Understanding Why the Green New Deal Won’t Really Work

The reasons why the Green New Deal won’t really work are fairly subtle. A person really has to look into the details to see what goes wrong. In this post, I try to explain at least a few of the issues involved.

[1] None of the new renewables can easily be relied upon to produce enough energy in winter. 

The world’s energy needs vary, depending on location. In locations near the poles, there will be a significant need for light and heat during the winter months. Energy needs will be relatively more equal throughout the year near the equator.

Solar energy is particularly a problem in winter. In northern latitudes, if utilities want to use solar energy to provide electricity in winter, they will likely need to build several times the amount of solar generation capacity required for summer to have enough electricity available for winter.

Figure 1. US daily average solar production, based on data of the US Energy Information Administration.

Hydroelectric tends to be a spring-dominated resource. Its quantity tends to vary significantly from year to year, making it difficult to count on.

Figure 2. US daily average hydroelectric production, based on data of the US Energy Information Administration.

Another issue with hydroelectric is the fact that most suitable locations have already been developed. Even if additional hydroelectric might help with winter energy needs, adding more hydroelectric is often not an option.

Wind energy (Figure 3) comes closest to being suitable for matching the winter consumption needs of the economy. In at least some parts of the world, wind energy seems to continue at a reasonable level during winter.

Figure 3. US daily average wind production, based on data of the US Energy Information Administration.

Unfortunately, wind tends to be quite variable from year to year and month to month. This makes it difficult to rely on without considerable overbuilding.

Wind energy is also very dependent upon the continuation of our current economy. With many moving parts, wind turbines need frequent replacement of parts. These parts need to be precisely correct, with virtually no tolerance for change. Sometimes, helicopters are needed to install the new parts. Because of the need for continued high-technology maintenance services, wind energy cannot be expected to continue to operate for very long unless the world economy, with all of its globalization, can continue pretty much as today.

[2] Depending upon burned biomass in winter is an option, but we already know that this path is likely to lead to massive deforestation.

Historically, people burned wood and other biomass to provide heat and light in winter. If biomass is burned for heat and light, it is an easy step to using charcoal for smelting metals for goods such as nails and shovels. But with today’s population of 7.7 billion people, the huge demand for biomass would quickly deforest the whole world. There is already a problem with growing deforestation, especially in tropical areas.

It is my understanding that the Green New Deal is focusing primarily on wind, hydroelectric, and solar rather than biomass, because of these issues.

[3] Battery backup for renewables is very expensive. Because of their high cost, batteries tend to be used only for very short time periods. At a 3-day storage level, batteries do nothing to smooth out season-to-season and year-to-year variation.

The cost of batteries is not simply their purchase price. There seem to be several related costs associated with the use of batteries:

  • The initial cost of the batteries
  • The cost of replacements, because batteries are typically not very long-lived compared to, say, solar panels
  • The cost of recycling the battery components rather than simply leaving the batteries to pollute the nearby surroundings
  • The loss of electric charge that occurs as the battery sits idle for a period of time and the loss related to electricity storage and retrieval

We can get some idea of the cost of batteries from an analysis by Roger Andrews of a Tesla/Solar City system installed on the island of Ta’u. The island is in American Samoa, near the equator. This island received a grant that was used to add solar panels, plus 3-day battery backup, to provide electricity for the tiny island. Any outages longer than the battery capacity would continue to be handled by a diesel generator. The goal was to reduce the quantity of diesel used, not to eliminate its use completely.

Based on Andrews’ analysis, adding a 3-day battery backup more than doubled the cost of the PV-alone system. (It added 1.6 times as much as the cost of the installed PV.) The catch, as I pointed out above, is that the cost doesn’t stop with purchasing the initial batteries. At least one set of replacement batteries is likely to be needed during the lifetime of the system. And there are other costs that are more subtle and difficult to evaluate.

Furthermore, this analysis was for a solar system. There seems to be more variation over longer periods for wind. It is not clear that the relative amount of batteries would be enough for 3-day backup of a wind system, or for a combination of wind, hydroelectric and solar. The long-term cost of a solar panel plus battery system might easily come to four times the cost of a wind or solar system alone.

There is also the issue of necessary overbuilding to make the system work. On Ta’u, near the equator, with diesel power backup, the system is set up in such a way that 40% of the solar generation is in excess of the island’s day-to-day electricity consumption. This constitutes another cost of the system, over and above the cost of the 3-day battery backup.

If we also eliminate the diesel backup, then we start adding more costs because the level of overbuilding would need to be even higher. And, if we were to create a similar system in a location with substantial seasonal temperature variation, even more overbuilding would be required if enough capacity is to be made available to provide sufficient generation in winter.

[4] Even in sunny, warm California, it appears that substantial excess capacity needs to be added to avoid the problem of inadequate generation during the winter months, if the electrical system used is based on wind, hydroelectric, solar, and a 3-day backup battery.

Suppose that we want to replace California’s electricity consumption (excluding other energy, including oil products) with a new system using wind, hydro, solar, and 3-day battery backup. Current California renewable generation, compared to current consumption, is as shown on Figure 4, based on EIA data.

Figure 4. California total electricity consumption compared to the sum of California solar, wind, and hydroelectric production, on a monthly average basis. Data used from the US Energy Information Administration through June 30, 2019.

California’s electricity consumption peaks about August, presumably due to all of its air conditioning usage (Figure 5). This is two months after the June peak in the output of solar panels. Also, electricity usage doesn’t drop back nearly as much during winter as solar production does. (Compare Figures 1 and 5.)

Figure 5. California electricity consumption by month, based on US Energy Information Administration data.

We note from Figure 4 that California hydroelectric production is extremely variable. It appears that hydroelectric generation can vary by a factor of five comparing high years to low years. California hydroelectric generation uses all available rivers, so any new energy generation will need to come from wind and solar.

Even with 3-day backup batteries, we need the system to reliably produce enough electricity that it can meet the average electricity generation needs of each separate month. I did a rough estimate of how much wind and solar the system would need to add to bring total generation sufficiently high so as to prevent electricity problems during the winter. In making the analysis, I assumed that the proportion of added wind and solar would be similar to their relative proportions on June 30, 2019.

My analysis suggests that to reliably bridge the gap between production and consumption (see Figure 4), approximately six times as much wind and solar would need to be added (making 7 = 6 +1 times as much generation in total), as was in place on June 30 , 2019. With this arrangement, there would be a huge amount of wind and solar whose production would need to be curtailed during the summer months.

Figure 6. Estimated share of wind and solar production that would need to be curtailed, to provide adequate winter generation. The assumption is made that hydroelectric generation would not be curtailed.

Figure 6 shows the proportion of wind and solar output that would be in excess of the system’s expected consumption. Note that in winter, this drops to close to zero.

[5] None of the researchers studying the usefulness of wind and solar have understood the need for overbuilding, or alternatively, paying backup electricity providers adequately for their services. Instead, they have assumed that the only costs involved relate to the devices themselves, plus the inverters. This approach makes wind and intermittent solar appear far more helpful than they really are.

Wind and solar have been operating in almost a fantasy world. They have been given the subsidy of “going first.” If we change to a renewables-only system, this subsidy of going first disappears. Instead, the system needs to be hugely overbuilt to provide the 24/7/365 generation that backup electricity providers have made possible with either no compensation at all, or with far too little compensation. (This lack of adequate compensation for backup providers is causing problems for the current system, but it is beyond the scope of this article to discuss them here.)

Analysts have not understood that there are substantial costs that are not being reimbursed today, which allow wind and solar to have the subsidy of going first. For example, if natural gas is to be used as backup during winter, there will still need to be underground storage allowing natural gas to be stored for use in winter. There will also need to be pipelines that are not used much of the year. Workers will need to be paid year around if they are to continue to specialize in natural gas work. Annual costs of the natural gas system will not be greatly reduced simply because wind, hydro, and water can replace natural gas usage most months of the year.

Analysts of many types have issued reports indicating that wind and solar have “positive net energy” or other favorable characteristics. These favorable analyses would disappear if either (a) the necessary overbuilding of the system or (b) the real cost of backup services were properly recognized. This problem pervades studies of many types, including Levelized Cost of Energy studies, Energy Returned on Energy Invested studies, and Life Cycle Analyses.

This strange but necessary overbuilding situation also has implications for how much homeowners should be paid for their rooftop solar electricity. Once it is clear that only a small fraction of the electricity provided by the solar panels will actually be used (because it comes in the summer, and the system has been overbuilt in order to produce enough generation in winter), then payments to homeowners for electricity generated by rooftop systems will need to decrease dramatically.

A question arises regarding what to do with all of the electricity production that is in excess of the needs of customers. Many people would suggest using this excess electricity to make liquid fuels. The catch with this approach is that the liquid fuel needs to be very inexpensive to be affordable by consumers. We cannot expect consumers to be able to afford higher prices than they are currently paying for fossil fuel products. Also, the new liquid fuels ideally should power current devices. If consumers need to purchase new devices in order to utilize the new fuels, this further reduces the affordability of a planned changeover to a new fuel.

Alternatively, owners of solar panels might be encouraged to use the summer overproduction themselves. They might set the temperatures of their air conditioners to a lower setting or heat a swimming pool. It is unlikely that the excess could be profitably sold to nearby utilities because they are likely encounter the same problem in summer, if they are using a similar generation mix.

[6] As appealing as an all-electric economy would seem to be, the transition to such an economy can be expected to take 150 years, based on the speed of the transition since 1985.

Clearly, the economy uses a lot of energy products that are not electricity. We are familiar with oil products burned in many vehicles, for example. Oil is also used in many ways that do not require burning (for example, lubricating oils and asphalt). Natural gas and propane are used to heat homes and cook food, among other uses. Coal is sometimes burned in making pig iron and cement in China.

Figure 7. Electricity as a share of total energy use for selected areas, based on BP’s 2019 Statistical Review of World Energy.

Electricity’s share of total energy consumption has gradually been rising (Figure 7).* We can make a rough estimate of how quickly the changeover has been taking place since 1985. For the world as a whole, electricity consumption amounted to 43.4% of energy consumption in 2018, rising from 31.2% in 1985. On average, the increase has been 0.37%, over the 33-year period shown. If we assume this same linear growth pattern holds going forward, it will take 153 years (until 2171) until the world economy can operate using only electricity. This is not a quick change!

[7] While moving away from fossil fuels sounds appealing, pretty much everything in today’s economy is made and transported to its final destination using fossil fuels. If a misstep takes place and leaves the world with too little total energy consumption, the world could be left without an operating financial system and with way too little food. 

Over 80% of today’s energy consumption is from fossil fuels. In fact, the other types of energy shown on Figure 8 would not be possible without the use of fossil fuels.

Figure 8. World Energy Consumption by Fuel, based on data of 2019 BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

With over 80% of energy consumption coming from fossil fuels, pretty much everything we have in our economy today is available thanks to fossil fuels. We wouldn’t have today’s homes, schools or grocery stores without fossil fuels. Even solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, and modern hydroelectric dams would not be possible without fossil fuels. In fact, for the foreseeable future, we cannot make any of these devices with electricity alone.

In Figure 8, the little notch in world energy consumption corresponds to the Great Recession of 2008-2009. The connection between low energy consumption and poor economic outcomes goes back to many earlier periods. Energy consumption growth was unusually low about the time of the Great Depression of the 1930s and about the time of the US Civil War. The vulnerability of the financial system and the possibility of major wars are two reasons why a person should be concerned about the possibility of an energy changeover that doesn’t provide the economic system with adequate energy to operate. The laws of physics require energy dissipation for essentially every activity that is part of GDP. Without adequate energy, an economy tends to collapse. Economists are generally not aware of this important point.

Agriculture is dependent upon fossil fuels, particularly oil. Petrochemicals are used directly to make herbicides, pesticides, medications for animals and nitrogen fertilizer. Huge quantities of energy are necessary to make metals of all kinds, such as the steel in agricultural equipment and in irrigation pumps. Refrigerated vehicles transport produce to market, using mostly oil-based fuel. If the transition does not go as favorably as hoped, food supplies could prove to be hopelessly inadequate.

[8] The scale of the transition to hydroelectric, wind, and solar would be unimaginably large.

Today, wind, hydroelectric, and solar amount to about 10% of world energy production. Hydroelectric amounts to about 7% of energy consumption, wind about 2%, and solar about 1%. This can be seen on Figure 8 above. A different way of seeing this same relationship is shown in Figure 9, below.

Figure 9. World hydroelectric, wind and solar production as share of world energy supply, based on BP’s 2019 Statistical Review of World Energy.

Figure 9 shows that hydroelectric power is pretty well maxed out, as a percentage of energy supply. This is especially the case in advanced economies. This means that any increases that are made in the future will likely have to come from wind and solar. If hydroelectric, wind and solar are together to produce 100% of the world’s energy supply, then wind and solar, which today comprise 3% of today’s energy supply, will need to ramp up to 93% of energy supply. This amounts to a 30-fold increase in wind and solar between 2018 and 2030, based on one version of the Green New Deal’s planned timing. We would need to be building wind and solar absolutely everywhere, very quickly, to accomplish this.

[9] Moving to electric vehicles (EVs) for private passenger autos is not likely to be as helpful as many people hope.

One issue is that it is possible to mandate the use of EVs, but if the automobiles cost more than citizens can afford, many citizens will simply stop buying cars at all. At least part of the worldwide reduction in automobile sales seems to be related to changes in rules that are intended to reduce auto emissions. The slowdown in auto sales is part of what is pushing the world into recession.

Another issue is that private passenger autos represent a smaller share of oil consumption than many people would expect. BP data indicate that 26% of worldwide oil consumption is gasoline. Gasoline powers the vast majority of the world’s private passenger automobiles today. While an oil savings of 26% would be good, there would still be a very long way to go.

One study of EV sales in Norway suggests that, with large subsidies, these cars are disproportionately sold to high-income families as a second vehicle. The new second vehicles are often used for commuting to work, when prior to the EV ownership, the owner had been taking public transportation. When this pattern is followed, the savings in oil use from the adoption of EVs becomes very small because building and transporting EVs also requires oil use.

Figure 10. Source: Holtsmark and Skonhoft The Norwegian support and subsidy policy of electric cars. Should it be adopted by other countries?

If one of the goals of the Green New Deal is to level out differences between the rich and the poor, mandating EVs would seem to be a step in the wrong direction. It would make more sense to mandate walking or the use of pedal bicycles, rather than EVs.

[10] Wind, solar, and hydroelectric have pollution problems themselves.

With respect to solar panels, a major concern is that if the panels are broken (for example, by a storm or near the end of their lives), water alone can leach toxic substances into the water supply. Another issue is that recycling needs to be subsidized, to be economic. The price of solar panels needs to be surcharged at the front end, if adequate funds are to be collected to cover recycling costs. This is not being done in the US.

Wind turbines are better in terms of not being made of toxic substances, but they disturb bird, bat, and marine life in their vicinity. Humans also complain about their vibrations, if the devices are close to homes. The fiberglass blades of wind turbines are not recyclable, and many of them are too big to fit into standard crushing machines. They need to be chopped into pieces, in order to fit into landfills.

Adding huge amounts of 3-day battery backup for wind turbines and solar panels will create a new set of recycling issues. The extent of the recycling issues will depend on the battery materials used.

Of course, if we try to ramp up wind and solar by a huge factor, pollution problems will rise accordingly. The chance that raw materials will prove to be scarce will increase as well.

There will also be an increasing problem with finding suitable sites to install all of the devices and batteries. There are limits on how densely wind turbines can be spaced before the output of one wind turbine interferes with the output of other nearby turbines. This problem is not too different from the problem of declining per-well oil production caused by too closely spaced shale wells.  

Afterword

I could explain further, but that would make this post too long. For example, using an overbuilt renewables system, there is not enough net energy to provide the high salaries almost everyone would like to see.

Also, the new renewable energy systems are likely to be more local than many have hoped. For example, I think it is highly unlikely that the people of North Africa would allow contractors to build a solar system in North Africa for the benefit of Europeans.

Note

*There are two different ways of comparing electricity’s value to that of total energy. Figure 7 uses the more generous approach. In it, the value of electricity is based on the amount of fossil fuels that would need to be burned to produce the electricity amounts shown. In the case of electricity types that do not involve the burning of fossil fuels, these amounts are estimated amounts. The less generous approach compares the heat value of the electricity produced to the total heat value of primary energy sources. Using the less generous approach, electricity corresponds to only about 20% of primary energy supply. The transition to an all-electric economy would be much farther away using the heat value approach.

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.
This entry was posted in Alternatives to Oil, Financial Implications and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1,326 Responses to Understanding Why the Green New Deal Won’t Really Work

  1. Harry McGibbs says:

    “This is what happens when the government targets you for zombie debt collection.

    “You receive a letter from your state’s department of human services claiming that you were “overissued” $4,132 in food stamp and cash benefits in the 1980s. Enclosed is a copy of the original overpayment notice they say they sent you when you were still listening to Madonna and Bobby Brown.

    “You don’t remember ever seeing it before.

    “The letter informs you that, since you didn’t respond immediately three decades ago, your 90-day window to request a fair hearing and contest the overpayment has closed. You now have a debt, and it’s past due…

    “With quiet but devastating regularity, zombie debt notices are arriving at the homes of tens of thousands across the US – courtesy of the government and with the assistance of heavyweight tech companies.

    “The Guardian can reveal that predatory policy changes, turbocharged by digital innovations, are producing a wave of aggressive debt collection that stretches back decades and targets the nation’s most vulnerable.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/law/2019/oct/15/zombie-debt-benefits-overpayment-poverty

    • Xabier says:

      People who think that they will escape all debt repayments in the chaos of decline are grossly deluded; and there will be no shortage of desperate people happy to collect those debts if it means being able to pay their own……

      What’s the old saying?

      ‘Man is wolf to man.’

      • Denial says:

        Trying to predict what will happen in the chaos is like saying what the weather will be on Tuesday two weeks from now. You just don’t know. Without an infrastructure how do you expect them to collect the debt? Debt collection works only when the whole system is intact. So there is a very good chance you are wrong. Look at the last democratic debates in America; there is lots of talk of debt forgiveness already?!
        I think government payments will be first to go….social security, food stamps etc followed by pensions….If we are talking ” Chaos” …. when the fire burns you will have no idea where it goes…. smugness will be a commodity that no one will be able to afford..I look at the homeless and think they will do much better than me as they are already used to decline!!..unless we are all wrong here on this website and BAU continues on for another 30 years and we have wasted our time analyzing something that is never going to happen!

        • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

          “I think government payments will be first to go….social security, food stamps etc followed by pensions….”

          CBs can create this money on their computers, but pensions seem to be declining as fringe benefits, so this has already begun…

          “… unless we are all wrong here on this website and BAU continues on for another 30 years and we have wasted our time analyzing something that is never going to happen!”

          but it’s so much fun!

          and energy makes the world go round, so it seems very definite that an energy based approach to analyzing IC will prove to be somewhat close to the actual endgame…

          anyway…

          BAU FULL THROTTLE tonight, baby!

          • Yep, recovering former peak oilers are sort of ~51% right after all, that’s good enough, although not precise for y/y or decade/decade time prediction, so use wisely.

          • Slow Paul says:

            Insta doomers are always wrong, but if they get it right there will be no internet to gloat about it.

            Slow doomers are always right, until the lights go out.

            • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

              true, but a Slow Doomer could change to an Insta Doomer if and when it appears that enough major factors are aligned to make Insta Doom look imminent…

              the countdown of 75 days left in 2019 should proceed without any change to the major factors (ex black swan)…

              2020 will surely be a most interesting year…

              for guessing games, round numbers are standard fall backs, but though it could be any year not ending in zero, it also could be such a year…

              2020 could be very exciting…

      • Robert Firth says:

        “Homo homini lupus”, coined by the playwright Plautus.

        But I have a modest proposal. A computer generated document has no legal validity; before being admissible as evidence it must be countersigned by a human being, who then swears in the court of law, under oath and under penalty of perjury, that it tells the truth.

    • Rodster says:

      I have many zombie debts and my number #1 rule is never to respond to the debt collector. I totally ignore them and they go away. Rinse and repeat when they resell the debt to another collection agency. It’s appalling that these debt collectors who are harassing the poor are literally paying about 2-3 cents on the dollar.

      IMO, if these debt collectors had to pay 75-85 cents on the dollar, I can bet you that you’d see far fewer of these debt collectors.

      • namkyahai says:

        A law that lets the debtor have first dibs on the debt when it goes on the block to tje collectors for pennies on the dollar would be nice. As first line collectors fail the debt gets cheaper. The debt is sold to the first collector for like 50%. Thats all the original person or entity that was owed gets. ever. IF ITS COLLECTED.all the rest is shear profit.for the collectors. by the time a couple years pass the collectors are basically getting it all. So they can clean up your credit.

        As a contractor i get paid up front. Law requires escrow account. If they dont like it i tell em get someone else. No problems. No one gets into debt and i dont have to go to court. All that BS liens on property ecetera not my bag. I have contractor friends that dont mind. they know they will get paid off a lien on a property sooner or later. usually when it gets refinanced. They like the interest they can charge. sure thing.

      • GBV says:

        It’ll be debtor’s prison for you, Rodster!

        Energy slavery doesn’t seem to bad to me, as long as I’m the slaver and not the slavee…

        Cheers,
        -GBV

  2. And so the terra-forming madness by humanoids continues now also via
    hybrid high yield and saline/seawater tolerant rice development by China.

    • Xabier says:

      All we do is come up with ever more elaborate ways to dig our own grave, tumbling in justa
      little later than might have happened otherwise………

  3. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Low interest rates are encouraging companies to take on a level of debt that risks becoming a $19tn (£15tn) timebomb in the event of another global recession, the International Monetary Fund has said.

    “In its half-yearly update on the state of the world’s financial markets, the IMF said that almost 40% of the corporate debt in eight leading countries – the US, China, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain – would be impossible to service if there was a downturn half as serious as that of a decade ago…

    “Officials at the Washington-based organisation fear that the buildup of debt makes the global financial system highly vulnerable…

    “Tobias Adrian and Fabio Natalucci, two senior IMF officials responsible for the global financial stability report, said: “A sharp, sudden tightening in financial conditions could unmask these vulnerabilities and put pressures on asset price valuations.””

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/oct/16/global-economy-faces-19tn-corporate-debt-timebomb-warns-imf

    • it always seems to be a “financial future time bomb” (or whatever)

      it isn’t

      it’s an oil time bomb

      Our global finances remain viable only as long as the oil flow exceeds the money demand

      When money demand exceeds oilflow (like now) the world finance house of cards will collapse

      Which is what we are witnessing around us at the moment–though we are keeping ourselves afloat in the denial phase by borrowing money to pretend we are still in the cheap-oil expansion phase.

      That borrowed money comes from our future and our children’s future.
      it is they who will have to live with the fallout

      • Hubbs says:

        No one expects principal to ever be repaid, only interest. As long as interest rates are near zero or below, it would seem that everyone, debtor nations, corporations, and Central banks will all pretend. It has gone on a lot longer than I ever thought it could.
        It would seem that eventually, if oil costs more to produce than it earns in productive capacity, well, the economy slowly cannibalizes itself of other wealth or diverts capital from other value-added production to pay for increasingly costly FFs.

        • without oil, the capital value of everything else collapses

          and this includes land
          because land is only as valuable as the energy return from it

          if the amount of energy extracted from land is only what muscle power can put into it, then that will be the real value

          if you can extract energy from land using diesel and tractors, then that will be the real value

          • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

            “without oil, the capital value of everything else collapses”

            true, but I don’t foresee the world going from record high oil in 2018 to quickly being without oil…

            we could suspect that the energy derived from oil has been less in recent years… higher production costs, perhaps higher refining costs… but this may not be measurable…

            but if we see clear data that the value of economic activity is declining (slowly), then perhaps that tells us that the energy derived from oil is also declining (slowly)…

            of course, CBs/governments could mess up, or a black swan or war…

            then things could move fast…

            but right now it’s all slowly paced…

          • Xabier says:

            Historically, fertile land+animal and human muscle-power made the value of land,and made it a store of wealth that anyone with capital eagerly sought to acquire; but we have universally degraded and eroded the soils with industrialised monoculture and chemical filth, so one is inclined to ask what the true value of land really is now?

            • Robert Firth says:

              Xabier, fair comment, and a good question. The value of any resource is whatever can be sustainably extracted from it, indefinitely. For land, that means whatever is taken out must, somehow, be put back. For energy, that is easy: we have sunlight. For some other inputs, it is almost as easy: photosynthesis replaces carbon compounds; legumes replace nitrogen; the corpses of insects and small animals replace some trace elements.

              For others, human extraction requires human replacement; phosphorus, for example, must be replaced by human and animal wastes. Water is harder; it can be replaced by rainfall, but otherwise only by sustainable irrigation. Which, emphatically, does not mean by drilling wells; they deplete the underlying water table and eventually die.

              You know, we knew all this a thousand years ago, when Mediaeval Europe adopted almost fully sustainable agriculture, and a bit later even wrote the book on it. (Charles Estienne, Maison Rustique).

              The Egyptians knew this two thousand years earlier, when they invented the Nilometer, the device that measured the height of the annual Nile flood. That gave them a good indication of how bountiful the subsequent harvest would be, and the priests could plan the year accordingly. Astonishingly, they also set the taxes for the year on the same basis, so that every farmer was guaranteed an affordable levy, if he farmed prudently.

              Perhaps, in the face of the coming Collapse, we should set up an Encyclopaedia Foundation, to collect and codify all this knowledge. (And, at the other end of the planet, …? I rather think not.)

        • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

          “… the economy slowly cannibalizes itself…”

          yes, slowly…

        • “..will all pretend..” – that’s very precise and fitting term for it, thanks.

          There is rock/pop tune “Great Pretender” – the actual singer in real life pretended among other things he is NOT terminally ill for several years, incl. usage of heavy make up, out of focus blurred and or bw/over saturated video clips hiding rapid physical deterioration, no public appearances, none or few press events and represented by others at that anyway etc.

          It’s uncanny how it rhymes with the dying out system. The difference being the heirs eventually got to “enjoy” megabucks afterwards, nowadays any possible inheritance from the system is more questionable game..

      • I am afraid all of us will have to live with the fallout.

        I am afraid quite a few futures won’t really exist. I am not sure that we could have really changed this, however. Our range of actions at any point in time seems to depend on what has happened in the past.

    • Sorry I have not been able to comment today. I have been at a conference with zero internet access. In fact, I probably will be mostly unavailable tomorrow as well. I have Internet at the hotel, but I need to leave shortly.

      • Xabier says:

        Spreading the Good News among actuaries again, Gail? Be gentle……

        • Actually, these are IEEE folks. There are a few Space Solar folks, but most are talking about things like the wonders of 5G networks. They have never stopped to think about the need for affordable products. I asked some very pointed questions today, and got several people interested in coming to my session (this afternoon) instead of a session on one of the other tracks.

          The university of Ottawa supposedly has internet service in the building we are in, but it doesn’t work with all of the attendees.

  4. Pingback: Proper 24: Persistence – A New City of God

  5. namkyahai says:

    Mark to market considered a foundational tool for financial stability for decades suspended in 2008 and now gone forever forever. There is no bankruptcy. It doesnt exist.
    https://bankingjournal.aba.com/2016/01/fasb-formally-closes-door-on-mark-to-market-standard/

    • Thanks for pointing this out. This is from 2016. It became effective in 2018. There are various valuations for assets available. Bonds, for example, often trade a below amortized cost because they are doing poorly. If companies don’t have to mark to market, they don’t have to recognize that problem, until the bond actually defaults, for example.

  6. Sven Røgeberg says:

    I stumbled across this reference in something i read today. I havn’t had time to read it yet, but this is the abstract:
    The purpose of this conceptual paper is to provide readers with an opportunity to reassess their work and life in the face of an inevitable near- term social collapse due to climate change.
    The approach of the paper is to analyse recent studies on climate change and its implications for our ecosystems, economies and societies, as provided by academic journals and publications direct from research institutes.
    That synthesis leads to a conclusion there will be a near-term collapse in society with serious ramifications for the lives of readers. The paper reviews some of the reasons why collapse-denial may exist, in particular, in the professions of sustainability research and practice, therefore leading to these arguments having been absent from these fields until now.
    The paper offers a new meta-framing of the implications for research, organisational practice, personal development and public policy, called the Deep Adaptation Agenda. Its key aspects of resilience, relinquishment and restorations are explained. This agenda does not seek to build on existing scholarship on “climate adaptation” as it is premised on the view that social collapse is now inevitable.
    The author believes this is one of the first papers in the sustainability management field to conclude that climate-induced societal collapse is now inevitable in the near term and therefore to invite scholars to explore the implications.
    https://www.lifeworth.com/deepadaptation.pdf

    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

      well, I can never get back the couple of minutes I wasted reading that… 😉

      “The author believes this is one of the first papers in the sustainability management field…”

      wow!

      probably a field full of highly paid academics out of touch with energy realities…

      ho hum…

      I wish I could rewrite that last sentence to a closer fit with Reality:

      The author believes this is one of the first papers in the sustainability management field to conclude that energy-depletion-induced societal collapse is now inevitable in the near term and therefore to invite scholars to explore the implications.

      I’m always here to help…

    • Robert Firth says:

      Pure drivel, from beginning to end. The author summarises his work in six points. First to Fifth explain how the “tragedy” of collapse will engulf us all. Then comes the last:

      “Finally, I make some suggestions for how this agenda could influence our future research and teaching in the sustainability field.”

      So it seems his ivory tower will survive, and his fee baying students, and his grant giving patrons. As Shakespeare said: “The latter end of his commonwealth forgets the beginning”. (The Tempest, Act II scene i)

  7. Dennis says:

    Back in 2000, you remember we had “irrational exuberance”. Then not long after the boom petered out, China joined the WTO and ramped up its energy consumption and industrial production.

    Since then, in some individual years China has used more cement in a year than the USA used in the whole of the twentieth century. China’s relentless mercantilism and productivism meant that it in effect exported deflation to the rest of the world. Meanwhile it indulged in wasting massive amounts of resources by building ghost cities, airports, etc. It has surely contributed massively to world pollution and the other controversial things connected to that.

    Probably China should have been nuked years ago, but now I suggest we all write to Mr Trump, tell him he’s a great guy, convince him that nuking China would feel even better than Viagra, then stand back and watch him light the fuse. Go on – you know it makes sense!

    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

      good thing anti-war Trump is POTUS and you are not… 😉

      • namkyahai says:

        Yup. The POTUS of peace and prosperity. NOT ALLOWED. IMPEACH.
        Trumps go to go…
        Every one of the Democrat candidates was banging on the war drum at the debate with the exception of Tulsi. She says Trump has to go too…
        I thought she was OK but If she cant acknowledge Trump as the only president in the last what 60 years to say no to war then meh. Talk is cheap. Trump delivers. Birds of a feather.
        Not stick our nose in, UNTHINKABLE! We know everything!
        Donald J. Trump

        Verified account

        @realDonaldTrump
        Oct 14
        More
        Some people want the United States to protect the 7,000 mile away Border of Syria, presided over by Bashar al-Assad, our enemy. At the same time, Syria and whoever they chose to help, wants naturally to protect the Kurds….

        8,531 replies16,394 retweets70,140 likes
        Reply 8.5K Retweet 16K Like 70K
        Show this thread

        Donald J. Trump

        Verified account

        @realDonaldTrump
        Oct 14
        More
        ….and Assad to protect the land of our enemy? Anyone who wants to assist Syria in protecting the Kurds is good with me, whether it is Russia, China, or Napoleon Bonaparte. I hope they all do great, we are 7,000 miles away!

        14,035 replies17,785 retweets73,362 likes
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        Donald J. Trump

        Verified account

        @realDonaldTrump
        Oct 14
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        After defeating 100% of the ISIS Caliphate, I largely moved our troops out of Syria. Let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land. I said to my Generals, why should we be fighting for Syria….

        18,807 replies20,672 retweets84,720 likes
        Reply 19K Retweet 21K Like 85K

        • Tim Groves says:

          There will be no impeachment, just endless mudslinging, accusations, and attempts to show PUTUS in a bad light to give his opponents a chance to unseat him a year from now. On and on it will go, ad nauseum—just in case some of us aren’t sufficiently nauseated yet.

          Meanwhile, 441 Congress Critters are dancing it up and making the deals of a lifetime, and are too busy to make any laws. There’s no health insurance legislation, no New Green Deal legislation, none of the things the Democrats claim to care most about have been introduced as bills.

          When the men, women and all the other genders of Members of Congress first arrive in DC, it smells like a sewer to them. But once they’ve gotten used to the place it smells like a hot bathtub scented with all the perfumes of Arabia. The longer they soak in it the more they cook in their own corruption.

        • in 1939 the USA was almost totally anti war, luckily FDR knew differently

          Had they not entered ww2 this is what would have happened:

          Hitle r would have invaded UK

          hence closing off Europe to USA—(no landing fields)

          By 1944, he would have had nukes, and by 1946 the means to deliver them to the USA/USSR

          1947/8 total world domination under threat of nuclear war

          I might be out a year or two here and there, but not overall

          If unstopped, wars have a tendency to turn up on your own doorstep.

          The don is just flailing about looking for the best voting platforms. He is not concerned about politics or people who might die because of his antics.
          I have no doubt about Pelosi’s opinion of ‘meltdown’

          • Thinkstoomuch says:

            Nice alternate history.

            Please refresh my mind. What caused the US to declare war?

            For that matter when would this hypothetical invasion of of the UK have happened? How well did that invasion of the USSR work out before the US entry.

            Of course that pesky oil and steel embargo had no impact, either. Or sending volunteers, Flying Tigers, to fight as mercenaries.

            For that matter look at the timeline for Germany and the USA was declared.

            Yes war showed up on our back doorstep and was promptly used as an excuse to fight a war in the garage.

            Oh by the way your timeline is seriously late. Examine when the planes were designed and ships were laid down.

            T2M

            • my main point was that FDR kept the uk afloat until 1942, resisting Kennedy Lindbergh et al

              if he hadnt the USA would have lost the war because german factories could not have been bombed and he would have developed nukes

              i did say my timeline could be off by a year or two, but the broad point holds i think

            • Thinkstoomuch says:

              Deleted a long post.

              Germany wasn’t going to develop a nuclear weapon. The top German scientists(left) said nuclear weapons were impossible, they got their constants wrong, IIRC. Germany never had a sustained chain reaction.

              Germany never developed a platform for cross ocean sorties. The US didn’t really have one until the Peacemaker. Years after the war.

              Germany had the strategic vision of a blind mole. Tactically they did very well. Tactics win battles not wars. Hence the failure of Operation Sea Lion which had little to no American involvement. Other than food.

              Before Russia got the US Logistics help Germany was stopped and flailing. The UK was already secure from invasion at that point.

              European bombing campaigns on all sides were an own goal, mostly. German’s production peaked in 1944.

              Like I said deleted the long version,
              T2M

            • namkyahai. says:

              Ah yes. Hitler justification. By the playbook, Always infer Trump a nazi , racist and or tyrant and or friends with the above.Shall we look our somewhat more recent mideast military efforts.

              Iraq
              https://www.globalpolicy.org/war-and-occupation-in-iraq.html

              Libya
              Largest area in the world where terrorist Islamist groups run things spilling deep into Niger and Chad.

              https://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-skeptics/libya-failed-state-its-americas-fault-23325

              Syria
              Obama ” Assad has to go. ”
              Gee i seem to recall hearing “has to go” more recently.
              Wouldnt that be a characteristic of a dictator arbitrarily condemning any apposing view? Bu I digress.
              https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/syria/publication/the-toll-of-war-the-economic-and-social-consequences-of-the-conflict-in-syria

              Hitler justification Saddam.
              Hitler justification Qaddafi.
              Hitler justification Assad.

              People of all walks of life all income classes all races are sick of the horror of war and hate. I am one of those people. The people whose lives are torn apart by war matter.
              Arguments that support war are despicable. I dont hate you Norman even though you support something despicable. Hate is what the propaganda machine wants. I ask you to consider your viewpoint as a neighbor. Look to your heart.

            • Robert Firth says:

              You forgot a couple. Hitler’s proposed invasion of Britain (Operation Sealion) was abandoned in September 1940, over a year before the US entered the war. And the German research on possible nuclear weapons was shut down when the Norwegian heavy water facilities were destroyed, by British Special Operations, acting almost alone (helped by a dozen Norwegian partisans).

              And FDR had the luck of the Devil. If Nagumo Chuichi had launched the planned third wave attack on Pearl Harbour, against the ground installations, Japan would probably have won the Pacific War. The US carriers would have had no base facilities West of San Diego, rendering them effectively useless.

            • I fully accept there are a lot of what ifs in my hypothesis.

              But if hitler’s factories could produce V2s while under attack—they would have produced far more bigger and better if they had not been, including nuclear weapons, including increased range to cross the atlantic

            • Thinkstoomuch says:

              “But if hitler’s factories could produce V2s while under attack—they would have produced far more bigger and better if they had not been, including nuclear weapons, including increased range to cross the atlantic”

              Was President Roosevelt’s course to drive the Japanese to attack the US a good one? Doesn’t matter he did it, they did it, and he got his European war. And dreadful treatment of some of President Roosevelt’s foreign born citizens and their property. Though he at least did not kill them.

              I am glad it went the way it did as more than likely I would not exist or be the person I am today. I like me. I mostly like the world wish the small number of idiots would be better. But Idiots will always be with us. The Average person is Average.

              But Germany already lost the “Battle of Britain”, “Operation Sea Lion” was already cancelled. “Operation Barbarossa” already failed. North Africa and the Mediterranean was already a mess.

              V-1, V-2 and jet aircraft development are examples of why it would not have happened, IMO. Germany is losing everywhere. So they chase a mirage. Let us build new factories to do things our current aircraft can already do, in neat, new ways … in small numbers in a year or two. Remind you of the Green New Deal yet?

              Look at the design of B-36 Peacemaker sometime. Look at how long it took the US to build an ICBM(with some of those German Engineers). Look at the size and weight of “Big Boy” and “Tall Boy”.

              The Nazi leadership was divided and very power hungry, at the expense of peers. 3 years
              of crash development with unlimited funding was not going to happen. Or at least in any universe I can imagine.

              Even if the US had not entered, the war it was not winnable by Germany. Results probably closer to what happened to Macedonia and Alexander. A lot more dead people (less infrastructure damage, more?) and chaos but that is a wild guess.

              This is very simplified their are entire library categories on the subject and even more opinions. Some even have the effrontery to be different than mine. 🙂

              T2M

            • Robert Firth says:

              Norman, your remark about Hither’s V2s conveniently forgets that Peenemunde was bombed not by the US, but by the Royal Air Force (Operation Hydra). And by late 1941 it was pretty clear that USSR ground forces, allied with British sea and air forces, could have won the war on their own.

          • Yorchichan says:

            It was fortunate the good guys won WW2 (but not for the Germans):

            https://www.bitchute.com/video/17nypWABfsmu/

            • This reply is essentially to cover that video link as much as anything else.

              the Germans had a term for their air raids

              it was: that a city had been “Coventried”
              They hovered over the city for hours, it was open and unprotected. it was burned out in a calculated and deliberate manner, they were not bombing the car factories.

              If you should ever find yourself in Coventry, go to the (new) hospital. There you will find a memorial to the two women awarded the George Medal (our highest civilian award for bravery) for gallantry that night. One was the hospital matron, one was a hospital cleaner.
              The challenge is not to crack when you read what happened.

              Before any hand wringing, I can only suggest that you read up on what started it all

              Hitler wasn’t going to be stopped by a polite diplomatic note. Or threats about what we were going to do to his country. He was a lunatic who by chance found himself with the most powerful military machine in history.
              He hired lunatics to do the work he couldn’t.

              While you’re at it—check out what happened to Nanking in 1937, or Guernica for that matter, or Warsaw

              As the head of British bomber command put it: They sowed the wind, now they will reap the whirlwind.
              It was all most unfortunate, but let’s not start reversing the blame for it.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “Hitler . . was a lunatic”

              Because it worked in the stone age (and we still have the psychological mechanisms) lunatics and irrational people become attractive to resource stressed people.

              It is perhaps informative to consider the current situation in the US in this light.

            • this is the point that correlates exactly with our own time

              a people getting more desperate as their lifestyle erodes—the ‘great leader’ arises and offers salvation

              Churchill offered nothing but blood toil tears and sweat

            • Yorchichan says:

              Hitler wanted peace with Britain, but his suing for peace was repeatedly rejected by Churchill; it was Britain who declared war on Germany, remember, not the other way around. Rather than Germany “sowing the wind”, it was the RAF who began the bombing of civilians in August 1940. It wasn’t until after being on the receiving end of British bombs for over two months that Germany finally retaliated by bombing British cities in November 1940.

            • Guernica—Warsaw

              Churchill was fully aware of the worth of Hitler’s word.

              This is why he rejected any peace offered and declared war to stop him

          • I doubt that alt scenario very much..

            -the key n-bomb scientists left Germany in the mid 1930s at the latest.. (huge delays)

            -the historical record is quite clear the German campaigns where deliberate pure gambles, which worked against France, but did not work in N Africa, nor in the Eastern front which was the ~75% of the damage inflicted

            -the UK had advantages in radar technology, existing naval global empire with resource base, etc.

            -the land lease program bound for USSR picked up in 1943-44 when Nazis already lost

            The only serious antidote I’ve noticed over the years would be to “firstly” take over Gibraltar, i.e. block the Suez route, and thus inflict heavier losses on the longer around Africa naval route, also pursuing shock and awe massacre the expedition forces at Dunkirk instead of hoping for some resolution with the Brits, .. , and not attacking in the north St. Peters/Leningrad and Moscow but go directly to Caucasus oil fields in the south. And even all the above best case scenarios would not have been successful. Nazi Germany was simply too small in the oil game (leverage) vs the giants (USSR/US/UK) with their horse drawn units, lack of fuel for airplanes, unreliable allies like Italy etc..

          • namkyahai says:

            Bush wars double plus bad,
            Obama wars double plus good.
            Trump wars/not double plus bad.

          • Tim Groves says:

            Norm, you’re not going to like this, but WW1 and WW2 were both choreographed by the power elite behind the scenes, Hitler (real name Hiller, by the way) and his mates were all crisis actors, and nuclear weapons don’t exist and are just one more paper tiger that the power elite scare everyone into believing so that they can keep scamming us.

            Just my humble and earnest opinion of course! 🙂

            • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

              wow…

              majorly conspearacy theoristic stuff…

              well played, sir!

            • namkyahai says:

              Everyone at Hiroshima Nagasaki Crisis actor too? Not that there arnt crisis actors and Hitler may or may not have been there predecessor. I dont know. I do tend to believe nuclear weapons are real based on the multiple testimonies of thousands of Japanese nuclear weapon survivors. It would definitely be neato if they didnt exist.

  8. GBV says:

    Global warming swindle:

    Fun stuff…

    Cheers,
    -GBV

    • Dennis says:

      But you see, the ENTITIES were warning us Earth folk about this back as early as the 1950s. You’re not saying they were WRONG?

      • Abduction of humans by aliens to produce hybrids. Really? Someone has been playing too many video games.

        • Kowalainen says:

          My viewpoint on these issues is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

          Ridicule and “thinfoil hat” marginalization, however, proves nothing and leaves me unimpressed.

          Imagine some 500 years ago a “scientist” coming with the outrageous claim that the earth was a sphere orbiting around the sun in the outskirts of the Milky way, and not at the center of the universe.

          All science starts out as pseudoscience. Some science, however, regresses back to pseudoscience, for example cosmology and climate science.

  9. GBV says:

    Uhhh… looks like my comments posting a link to a global warming document were scrubbed from the website. LAME 😦

    Anyways, let’s try again… you’ll have to fix the link should you wish to watch it:

    https://www.youtube.com / playlist?list=PL55EBFD7CE9F194B1

    Fun stuff.

    Cheers,
    -GBV

  10. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The world economy has not been in a more precarious situation in over a decade. Growth is faltering everywhere, with the Eurozone flirting with recession, while central banks have returned to monetary easing after just one year of global tightening.

    “It is imperative to appreciate the exceptionality of the situation. Never before has the world gone into recession with interest rates so low and with the balance sheets of central banks so massive. This time truly is ”different”…

    “No one dares to look at the facts – or if they do, they dismiss them. Denial is a powerful force.

    “The fact is that monetary policy is running on empty, at least in the Eurozone, and governments can provide only limited fiscal stimulus. We’ve reached the end. There’s nothing left to do than prepare for the crisis and wait. And to be very afraid.”

    https://reaction.life/towards-the-coming-economic-crisis/

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