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:

    “More than two-thirds of global corporate bond fund managers expect default rates to climb over the next 12 months, according to a new report from the International Association of Credit Portfolio Managers.

    “In a September survey of over 100 member institutions in more than 20 countries, 68% of respondents said they expect defaults to rise, up from 58% three months ago.”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-10-17/global-credit-managers-see-more-defaults-wider-spreads-ahead

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “The next economic downturn will be much more severe than the last financial crisis because firms have twice as much outstanding debt as they did in 2008, said a leading academic this week.”

      https://www.globalcapital.com/article/b1hmnny1lpfk1k/bankruptcy-experts-foresee-unprecedented-defaults-ahead

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “Poland’s central bank has more than doubled its gold holdings in the last two years. Analysts say the factors behind this sharp increase are also pushing other central banks to buy more gold.”

        https://www.centralbanking.com/central-banks/reserves/gold/4494456/strong-global-forces-pushing-some-central-banks-to-buy-gold-analysts

      • I suppose the “more debt” by these companies partly has to do with the big shift toward share buy-backs, and funding operations with debt rather than equity. With equity ownership, there is less pressure to always be able to fund the next set of bonds that are coming due, or the interest on a set of bonds.

        • Dennis L. says:

          Gail, if one has a real business, why not buy back stock in something you already know? Warren comes to mind, he regularly purchases entire companies such as BN some years back. Sure, it will make more and less money some days, but it is still a company. Many of these companies have huge cash stashes, they can pay off the debt at a consistent rate and be no worse for wear. Governments baffle me, where is all the money coming from? In the US there is speculation much oil drilling was done with some sort of channeling of government debt which would make sense as that production held down conventional production income/cost to consumers world wide and kept BAU going. A back of the envelope calculation could compute what conventional, off shore oil would have cost without tight oil. Take the amount of oil currently imported, add shale oil and assign an additional marginal cost of say $5, $10, etc per barrel and compare to total debts of shale drillers. Maybe it actually made sense, rather than the money going to the middle east, etc., it stayed in the US, provided jobs Seems like a good idea to me and over all an economic winner for the entire world.

          Governments can’t pay their bills and going forward it gets worse. Spain, Hong Kong, Lebanon are rioting. Here at home we are literally yelling at each other and walking out of meetings.

          With a company at the end of the day something can be made that is necessary, people will find a way to pay. With bonds, how does one collect? If on the other hand you need a spare part for a machine, you are going to pay, if you need electricity for your plant, you will pay, etc.

          It is a very challenging time, you and many others on this site have probably answered most of the macro questions; so as James Schlesinger said at one of the last ASPO meetings in DC, “How should we then live?”

          Dennis L.

          • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

            “How should we then live?”

            do whatever…

            it’s what each one of us is going to do anyway…

          • Tim Groves says:

            Perhaps a more practical and less philosophical question is, “How are we going to make a living?”

          • Slow Paul says:

            It seems to me that we are living off legacy infrastructure and fossil fuel resources developed decades ago. All profitable business ventures, in the sense of classical economics, were just a “trickling down” of the large unused fuel deposits in the ground. We also had a lot less complexity back in the day, so there were a lot less “overhead” in business transactions.

            How should we live? There will be ever less resources to go around, with increasing tensions, riots and war. I suggest moving to a semi-rural location where people are friendly and helpful, and where you can stay away from trouble, crime and violence.

            • Except you might be a newcomer in such a semi-rural location. I would think that a person’s first choice might be some semi-rural location where you have connections. For example, where you grew up or have a close relative. Being a newcomer where you are not known at all is not necessarily a good idea, as things turn for the worse.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              ” or have a close relative.”

              That’s a problem. When I was growing up, I had two relatives who were really farmers and one who thought of herself as a farmer (on 40 acres) but was actually a schoolteacher. All gone now, I can’t think of a relative or even a close friend who lives in a rural area.

            • Dennis L. says:

              Some off the cuff guesses:
              1. In the country one is much less an individual, at a minimum you fail to thrive, and worst you fail all together.
              2. Consequence of 1 is less wealth disparity, everyone has something to contribute and must contribute, there is not enough to carry those who freeload, have too much and someone you need doesn’t have enough.
              3. Consequence of 2 is you learn to get along with everyone, there is a mutual need for mutual help.
              4. Consequence of 3 may be less diversity, life is too busy to sort out all the nuances, everyone must start from some sort of common reference, again 3, you have to get along, minor annoyances are not worth debating.
              5. There is less and what comes from the outside is much more of a challenge to obtain. Metaphorically, all nails are the same size as the right one is 30 miles away. A consequence is no JIT, essentials are inventoried to a point, too much inventory and things cannot be found in time to be useful.
              6. You are going join groups with which you don’t necessarily agree, which are less enjoyable than the city, e.g. church. The message is often a simplification of major world problems, you put you money in the plate to support the group, knowing the people is important, arguing political points far distant is not worth the effort. Apparently in feudal times , the peasants were kept home to make money, the sons of the elites were sent someplace to fight, argue preferably some distant land with a grand political purpose, finding the grail for example.
              7. Metropolitan areas all over the world seem to be undergoing stresses which are resulting in large riots, multiple hundreds of thousands of people. Physically it probably solves nothing, but emotionally it seems to be necessary as it has occurred so often in history. To my way of thinking it is happening across too many varying cultures not to be a global issue. One wonders if this is a time not unlike the Civil War in the US, the Revolution of 1919 in Russia, WWI, WWII in Europe, the Russian-Japanese war in the early twentieth century. The causative issues are debated to this day, there is little time for such debate in the country; practically speaking other than providing jobs for historians has it really made a difference in why or who was right? These things happen, choosing a rural location in Gettysburg at the wrong time is not a great decision. Musket balls going through the farm house has similarities to some urban neighborhoods.

              So, how then should we live? In town there is time to argue small points, less so in the country. The limiting factor seems to be time, many of us can do it all, but there is not time to do it all, there are fewer people so more time is spent doing essentials. Arguing over painting a crosswalk in a rainbow of colors at city council meeting(this is an actual issue with a city in Iowa and the Federal Government) does not have much relevance when the roads are gravel.

              Again metaphorically and understanding that it has never been easy, from Genesis 41.
              28 “It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, 30 but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. 31 The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. 32 The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon. We seem to be debating on a somewhat continuous basis what “soon” means in today’s world.

              The financial economy is a tertiary economy resting on energy. The good news in Genesis is that the bad years will only last seven years. Some things never change, the challenge is to choose a way to live which works for the time in which one lives. In a worst case scenario, one has to move on with all the stresses that will involve; there are not as many places to move as there were in the early twentieth century, bummer.

              Dennis L.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              As long as the crop failures are not too widespread (I.e., worldwide) and the shipping infrastructure stays up, famine is not likely.

              We could also divert much of what we feed to animals into human food.

            • My understanding is that in most previous famines, the problem was as much lack of buying power of many citizens, as anything else. There was, in fact, plenty of food. The poorer members of society could not afford the food. In fact, that is why the world has hunger today.

              Looking at the problem from the point of food/population doesn’t give you the correct answer, unfortunately. There must be both (a) enough food and (b) even enough distribution through income.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “The poorer members”

              You are right that generally, the richer members of society had enough to eat. That’s what Gregory Clark talks about in the article I have mentioned. But there are cases where the food supply failed, the Irish Potato famine comes to mind.

              More recent, “in 1971 and 1972 wheat crops in the Soviet Union suffered massive shortfalls”

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

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extreme_weather_events_of_535%E2%80%93536

              This is the kind of worldwide famine that would need substantial changes in human eating habits to weather without massive population loss.

            • Even back in Biblical days, people knew about multiple lean years, and the need to have reserves for these lean years. We do this with grain, and with oil and coal. But electricity and natural gas are both hard to store. Natural gas can be stored in underground caverns. Usually, this is only one year’s supply, mostly for winter heat. Electricity is generally only stored for powering small devices (such as computers or flashlights) or, at utility scale, only for a short time. Of course, now we are powering some autos with electricity also.

            • Thinkstoomuch says:

              Rules for going to a rural location. If you want helpful neighbors act like a helpful neighbor. Do not act like a “know it all”. The city attitude of not acknowledging others will not cut it.

              Act like you are alone on a island and you are on an island. At least in most of the US.

              The golden rule applies. Oh and be ready to live in a Fish Bowl. Everybody generally knows everything, eventually.

              T2M

  2. Harry McGibbs says:

    “South Africa faces a third day of power cuts, with state-owned utility Eskom warning that outages will be bigger than previously expected after it lost more generation capacity.

    “Breakdowns at a number of its generating units have forced Eskom to ration power since Wednesday… Blackouts earlier in the year were blamed for a sharp contraction in economic growth.”

    https://www.news.com.au/world/breaking-news/safrica-set-for-third-day-of-power-cuts/news-story/e2b5937a5917c81c95323810d4df4e4e

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “President Mauricio Macri’s re-election chances have suffered another blow, after the International Monetary Fund downgraded its forecasts for Argentina on Tuesday, predicting the country’s economy will contract by 3.1% in 2019.

      “The institution also predicted in a new report that Argentina’s runaway inflation will close out the year at 57.3%.”

      https://en.mercopress.com/2019/10/17/imf-estimates-a-3.1-contraction-of-the-argentine-economy-in-2019

      • MG says:

        Argentina is a good example of a country with heavy dependence on agriculture and oil production in the past: the depletion of soil and oil make it a first-class zombie. Without the nuclear energy, the immediate collapse could not be avoided.

        • MG says:

          https://www.reuters.com/article/us-argentina-soils-analysis/analysis-lack-of-crop-rotation-slowly-turns-argentine-pampas-into-sand-idUSBRE99M0G120131023

          “Soy takes more out of the soil than farmers can afford to put back by way of fertilizers. Only 37 percent is restored, meaning that 63 percent of each season’s loss remains lost, according to government data.

          “The process of land degradation is a fact,” said a government source with direct knowledge of the problem but who asked not to be identified.”

          • MG says:

            https://dialogochino.net/30026-argentina-reels-from-soy-and-beef-expansion/

            ““Argentina was, and still is, very competitive because its soils were very fertile, but future competitiveness is threatened. Profitability will be lower because more money will have to be spent on fertilising the soil,” said Sainz Rozas.”

            • I am afraid I am not an expert on this. As I understand the situation, it is almost impossible to replace all of the nutrients lost. In fact, simply tiling the soil tends to lead to erosion of soil, especially for areas on hills. If microbes are allowed to be the ones that are primarily in charge of nutrient replacement, they can often do a better job than we do. But I am not certain exactly the requirements for microbes to do most of the nutrient replacement. Perhaps it involves rotating with animal use and leaving the ground fallow. It involves getting human waste back into the soil, without lots of pharmaceutical products and added salt.

              If humans simply gather food from naturally growing ecosystem, this is probably best. But it won’t support very many of us.

          • Dennis L. says:

            Thanks for the reference. Land planted in soybeans this year, corn next two, soil analysis is done every two years over mapped with production as harvested. I am going to look at the soil analysis as it will be sampled this year and I can compare it going back about eight years.
            It seems as though there are more and more things to manage each year, tough to stay in the game.
            I often wondered if Argentina sold their beans to China, who didn’t buy their beans? Seems like it is a game of musical chairs for beans and a bean is a bean is a bean.

            Dennis L.

          • I don’t really understand this. I thought soy was a kind of bean. I thought beans, in general, were less hard on the land than corn and wheat.

            • Dennis L. says:

              Soybeans produce nitrogen reducing the need for nitrogen fertilizer application when corn is planted. There is more soil erosion with beans and hence the trend to think about cover crops to reduce that soil loss, some are even planting beans directly into the cover crops but harvesting can be an issue. Modern farming equipment can produce crops with very little contamination and very little loss onto the ground.
              Micro nutrients are a problem, what is replaced, what is not, I suspect the soil is pretty “dead” after modern farming. Overall, my non expert opinion is nothing is free, there is some mining of the soil. The Amish appear to be much less intense in their cultivation, some of their corn crops are actually still gathered into shuck stacks, wheat was gathered into sheaves. Basically I suspect modern machinery with its more intense planting and harvesting results in faster loss of nutrients per acre. I have been told that animals are good for the land, that is a different subject and for a cow, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence resulting in problems.

              It is still very hard work, there is a very narrow window for planting and harvesting, the grains require a given number of days to mature, a premature frost or late spring rains reduce the growing season leading to fewer bushels per acre. Were a combine, even the newest, an automobile it would get terrible grades for reliability and service needs.

              I am a city mouse but there is something very comforting about the land, there is a true desire to preserve and not abuse it which would result in greater cashflow, I have bonded with the land and one does not abuse that sort of thing. The farmers I now know talk of the lifestyle more than talking about a business. It is different from city life, it took a few years to understand that and in part it comes from seeing the crops planted, mature and harvested, it is different from cutting a lawn.The land is precious.

              Again this lifestyle thing, on YouTube there are numerous videos on farming, Welker Farms, Millennial farmer in MN, Brian in Ohio, Cornstar in IA, they all capture this, it is multi generational families working together, even in modern ag; wives bring dinner to their husbands working the land(it happens on my farm, I didn’t get it for a long time). Youtube can give an idea, living it is very different. Farmers don’t want their land beat to heck.

              Dennis L.

            • MG says:

              My nephew took over the farm that farms the land around our village. He intends to put manure on the fields. But the lady he took it over from told him that putting manure on the fields in uneconomical. Some parts of the land are already unsuitable for growing crops because of low yields.

              The agriculture with neverending high yields without putting back nutrients (which requires a lot of energy) simply does not exist.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “(which requires a lot of energy) ”

              I can’t think of any reason the cost to move nutrients back to the far should cost more than the cost to ship farm produce to where it is being consumed. In fact, it should cost much less since most of the mass return is carbon in the atmosphere.

              But the point people make about getting the elements back to the farm is certainly true. It’s the outcome of one of the basic laws of physics, conservation of mass. Incidentally, the biggest problem is phosphorus.

            • MG says:

              Dear hkeithhenson,

              read carefully: constant high yields require a lot of energy. Low yields = low energy inputs. The current system requires constant high yields which is not sustainable.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              Why should it take more energy to haul dried shit back to the fields than it took to haul the food to where it is eaten?

            • MG – you are precisely right. Keeping high current yields is not sustainable.

            • MG says:

              Dear h,

              what farmers dry human faeces and put it back on the fields for large scale food production? I can’t imagine that in small scale. Do you mean like waiting for the sun to dry it or building a shelter for drying it? How would you collect the faeces from individual homes? Who would do that and for what wages? You? That is ridiculous…

            • DJ says:

              And then it is the half of the food that don’t end up in the toilet.

            • DB says:

              In response to the comments and questions about human waste as fertilizer: at least in the USA, many water treatment utilities sell treated solid sewage — often composted. The euphemism in the US for this material is “biosolids.” See https://www.epa.gov/biosolids/frequent-questions-about-biosolids. I suspect many, maybe most, people eat at least some food that was grown on fields fertilized, at least in part, this way (but unknown to them). Many local utilities also sell this material as high quality compost to home gardeners, and it’s often cheaper than lower quality composts that are based on yard waste and kitchen scraps or livestock manure. I’ve used composted sewage in my garden — literally tons of it — quite successfully. Of course, there is the “yuck” factor — many people are repulsed by the idea and I have been teased quite a bit by family and friends … This utility-scale kind of waste recycling, though, does consume a good bit of energy, if only for distribution of the finished product (which is made even if there is no market for it; if the utilities didn’t sell it, they dump it in landfills, which also requires energy for transport).

              Perhaps the best source from family-scale human manure recycling is the Humanure Handbook (https://humanurehandbook.com/). It requires no extra energy aside from a little manual effort to collect and compost. The author, Joseph Jenkins, also documents the history of this practice.

            • My concern in recent years has been all of the medicines that people have been taking, and if/how they pass through the system. I thought that some places stopped selling biosolids for that reason.

            • DB says:

              It is true that many kinds of uncomposted biosolids can have heavy metal and pharmaceutical contaminants. However, composting biosolids reduces them to trivial levels – perhaps even lower than that found in groundwater and regular soil (I don’t know this as I am just speculating). See a detailed analysis of one utility’s product: https://www.kingcounty.gov/services/environment/wastewater/resource-recovery/loop-biosolids/safety-quality.aspx. In his book, Jenkins also covers how composting essentially detoxifies many input materials, including contaminated soils.

            • Thanks! I suppose that it is the non-composted (in fact, non-treated) water supplies that are in worst shape. Also, eating animal products that pass antibiotics and other chemicals on to us directly.

    • Thinkstoomuch says:

      “Breakdowns at a number of its generating units have forced Eskom to ration power since Wednesday… Blackouts earlier in the year were blamed for a sharp contraction in economic growth.”

      Corruption and lack of maintenance had nothing to do with it. Just like PG&E says.

      No fear(tongue firmly in check).

      Abengoa breaks records with Xina Solar One, its third CSP plant in South Africa just last month.

      http://en.cspplaza.com/abengoa-breaks-records-with-xina-solar-one,-its-third-csp-plant-in-south-africa

      Quote
      The concentrated solar power plant, owned by Abengoa, IDC, PIC and the Community Trust, has passed the guaranteed production tests in record time. With a capacity of 100 MW, the solar thermal plant provides clean and sustainable energy even in hours without solar radiation thanks to its molten salts storage system of more than five and a half hours.

      End quote

      They just need a bunch more of those.

      T2M

      • Robert Firth says:

        “With a capacity of 100 MW, the solar thermal plant provides clean and sustainable energy even in hours without solar radiation thanks to its molten salts storage system of more than five and a half hours.”

        You mean South Africa gets 18.5 hours of daylight, year round? How do I emigrate?

        Or perhaps the quote is from somebody who has lived all his life on a planet with no nightfall. Paging Isaac Asimov.

      • And a huge amount more storage, so that they don’t burden their coal plants by ramping up and down, to offset the part of the day (and part of the year) that they are really available. All they do is somewhat save the use of coal. I hope that the benefit of this “electricity” is compared to the coal it is saving, not to the cost of electricity that the plant make.

        CSP is an expensive substitute for coal.

      • Peak coal has a lot to do with So. Africa’s electricity problem. If workers could afford higher electricity prices, coal prices could be harder as well.

        Unless Concentrated Solar Power brings down the total cost of electricity produced, it doesn’t help So. Africa.

  3. Thinkstoomuch says:

    Natural gas inventories surpass five-year average for the first time in two years

    https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=41733

    “Working natural gas inventories in the Lower 48 states totaled 3,519 billion cubic feet (Bcf) for the week ending October 11, 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report (WNGSR). This is the first week that Lower 48 states’ working gas inventories have exceeded the previous five-year average since September 22, 2017. Weekly injections in three of the past four weeks each surpassed 100 Bcf, or about 27% more than typical injections for that time of year.
    …”

    I feel this should be part of the conversation. But not sure exactly in what way.

    T2M

    • With any kind of energy product, what matters is the whole system that has been set up to use that energy. The system is really the entire economy. Are there ways that the system can expand to use a larger amount of that natural gas, or not? Is there a way that non-elite workers can become wealthier, and thus can afford more finished goods and services because of this natural gas? For example, can new manufacturers be put in place, using natural gas directly, or using more electricity from natural gas? Can extra pipelines and storage be put in place to facilitate the use of more natural gas.

      As I understand the situation, other parts of the world are also seeing their storage areas well filled. Once they are filled, all they can do is stop buying. In fact, natural gas prices around the world are low now.

      I am afraid that extra natural gas simply means that the price for natural gas drops further. Or those who are extracting natural gas with their oil resort to burning off more of the unusable natural gas. Once storage tanks get full, there is absolutely nothing that can be done with the extra natural gas. We have tried making it into Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) and sending it around the world. But the cost of creating and shipping LNG is very high, and buyers at the other end of the world don’t necessarily have the purchasing power to buy more finishes goods made with natural gas. The big issue is getting purchasing power down to the non-elite workers, so that they can afford to purchase finished goods made with the natural gas. The problem is that this isn’t really happening.

      LNG producers seem to need natural gas prices higher than they are today. But they are not getting them.

      • Xabier says:

        A tragic irony of our situation, that it is possible for a comparatively abundant resource to be financially non-viable, and burned off as unwanted.

        Imagine taking what you need for just one year from a forest, and then burning down the remainder and uprooting all the stumps……

        • Modelers everywhere have an impossible time trying to model more than a tiny piece of the economic system. They come to entirely wrong conclusions, because they cannot figure out all of the pieces that would be needed and considering them as well. It is very frustrating. Burning down the remainder looks like a reasonable approach, except it isn’t.

          • hkeithhenson says:

            “impossible time trying to model”

            One way to start would be to model the transition humans made from hunter-gatherers to farmers to a world with serious trade. Of course, human population growth would be a big part of such a model as well as big disruptive events like farming and wheeled vehicles. Also, weather events that caused famines.

            There is a recent study in Science of genetics from late Copper age to mid Bronze age in Germany. They were able to trace families over 4-5 generations. Not only fascinating but a calibration point for long term economic models.

  4. Pingback: Understanding Why the Green New Deal Won’t Really Work — Our Finite World – Truth Troubles

  5. MG says:

    One of the things I was thinking about recently is the diminishing action radius of the human species with the ageing human populations.

    And if any battery age will come on the top of this, the result will be much slower humans, which in turn means that other species will prevail over human populations.

    • Xabier says:

      The ageing population should be a good thing, but governments in the advanced economies are desperately stuffing their countries with immigrants in order to counter-balance the demographic effect and maintain demand – quite insane.

      But it’s the new orthodoxy, just as in the 19th and early 20th centuries they put pressure on people to have large families in order to provide soldiers for the mass armies which then only marched into machine guns and artillery……

      • hkeithhenson says:

        “pressure on people to have large families”

        Do you have a pointer to somewhere this is discussed? My ancestors were mostly farmers. In the pre-birth control era, they had large families. In this era of DNA testing, that gives me around 7,000 relatives among the tested, mostly 4th cousins and up. Two of them in Ireland have no connection more recent than 1762.

        • Xabier says:

          Sorry, but my comment was based on remembered general history reading from long ago, so no references: but I think the French particularly were worried about failing to keep up with Germany pre-WW1, and vice versa; and in Spain there was a system of rewards for the official status of ‘parents of large families’ under Franco if not earlier -needed to make up for the losses of the Civil War. On the whole, to have people breeding like rabbits was regarded as a good thing, by governments at least. My great-grandmother born in the 1870’s managed 11, poor thing.

        • Tim Groves says:

          My paternal grandmother, who was born in in the 1880s in London, gave birth to seventeen children, eleven of whom survived to adulthood. The 1918 influenza epidemic took three of them. My father, born in 1930, was her fifteenth child. If she had stopped at a reasonable number, he and I would never have been conceived and you lot would have been speared my rantings and ravings.

          Grandfather was a dock worker and the family lived in a large three-floor terraced house in Cable Street, scene of the famous battle between Oswald Mosley’s fascists and communists who wanted to stop them from marching. My father insists he was hit on the head by a brick thrown by the communists, although he wasn’t badly injured so it may well have been something lighter.

          Why did my grandparents choose have so many children? Was it even a conscious choice for them? Among the factors, they were Catholics and were following God’s injunction; they were working class and just “doing what comes naturally”, she was British and doing her patriotic duty to produce soldiers, sailors, and possibly administrators to help run the Empire; there was still considerable infant mortality during that era and so people tended to have more kids than needed in the expectation that some wouldn’t make it to adulthood; a lot of the children lived at home into adulthood and worked and brought home income for the household and so grandmother had a a Mother Hen role in the family; and possibly she was one of those women who enjoyed being pregnant and lactating a lot of of the time.

          I remember a few indigenous families in East London who were still having more than ten kids as late as the 1970s, although by that time they were a distinct rarity and considered rather strange to put it mildly by the neighbors.

          • Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) is the person most connected with the idea that germs cause disease. He invented the process of pasteurization, and he is known as the father of modern hygiene.

            Once people realized that germs caused disease, there was a sharp increase in the percentage of babies that were born that lived to maturity. Religions codified what seemed to work at one point in time, at a given level of scientific knowledge. Once the germ theory of disease was figured out, there was no need for nearly so many births. The invention of modern birth control and “the pill” helped greatly as well.

          • hkeithhenson says:

            “gave birth to seventeen children, eleven of whom survived to adulthood”

            That’s impressive for being in a big city like London. But by that time, London had clean water and sewers.

            A friend of mine though DNA testing found that one of his ancestors back around the middle of the 1800s had at least 25 children by 4 women. And he wasn’t even a Mormon.

            Digging around in the collateral branches of my ancestors, I found one where of 8 children, only 3 of them ever married. And another case where none of 9 seem to have left descendants. Then there was a pair of sib that lived together into old age. For the time, they were very wealthy.

            • My G-Grandmother had 21

              14 of whom I think survived

              Any advance on 21???

              basically they were slaves—the boys went down the mines, the girls went into domestic service

    • I think you are right.

      Aging humans do tend to cut back on what they do. Some are in poor health, or are married to someone in poor health. We recently visited the man who was the best man at my husband and my wedding, over 40 years ago. The best man is about 10 years older than my husband and I are. He is now using a walker. In fact, when he and his wife go out, she often pushes him around in a wheelchair. Needless to say, they don’t go out very much. Admittedly, his health is worse than average. He smoked for many years and has COPD, among other things. He is very underweight.

      The population is adding more and more elderly people who are limited in what they can do. These people could not take jobs, even if they were available to them.

      If an electrical system requires batteries to time-shift when that electricity is available for use, the net energy from that system is very much lower than from a system that can only gives electricity when it is generated. There can’t be much net energy out from such a time-shifting electrical system, so transportation will necessarily be very limited. Government programs, such as pensions for the elderly, will need to be extremely limited. Money to be spent on research for new antibiotics and new vaccines will mostly be unavailable. The species that will prevail over humans are likely to be microbes that attack humans. Some of them will act through diseases carried by insects. Some will infect us directly.

      • Dennis L. says:

        I don’t doubt you are right about many things, but we humans are very robust. At Madison had a very famous geneticist during a upper level genetics course opine that modern medicine was not very good for the genetic health of the population. Man to our good fortune has managed to improve the quality of life for many, nature does not work that way, the weak, the infirm are the gazelles on the periphery of the heard, it is the same with schools of fish, the periphery is not a good place to be when the lion or shark is hungry.

        We are going to survive, some will even thrive, it takes incredible work to leave the periphery of the herd much less get closer to the middle; if it has been done, it can be done. Perhaps some of our wondrous achievements are not beneficial to the population as a whole, nature is nature and what will be will be; we determine less of our fate than our hubris leads us to believe.

        Chile is experiencing riots, something major seems to be happening to civilization and at varied geographic locations. Anyone have thoughts?

        Denniws L.

        • Predecessors to humans made it through ice ages, so we certainly have been pretty robust, I will agree.

          • hkeithhenson says:

            “made it through ice ages”

            I think for the most part humans moved south during the ice ages.

            I think (or at least hope) that humans can solve the problems we face. But if things really come apart, down to the technology of say 1800, It will be *really* hard on women. If half the children die before they reproduce, then to keep the population stable, the average woman would have to have more than 4 children. Going back to hunter-gatherer days, they would need to have about 6 kids. Of course, the childhood mortality rate would strongly depend on how much of our current medical knowledge was kept or perhaps reinvented.

            There was a recent article in Science about sippy cups used to feed cow or goat milk to babies or toddlers thousands of years ago. The researchers were wondering how the kids avoided dying from the bacteria that would live in the cups. I think it is possible that parents of that time knew to rinse the cups with boiling water.

            Or maybe the kids were really resistant to bacteria.

            • info says:

              High child mortality will incentivize women marrying younger than they do now.

            • Kowalainen says:

              I don’t think people “moved” south due to climate change which took place over millennia.

              Worse climate equals less offspring, at least it did before IC. It is a gradual process of subjugation to the relentless forces of nature.

            • Hunter-gatherers did, in fact, move around. If they found the food better in one part of their range than another, they would likely spend more of their time in that part of the range, and even extend the range further in that direction. So there might have been some drifting in the right direction.

            • JesseJames says:

              God instructed the Israelites to wash their hands in running water.
              The principle of cleanliness to avoid diseases was given to them….no technology needed.

            • Ideas that worked have been passed on throughout the ages through religious teachings. I remember looking up hygiene or something similar, a while back, and finding that religious ideas promoted some of the same ideas.

              But it took Pasteur and I presume others to get the idea across that doctors needed to wash their hands after they examined a corpse, before delivering a baby. This new practice was part of what reduced the number of deaths among newborns and their mothers.

            • Kowalainen says:

              More likely a slow adaptation to the colder climate, goin’ fishin’ instead of hunting reindeer as they went borderline extinct if we are talking about last glacial maxima.

              The oldest, dated to 11.000 years BP, remains from Paleolithic people found in Sweden has been from the north, fairly close to the Cap of the North, in Aareavaara.

              “Boreal groups may have learned how to hunt marine mammals and/or developed a technology to do so. For example, on the Bodträskfors site, two different periods of use are seen in the archaeological record: one with indeterminate animal species associated with a pine forest and dated approximately 6000–5400 calBC, and another one with the presence of alder, elk and ringed seal dated approximately 5200–4900 calBC, with the seal bone yielding the youngest one.”

              http://www.sarks.fi/fa/PDF/FA33_5.pdf

              People adapt; a reindeer hunter becoming a fisherman living in the thin strip of land between the sea and wall of glacial ice at the cap of the north. Whatever it takes.

            • DB says:

              Gail, the scientist who discovered the importance of handwashing in the context you described was Ignaz Semmelweis (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignaz_Semmelweis). He’s a tragic hero, as the scientific and medical establishment ignored and then ridiculed his evidence for decades, even though his evidence was far stronger than anything the mainstream had. It wasn’t until Lister and others advanced germ theory that medical practice began to change.

            • Thanks! What seem to be radical ideas take a long time to be accepted.

        • MG says:

          The humans lose their robustness with the decline of the available energy and the degradation of the environment.

          The survival of the humans under such conditions is questionable.

      • microbial life is the dominant species here, god didnt create the world for us to fool around in

        they were around way before we were and will still be here after weve gone

        they will not be aware of our passing

  6. Get HaPpY says:

    Now you know why …..

    Yahoo Finance’s Morning Brief newsletter has been revamped!
    In oil-rich region, Venezuelans fear catastrophe if Trump forces Chevron to leave
    By Luc Cohen and Mariela Nava
    ReutersOctober 18, 2019, 12:02 PM EDT

    LA CAÑADA DE URDANETA, Venezuela (Reuters) – With the $2 he earns in wages each week working as a cargo driver for Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, 56-year-old Freddy Brito cannot even afford to buy one kilogram (2.2 lb) of cheese.
    To feed himself and his wife as the once-prosperous OPEC nation suffers a hyperinflationary economic collapse, Brito depends on a monthly basket of rice, canned tuna, beans and other products valued at $200 given to him by California-based Chevron Corp, PDVSA’s minority partner at the Petroboscan field in western Zulia state where he works.
    But Chevron’s future in Venezuela now depends on U.S. President Donald Trump, who must decide https://www.reuters.com/article/venezuela-oil-chevron-usa/trump-administration-renews-chevron-license-in-venezuela-for-3-months-idUSL2N24Q1WL by Oct. 25 whether or not to renew a waiver allowing Chevron to keep operating in Venezuela despite U.S. sanctions on PDVSA, part of Washington’s campaign to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
    The benefits enjoyed by Brito and some 1,200 other Petroboscan employees and contractors are not available for most of cash-strapped PDVSA’s 100,000-odd workers, who have seen their wages eroded due to inflation, prompting thousands to resign https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-oil-workers-insight/under-military-rule-venezuela-oil-workers-quit-in-a-stampede-idUSKBN1HO0H9 and join the 4 million Venezuelans who have emigrated.
    “If Chevron leaves, we would be left without a helping hand, because what little we have comes from them,” Brito said.

    Why would countries wish to rehook from the US Dollar?
    When I lived in Boston, Venuzuela through Chevron funded a winter heating oil project for the poor.
    Suppose what goes around doesn’t go around with BAU.

    • Yes, the Venezuelan people need Chevron. They also need the oil that Chevron can produce for direct use within the country. If they could sell the oil outside the country, at a reasonably high price, that would even be better from the point of view of Venezuela.

      We are incredibly dependent on oil and what it can do for the world economy. It is too bad that few can see this.

  7. Xabier says:

    Traditional Manure:

    In the mid-18th century James Boswell met an inventor, I think in Holland, who was busy trying to produce a condensed form of manure.

    Boswell was excited, as he knew that the cost of carting heavy and bulky manure to distant fields was one of the greatest expenses of an estate, and took a lot of time as well.

    A basic fact of pre-mechanical agriculture.

    The manure produced by peasants simply went on their gardens…….

    • Get HaPpY says:

      Small scale organic farmers seem to concentrate on preparing Compost for their market gardens.
      Eliot and Barbara Coleman

      Lot of hands on inputs….

      • MG says:

        They have nice straw bales: did they make them manually?

        • Get HaPpY says:

          Old Mensch Scott Hearing, who actually “sold” Eliot Coleman the property he resides on now in Harborside, Maine as a young idealistic Back to Lander way way back circa 1968, used seaweed gathered on the Cove beach! There is hay making in that area, don’t know if Eliot used the scythe in the video to harvest it.
          From my last visit there some 4-5 years ago, Four Seasons Farm, would not exist as it is without BAU. Lots of hardware in place from the outside supply line.
          That’s not to diminish Eliot or Barbara’s achievements, which are spectacular given the circumstances.
          Hard to believe Eliot is 80 years old! Ouch….still going strong
          Humourous short interview posted…

          Went there with a degree in Spanish Literature!

  8. Harry McGibbs says:

    “My base case scenario is that the current regime of fiscal and monetary policy has become exhausted. This is despite the fact that they have already gone beyond any measure of conventionality or reason.

    “Therefore, in order to meaningfully boost asset prices higher from the current nose-bleed level, central banks will need to move further into the realm of unorthodoxy by deploying massive amounts of helicopter money directly to the public.”

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/born2invest.com/articles/will-rate-cuts-be-enough/amp/

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “…the Bank of Japan is laying the groundwork for deepening negative interest rates, analysts polled by Reuters said, with two-thirds of respondents expecting the central bank to loosen monetary policy this month.”

      https://www.google.com/amp/s/uk.mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUKKBN1WX2OQ

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “Bond funds holding assets worth about $1.7tn could face difficulties in repaying investors promptly if volatility increases, according to the IMF, which warned that problems in fixed-income markets could potentially destabilise the global financial system.

        “The warning coincides with mounting fears that a dangerous pricing bubble has developed in fixed-income markets where bonds worth $15tn — about a quarter of the debt issued by governments and companies globally — are trading with negative yields.

        “…Creditors, in effect, pay to hold debt. This bizarre reversal of normal practice has triggered alarm bells because bonds are a core holding for institutional investors worldwide.

        “Concerns among regulators that bond funds might struggle to meet repayment requests by investors have been amplified by recent liquidity problems involving Neil Woodford, H2O and GAM.”

        https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.ft.com/content/e5edad9a-4bf4-4941-beb3-115ef9f13437

        • Harry McGibbs says:

          “…the ECB is trapped or lost in a situation with an economy that is moving towards a low-growth situation, the central bank runs an extreme monetary policy and is facing an emerging internal fight about the monetary policy direction – this is close to a disastrous situation for one of the world’s leading central banks…”

          https://ceoworld.biz/2019/10/19/ecb-a-lost-central-bank/

    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

      “… central banks will need to move further into the realm of unorthodoxy by deploying massive amounts of helicopter money directly to the public.”

      that, and the more-negative interest rates… absolutely desperate measures…

      I’m still doubting the helicopter money, because CBs never seem to be in the business of providing anything “to the public”…

      I would guess interest rates will go more and more negative throughout 2020 until this crazy part of The Endgame blows up…

      it’s not insayne, but it just shows how desperate CBs must be now that they have essentially run out of legitimate responses to the 2019 economic downturn…

      up until now, I didn’t think this would “blow up” like 2008, but now it seems very likely to blow worse than then…

      it’s actually quite exciting, in a kind of sick schadenfreude type way…

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “it’s actually quite exciting, in a kind of sick schadenfreude type way…”

        This era is great theatre and watching events unfold through the prism of Gail’s insights is very rewarding.

        Less fun, of course, if you find yourself directly and painfully affected by these issues, as eventually all of us will, I imagine.

      • Xabier says:

        I thought it would all be stiffled and smoothed over , somehow, and so not be as noticeable as 2008 while the rot, of course, continued beneath the surface.

        But I’m not so sure about that now, the global recession is deepening, orders falling rapidly, now seeping into services, etc, and there is nothing to reverse it at the level of the ordinary consumer, even if govts. can still meet their debt repayments.

        There is nothing they can do to make the mass of people better off, while their burden of costs just grows.

        We shall see: everything is so falsified these days…..

  9. I’d like to get more info about such as the Iranian oil bourse on Kish Island — it’s been open since 2008, & jilting the “petrodollar” (it’s been said that that’s part of the motivation for US hostility toward Iran — Saddam H.’s regime had been doing the same thing).
    Isn’t this connected with the stagnation/decline of the US dollar as the “world reserve currency”?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_oil_bourse
    https://www.google.com/search?source=hp&ei=lS-rXZ7ELJ6z0PEPxK2SsAQ&q=iran+oil+bourse+kish&oq=iran+oil+bourse+kish&gs_l=psy-ab.3…2478.20359..23374…0.0..0.514.5689.0j2j12j4j1j1……0….1..gws-wiz…….0i131j0j0i22i30j33i22i29i30.OODA0883PxM&ved=0ahUKEwje4tm21ajlAhWeGTQIHcSWBEYQ4dUDCAg&uact=5

    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

      interesting…

      okay, so this is the last update:

      “March 20, 2012: The Iranian oil bourse will no longer trade oil in the US dollar but start trading oil in other currencies such as the euro, yen, yuan, rupee or a basket of currencies.”

      if that is indeed the final phase, then it really didn’t rock the world or the US dollar…

      though someone more knowledgeable than me could probably tell us if this is just an early stage of the world getting away from the US dollar…

  10. Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:
    • I am sure that there were a number of other countries with problems as well, that just didn’t make it to this list.

      Chile is one of the countries on the short list of countries with problems. Chile supposedly has “upward of 50 percent of the world’s lithium reserves,” so it might be helpful for Chile to stick together. Lithium prices seem to be way down from 2016 and 2017 prices.

      Copper is Chile’s biggest export, representing 50% of Chile’s total exports, according to this article. Chile provided 27.6% of the world’s copper production in 2016. Its prices aren’t all that good, either.

      I imagine that lack of tax revenue and revenue for wages are big pieces of Chile’s problems.

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