How Renewable Energy Models Can Produce Misleading Indications

The energy needs of the world’s economy seem to be easy to model. Energy consumption is measured in a variety of different ways including kilowatt hours, barrels of oil equivalent, British thermal units, kilocalories and joules. Two types of energy are equivalent if they produce the same number of units of energy, right?

For example, xkcd’s modeler Randall Munroe explains the benefit of renewable energy in the video below. He tells us that based on his model, solar, if scaled up to ridiculous levels, can provide enough renewable energy for ourselves and a half-dozen of our neighbors. Wind, if scaled up to absurd levels, can provide enough renewable energy for ourselves and a dozen of our neighbors.

There is a major catch to this analysis, however. The kinds of energy produced by wind and solar are not the kinds of energy that the economy needs. Wind and solar produce intermittent electricity available only at specific times and places. What the world economy needs is a variety of different energy types that match the energy requirements of the many devices in place in the world today. This energy needs to be transported to the right place and saved for the right time of day and the right time of year. There may even be a need to store this energy from year to year, because of possible droughts.

I think of the situation as being analogous to researchers deciding that it would be helpful or more efficient if humans could change their diets to 100% grass in the next 20 years. Grass is a form of energy product, but it is not the energy product that humans normally consume. It doesn’t seem to be toxic to humans in small quantities. It seems to grow quite well. Switching to the use of grass for food would seem to be beneficial from a CO2 perspective. The fact that humans have not evolved to eat grass is similar to the fact that the manufacturing and transport sectors of today’s economy have not developed around the use of intermittent electricity from wind and solar.

Substituting Grass for Food Might “Work,” but It Would Require Whole New Systems 

If we consider other species, we find that animals with four stomachs can, in fact, live quite well on a diet of grass. These animals often have teeth that grow continuously because the silica in grass tends to wear down their teeth. If we could just get around these little details, we might be able to make the change. We would probably need to grow extra stomachs and add continuously growing teeth. Other adjustments might also be needed, such as a smaller brain. This would especially be the case if a grass-only diet is inadequate to support today’s brain growth and activity.

The problem with nearly all energy analyses today is that they use narrow boundaries. They look at only a small piece of the problem–generally the cost (or “energy cost”) of the devices themselves–and assume that this is the only cost involved in a change. In fact, researchers need to recognize that whole new systems may be required, analogous to the extra stomachs and ever-growing teeth. The issue is sometimes described as the need to have “wide boundaries” in analyses.

If the xkcd analysis netted out the indirect energy costs of the system, including energy related to all of the newly required systems, the results of the analysis would likely change considerably. The combined ability of wind and solar to power both one’s own home and those of a dozen and a half neighbors would likely disappear. Way too much of the output of the renewable system would be used to make the equivalent of extra stomachs and ever-growing teeth for the system to work. The world economy might not work as in the past, either, if the equivalent of the brain needs to be smaller.

Is “Energy Used by a Dozen of Our Neighbors” a Proper Metric?

Before I continue with my analysis of what goes wrong in modeling intermittent renewable energy, let me say a few words about the way Munroe quantifies the outcome of his energy analysis. He talks about “energy consumed by a household and a dozen of its neighbors.” We often hear news items about how many households can be served by a new electricity provider or how many households have been taken offline by a storm. The metric used by Munroe is similar. But, does it tell us what we need to know in this case?

Our economy requires energy consumption by many types of users, including governments to make roads and schools, farmers to plant crops and manufacturers to make devices of all kinds. Leaving non-residential energy consumption out of the calculation doesn’t make much sense. (Actually, we are not quite certain what Munroe has included in his calculation. His wording suggests that he included only residential energy consumption.) In the US, my analysis indicates that residential users consume only about a third of total energy.1 The rest is consumed by businesses and governments.

If we want to adjust Munroe’s indications to include energy consumed by businesses and governments, we need to divide the indicated number of residential households provided with energy by about three. Thus, instead of the units being “Energy Consumed by a Dozen of Our Neighbors,” the units would be “Energy Consumed by Four of Our Neighbors, Including Associated Energy Use by Governments and Businesses.” The apparently huge benefit provided by wind and solar becomes much smaller when we divide by three, even before any other adjustments are made.

What Might the Indirect Costs of Wind and Solar Be? 

There are a number of indirect costs:

(1) Transmission costs are much higher than those of other types of electricity, but they are not charged back to wind and solar in most studies.

A 2014 study by the International Energy Agency indicates that transmission costs for wind are approximately three times the cost of transmission costs for coal or nuclear. The amount of excess costs tends to increase as intermittent renewables become a larger share of the total. Some of the reason for higher transmission costs for both wind and solar are the following:

(a) Disproportionately more lines need to be built for wind and solar because transmission lines need to be scaled to the maximum output, rather than the average output. Wind output is typically available 25% to 35% of the time; solar is typically available 10% to 25% of the time.

(b) There tend to be longer distances between where renewable energy is captured and where it is consumed, compared to traditional generation.

(c) Renewable electricity is not created in a fossil fuel power plant, with the same controls over the many aspects of grid electricity. The transmission system must therefore make corrections which would not be needed for other types of electricity.

(2) With increased long distance electricity transmission, there is a need for increased maintenance of transmission lines. If this is not performed adequately, fires are likely, especially in dry, windy areas.

There is recent evidence that inadequate maintenance of transmission lines is a major fire hazard.

In California, inadequate electricity line maintenance has led to the bankruptcy of the Northern California utility PG&E. In recent weeks, PG&E has initiated two preventative cut-offs of power, one affecting as many as two million individuals.

The Texas Wildfire Mitigation Project reports, “Power lines have caused more than 4,000 wildfires in Texas in the past three and a half years.”

Venezuela has a long distance transmission line from its major hydroelectric plant to Caracas. One of the outages experienced in that country seems to be related to fires close to this transmission line.

There are things that can be done to prevent these fires, such as burying the lines underground. Even using insulated wire, instead of ordinary transmission wire, seems to help. But any solution has a cost involved. These costs need to be recognized in modeling the indirect cost of adding a huge amount of renewables.

(3) A huge investment in charging stations will be needed, if anyone other than the very wealthy are to use electric vehicles.

Clearly, the wealthy can afford electric vehicles. They generally have garages with connections to electrical power. With this arrangement, they can easily charge a vehicle that is powered by electricity when it is convenient.

The catch is that the less wealthy often do not have similar opportunities for charging electric vehicles. They also cannot afford to spend hours waiting for their vehicles to charge. They will need inexpensive rapid-charging stations, located in many, many places, if electric vehicles are to be a suitable choice. The cost of rapid-charging will likely need to include a fee for road maintenance, since this is one of the costs that today is included in fuel prices.

(4) Intermittency adds a very substantial layer of costs. 

A common belief is that intermittency can be handled by rather small changes, such as time-of-day pricing, smart grids and cutting off power to a few selected industrial customers if there isn’t enough electricity to go around. This belief is more or less true if the system is basically a fossil fuel and nuclear system, with a small percentage of renewables. The situation changes as more intermittent renewables are added.

Once more than a small percentage of solar is added to the electric grid, batteries are needed to smooth out the rapid transition that occurs at the end of the day when workers are returning home and would like to eat their dinners, even though the sun has set. There are also problems with electricity from wind cutting off during storms; batteries can help smooth out these transitions.

There are also longer-term problems. Major storms can disrupt electricity for several days, at any time of the year. For this reason, if a system is to run on renewables alone, it would be desirable to have battery backup for at least three days. In the short video below, Bill Gates expresses dismay at the idea of trying to provide a three-day battery backup for the quantity of electricity used by the city of Tokyo.

We do not at this point have nearly enough batteries to provide a three-day battery backup for the world’s electricity supply. If the world economy is to run on renewables, electricity consumption would need to rise from today’s level, making it even more difficult to store a three-day supply.

A much more difficult problem than three-day storage of electricity is the need for seasonal storage, if renewable energy is to be used to any significant extent. Figure 1 shows the seasonal pattern of energy consumption in the United States.

Figure 1. US energy consumption by month of year, based on data of the US Energy Information Administration. “All Other” is total energy, less electricity and transportation energy. It includes natural gas used for home heating. It also includes oil products used for farming, as well as fossil fuels of all kinds used for industrial purposes.

In contrast with this pattern, the production of solar energy tends to peak in June; it falls to a low level in December to February. Hydroelectric power tends to peak in spring, but its quantity is often quite variable from year to year. Wind power is quite variable, both from year to year and month to month.

Our economy cannot handle many starts and stops of electricity supply. For example, temperatures need to stay high for melting metals. Elevators should not stop between floors when the electricity stops. Refrigeration needs to continue when fresh meat is being kept cold.

There are two approaches that can be used to work around seasonal energy problems:

  1. Greatly overbuild the renewables-based energy system, to provide enough electricity when total energy is most needed, which tends to be in winter.
  2. Add a huge amount of storage, such as battery storage, to store electricity for months or even years, to mitigate the intermittency.

Either of these approaches is extremely high cost. These costs are like adding extra stomachs to the human system. They have not been included in any model to date, as far as I know. The cost of one of these approaches needs to be included in any model analyzing the costs and benefits of renewables, if there is any intention of using renewables as more than a tiny share of total energy consumption.

Figure 2 illustrates the high energy cost that can occur by adding substantial battery backup to an electrical system. In this example, the “net energy” that the system provides is essentially eliminated by the battery backup. In this analysis, Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) compares energy output to energy input. It is one of many metrics used to estimate whether a device is providing adequate energy output to justify the front-end energy inputs.

Figure 2. Graham Palmer’s chart of Dynamic Energy Returned on Energy Invested from “Energy in Australia.”

The example in Figure 2 is based on the electricity usage pattern in Melbourne, Australia, which has a relatively mild climate. The example uses a combination of solar panels, batteries and diesel backup generation. Solar panels and backup batteries provide electricity for the 95% of annual electricity usage that is easiest to cover with these devices; diesel generation is used for the remaining 5%.

The Figure 2 example could be adjusted to be “renewable only” by adding significantly more batteries, a large number of solar panels, or some combination of these. These additional batteries and solar panels would be very lightly used, bringing the EROEI of the system down to an even lower level.

To date, a major reason that the electricity system has been able to avoid the costs of overbuilding or of adding major battery backup is the small share they represent of electricity production. In 2018, wind amounted to 5% of world electricity; solar amounted to 2%. As percentages of world energy supply, they represented 2% and 1% respectively.

A second reason that the electricity system has been able to avoid addressing the intermittency issue is because backup electricity providers (coal, natural gas, and nuclear) have been forced to provide backup services without adequate compensation for the value of services that they are providing. The way that this happens is by giving wind and solar the subsidy of “going first.” This practice creates a problem because backup providers have substantial fixed costs, and they often are not being adequately compensated for these fixed costs.

If there is any plan to cease using fossil fuels, all of these backup electricity providers, including nuclear, will disappear. (Nuclear also depends on fossil fuels.) Renewables will need to stand on their own. This is when the intermittency problem will become overwhelming. Fossil fuels can be stored relatively inexpensively; electricity storage costs are huge. They include both the cost of the storage system and the loss of energy that takes place when storage is used.

In fact, the underfunding issue associated with allowing intermittent renewables to go first is already becoming an overwhelming problem in a few places. Ohio has recently chosen to provide subsidies to coal and nuclear providers as a way of working around this issue. Ohio is also reducing funding for renewables.

 (5) The cost of recycling wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries needs to be reflected in cost estimates. 

A common assumption in energy analyses seems to be that somehow, at the end of the design lifetime of wind turbines, solar panels and batteries, all of these devices will somehow disappear at no cost. If recycling is done, the assumption is made that the cost of recycling will be less than the value of the materials made available from the recycling.

We are discovering now that recycling isn’t free. Very often, the energy cost of recycling materials is greater than the energy used in mining them fresh. This problem needs to be considered in analyzing the real cost of renewables.

 (6) Renewables don’t directly substitute for many of the devices/processes we have today. This could lead to a major step-down in how the economy operates and a much longer transition. 

There is a long list of things that renewables don’t substitute for. Today, we cannot make wind turbines, solar panels, or today’s hydroelectric dams without fossil fuels. This, by itself, makes it clear that the fossil fuel system will need to be maintained for at least the next twenty years.

There are many other things that we cannot make with renewables alone. Steel, fertilizer, cement and plastics are some examples that Bill Gates mentions in his video above. Asphalt and many of today’s drugs are other examples of goods that cannot be made with renewables alone. We would need to change how we live without these goods. We could not pave roads (except with stone) or build many of today’s buildings with renewables alone.

It seems likely that manufacturers would try to substitute wood for fossil fuels, but the quantity of wood available would be far too low for this purpose. The world would encounter deforestation issues within a few years.

(7) It is likely that the transition to renewables will take 50 or more years. During this time, wind and solar will act more like add-ons to the fossil fuel system than they will act like substitutes for it. This also increases costs.

In order for the fossil fuel industries to continue, a large share of their costs will need to continue. The people working in fossil fuel industries need to be paid year around, not just when electrical utilities need backup electrical power. Fossil fuels will need pipelines, refineries and trained people. Companies using fossil fuels will need to pay their debts related to existing facilities. If natural gas is used as backup for renewables, it will need reservoirs to hold natural gas for winter, besides pipelines. Even if natural gas usage is reduced by, say, 90%, its costs are likely to fall by a much smaller percentage, say 30%, because a large share of costs are fixed.

One reason that a very long transition will be needed is because there is not even a path to transition away from fossil fuels in many cases. If a change is to be made, inventions to facilitate these changes are a prerequisite. Then these inventions need to be tested in actual situations. Next, new factories are needed to make the new devices. It is likely that some way will be needed to pay existing owners for the loss of value of their existing fossil fuel powered devices; if not, there are likely to be huge debt defaults. It is only after all of these steps have taken place that the transition can actually take place.


These indirect costs lead to a huge question mark regarding whether it even makes sense to encourage the widespread use of wind and solar. Renewables can reduce CO2 emissions if they really substitute for fossil fuels in making electricity. If they are mostly high cost add-ons to the system, there is a real question: Does it even make sense to mandate a transition to wind and solar?

Do Wind and Solar Really Offer a Longer-Term Future than Fossil Fuels?

At the end of the xkcd video shown above, Munroe makes the observation that wind and solar are available indefinitely, but fossil fuel supplies are quite limited.

I agree with Munroe that fossil fuel supplies are quite limited. This occurs because energy prices do not rise high enough for us to extract very much of them. The prices of finished products made with fossil fuels need to be low enough for customers to be able to afford them. If this is not the case, purchases of discretionary goods (for example cars and smart phones) will fall. Since cars and smart phones are made with commodities, including fossil fuels, the lower “demand” for these finished goods will lead to falling prices of commodities, including oil. In fact, we seem to have experienced falling oil prices most of the time since 2008.

Figure 3. Inflation adjusted weekly average Brent Oil price, based on EIA oil spot prices and US CPI-urban inflation.

It is hard to see why renewables would last any longer than fossil fuels. If their unsubsidized cost is any higher than fossil fuels, this would be one strike against them. They are also very dependent on fossil fuels for making spare parts and for repairing transmission lines.

It is interesting that climate change modelers seem to be convinced that very high amounts of fossil fuels can be extracted in the future. The question of how much fossil fuels can really be extracted is another modeling issue that needs to be examined closely. The amount of future extraction seems to be highly dependent on how well the current economic system holds together, including the extent of globalization. Without globalization, fossil fuel extraction seems likely to decline quickly.

Do We Have Too Much Faith in Models? 

The idea of using renewables certainly sounds appealing, but the name is deceiving. Most renewables, except for wood and dung, aren’t very renewable. In fact, they depend on fossil fuels.

The whole issue of whether wind and solar are worthwhile needs to be carefully analyzed. The usual hallmark of an energy product that is of substantial benefit to the economy is that its production tends to be very profitable. With these high profits, governments can tax the owners heavily. Thus, the profits can be used to aid the rest of the economy. This is one of the physical manifestations of the “net energy” that the energy product provides.

If wind and solar were really providing substantial net energy, they would not need subsidies, not even the subsidy of going first. They would be casting off profits to benefit the rest of the economy. Perhaps renewables aren’t as beneficial as many people think they are. Perhaps researchers have put too much faith in distorted models.

Note:

[1] This is my estimate, based on EIA and BP data. With respect to electricity, EIA data shows that in the US, residential users consume about 38% of the total. With respect to fuels that are not used for transportation and not used for electricity, US residential users consume about 19% of these fuels. Combining these two categories, US households use about 31% of non-transportation fuels.

With respect to transportation fuels, the closest approximation we can get is by looking at petroleum use, divided between gasoline and other products. According to BP data, on a worldwide basis, 26% of petroleum is burned as gasoline. In the United States, about 46% of petroleum consumption is burned as gasoline. Of course, some of this gasoline usage is for non-residential use. For example, cars used by police and sales representatives are typically powered by gasoline, as are small trucks used by businesses.

Furthermore, the US is a major importer of manufactured goods from China and other parts of the world. The embodied energy in these imported goods never gets into US energy consumption statistics. In theory, we should add a little energy consumption by foreign manufacturers to supplement total reported US energy consumption.

The selection of “about a third” is based on these considerations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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, Energy policy, Financial Implications and tagged electricity transmission, EROEI, intermittent renewables, solar, wind energy. Bookmark the permalink.

1,605 Responses to How Renewable Energy Models Can Produce Misleading Indications

  1. “….the current rally [in the stock markets] has reached a precarious cornerstone in recent weeks and months. Declining volatility and extreme levels of “greed” are also evidence of the final stage of the rally.

    “The duration of this growth is now mostly dependent on the creativity of central bank policies. The central banks still have the opportunity to extend the rally of the markets for months ahead. However, they are risking to get an even less manageable drop in the future, capable of “correcting” all the growth of the last decade.”

    https://www.fxempire.com/forecasts/article/when-the-market-volcano-erupts-612290

  2. “Chile’s currency dropped to a record low on Tuesday as hundreds of thousands took to the streets with anti-government demonstrations showing no signs of abating.”

    https://www.dw.com/en/chile-protests-hundreds-of-thousands-take-part-as-peso-hits-record-low/a-51218587

  3. “The 2020s are set to be a decade of dramatic economic and social upheaval, reversing many of the trends of the past 40 years, according to one of the world’s largest banks.

    “In what it describes as “the decade of peak”, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) analysts say a range of economic and social challenges are “all heading to a boiling point” next decade.

    “”We enter the next decade with interest rates at 5,000-year lows, the largest asset bubble in history, a planet that is heating up, and a deflationary profile of debt, disruption and demographics,” the report warns.

    “”We will end it with nearly 1 billion people added to the world, a rapidly ageing population, up to 800 million people facing the threat of job automation and the environment on the brink of catastrophic change.””

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-13/the-2020s-set-to-be-an-economic-turning-point/11699386

    • “The global economy is going through an investment drought mainly brought about by trade uncertainty causing a steep decline in growth, the Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has said.”

      https://www.thenational.ae/business/economy/trade-tension-causing-global-investment-drought-says-oecd-chief-1.936793

      • “The world’s economic model has “broken down” as the business practices of multinational corporations and digital platforms put a growing number of workers at risk of exploitation and modern slavery, according to a leading labor rights campaigner…

        “About two billion people – more than 60% of the world’s workforce – are in informal work, leaving them vulnerable to being underpaid, overworked and treated like slaves, she said.”

        https://www.reuters.com/article/us-slavery-conference-workers/global-economy-breakdown-seen-putting-more-workers-at-risk-of-slavery-idUSKBN1XN02O

      • Yoshua says:

        Chinese imports and exports have basically seen zero growth for five years.

        https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EJMfPXrUwAU_TJO?format=png&name=small

        • 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.
          Gail Tverberg says:

          Interesting point!

          This is related to the falling price of coal and oil. The currency value of these is flat.

          • 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.
            Gail Tverberg says:

            I do have a new post close to finished, but my computer does not like the hotel internet. I can answer comments on my iPad, but I cannot finish up the post. So it may still be a bit until I get my post up.

  4. Yoshua says:

    “FED’S HARKER SAYS ONE LESSON OF REPO VOLATILITY IS FIVE FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS OWN ABOUT 80% OF RESERVES AND WERE NOT WILLING TO LEND”

    The rest of the banks are broke?

  5. Get HaPpY says:

    But I like going online and shop!
    Those Amazon Returns? They’re Killing the Environment.
    Adam Minter
    BloombergNovember 12, 2019, 7:00 PM EST
    https://finance.yahoo.com/news/those-amazon-returns-killing-environment-000002170.html

    Bloomberg Opinion) — In December, American consumers will return more than 1 million packages to e-commerce retailers each day. It’s a flood of unwanted stuff that’s expected to peak on Jan. 2, which UPS Inc. cheekily calls “National Returns Day.”For UPS and other shippers, that’s reason for plenty of post-holiday cheer. For everyone else, those tens of millions of packages are a real problem. By one recent estimate, they accounted for 5 billion pounds of landfilled waste in the U.S. alone and an additional 15 million tons of carbon emitted into the atmosphere

    No joke, I have a SISTER that shops and shops and returns and returns. It drives everyone CrAzY!
    BAU loves it….

  6. Yoshua says:

    In Bolivia a fascist revolution took place as the military took hold of the power from the socialist government.

    Hurray!

    Now the kilIing of the poor can start.

    But what happens when the fascists fail?

  7. Get HaPpY says:

    Oh, this is a new one.. TECHNICAL LIMITS…
    https://finance.yahoo.com/news/aircraft-engines-hitting-technical-limits-073538633.html
    (Bloomberg Opinion) — The high-pressure turbine blades in a Trent 1000 passenger jet engine have to withstand temperatures far above the melting point of the nickel alloy from which they’re made. It’s a fiendish technical challenge for the engine’s British manufacturer, Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc — comparable to trying to stop an ice cube melting inside a kitchen oven on full blast. The solution found by the company’s engineers was to blow cool air through tiny holes in the blades. Unfortunately this clever approach has encountered some unexpected problems.
    Boeing 787 aircraft operated by British Airways, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Virgin Atlantic and others have been grounded in recent months for inspections and repairs because the Trent 1000 engine blades have been degrading faster than anticipated. It’s the type of problem that’s becoming common in the industry as the demands placed on engines become ever greater.
    The expense of dealing with these things is rising too. Last week, Rolls-Royce quantified the cost of fixing various Trent 1000 issues at 2.4 billion pounds ($3.1 billion), a cash outflow the debt-laden manufacturer can ill afford.
    Few inventions have done more to transform our life over the past century than jet engines. They’ve let people travel faster and further, and they’re remarkably safe. Passenger fatalities like the one caused by a turbine failure on a Southwest Airlines flight last year are rare. Developed at enormous expense and using innovative new materials, the most recent “powerplants” (to use engines’ industry name) are comparatively quiet and fuel efficient.
    Yet these innovations have taken the technology closer to its technical limits and reliability issues have crept in. “By pushing the envelope on thrust and efficiency, things have started to go wrong elsewhere in the system,” says Nick Cunningham at Agency Partners. This is worrying because companies are under pressure to build even more efficient propulsion systems to curb carbon emissions.
    Rolls-Royce’s problems appear the most serious — some 40 787s powered by its engines are parked — but this is an industry-wide issue. Forced to ground planes and adjust flight schedules, airlines have resorted to leasing replacement aircraft and have told engine manufacturers to pay compensation.

    There is so much one can do or improve…but there is always MORE….

  8. Lannan says:

    Hi Gail, longtime reader, first time commenter – I ran into an issue trying to respond to a comment you made somewhere in here, but I kept getting a mystery error. Not sure why.

    Anyways, this is what I wrote in response to something you said about millennials not listening to health authorities:

    As a member of the generation in question, we listen to health authorities quite often – it’s the health authorities don’t often listen to us. With skyrocketing rates of mental illness and chronic conditions among my generation, many doctors just don’t know what to do with us. I myself gave up seeing a GP for all but my most serious complaints because all she wanted to do was prescribe pills. I was tired all the time? Here’s a scrip for not one, but two separate antidepressants. I later found out that I had a cluster of symptoms commonly known as “adrenal fatigue”, which medical professionals seem to refuse to want to investigate. I had IBS and was sent to a gastro – all he did was give me a scrip for industrial strength Immodium to rush me out of the room after 5 minutes rather than sit me down and have a conversation about the way my body was processing different kinds of foods. I was left to experiment on my own with my diet for years.

    Millennials are also always on the move. We have to be, because we follow jobs and cheap rent all around the country. I myself have moved 15+ times in my life, all by necessity. I moved 3 times in 5 years when I was going to school in NYC because rent kept shooting up, even in the crummiest, leakiest, coldest apartments in the most dangerous neighborhoods. But because of this hypermobility, we are unable to form relationships with doctors and have to rely on ourselves to keep track of our medical history. In other countries, like here in Canada, there is even a shortage of family doctors because the health system rewards medical professionals who seek specialization at large hospitals, and makes it very difficult for family doctors with their own practice to make any money. In the US, a third of millennials do not have a family doctor, and I would expect the same to be said of Canadian millennials as well, if not more. Most of us have to resort to walk-in clinics with long wait times and mechanically impersonal and very limited care, or go to UC.

    Our pace and quality of life is creating subtle and slow-killing health problems for us at an unprecedented rate. The medical establishment is not well-equipped to handle this epidemic, and we know this. We have to fight with our doctors at every step of the way just to work on a diagnosis. Most doctors seem to think that chronic conditions, auto-immune diseases, and mental illness are still somehow outside of the norm, and piecing together the highly complex interplay of nebulous symptoms takes time, money, and expertise. Why bother doing any of that when you can just throw pills at us?

    https://healthinformatics.uic.edu/blog/5-ways-millennials-view-healthcare-differently/
    https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/evj98k/millennials-will-get-sick-and-die-faster-than-the-previous-generation
    https://genesight.com/do-doctors-take-mental-health-as-seriously-as-physical-health/

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      I think, too, that young people have too many worries to want to think about exercising and eating healthy food. They think that is something for older people. They don’t have time or money for it. So they look for pills to tix their problems.

    • Kim says:

      Many modern diseases are infammation-related and can arise from eating the industrialized garbage that has been in our troughs this last 70 or so years. I suffered for decades with auto-immune’inflammatory diseases but over a few years eliminated 90% of my problems, including many of the symptoms of spinal arthritis.

      Here are my basics:

      1. Eat properly and develop proper digestion – make sure you have adequate stomach acid and enzyme production. If you have digestive trouble, which many people do and often is associated with inflammation, you can help to restore stomach acid to proper levels by taking Betaine HCl (an over-the-counter product) for a few months unntil levels are normalized. The body recycles HCl, so you don’t have to use this for more than a few months.
      2. Be aware that people are often told they have too much stomach acid when in fact they have too little.
      3. For your protease (enzyme) levels, take a few papaya seeds with your protein. Use either dried seeds or fresh seeds. Both are great. No need to buy papaya powder. Just eat a couple of seeds. It is better than anything you can buy. Dry some. They keep in a jar for ages.
      4. No grains or pulses or nuts
      5. Chew conscientiously. Don’t rush your chewing or swallow lumps. Chewing increases the surface area of the food so that enzymes can act on it, exposes the carbs to enzymes in the mouth and also stimulates the release of enzymes in the stomach
      6. No modern factory oils, they are evil – only palm oil, coconut oil, olive oil and fish oil or animals fats/dripping
      7. Eat steamed vegetables with most meals,cruciferous veges being the best
      8. Eat sauerkraut to restore/support healthy intestinal bacteria
      9. Grate fresh turmeric into your food – it really is effective against inflamation. It should be added to warm food with oil or fat to release the active ingredient.
      10. No (modern) dairy
      11. Nothing that comes in a can, jar or packet
      12. Broths are easy on the body and give the system a rest
      13. Supplement with L-glutamine to repair intestinal damage – 20 grams twice a day

      • Kim says:

        I should also add that intermittent fastng is very helpful as away to get insulin issues under control. For example, as a habit, eat your last meal in the evening at least two hours before bedtime – say at 6 pm – and do not eat again for 16 hours, until say 10 am or noon the next day. This will completely reset your insulin levels and restore proper hunger signaling. Excessive body and internal fat will melt away.

  9. A spat or 96 again in Israel?

  10. “Hong Kong’s rule of law has been pushed to the “brink of total collapse” after more than five months of protests, police have warned.”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-50384360

  11. Get HaPpY says:

    HA HAHAHAHA…..too funny….oh, how they suffer…. pleaaasssseeee

    (Hanoi) Jane Fonda Swears Off Shopping By Announcing Her Last Clothing Purchase
    The actor said her move was inspired by environmental activist Greta Thunberg.

    https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5dc99ae6e4b0fcfb7f6aa0ca/amp

    EXCUSE ME…you are 82 friggin years OLD Lady! How much shopping days are left in you?????
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zANvYB93u2g

    “So, you see this coat?” Fonda said to the crowd gathered around her on Capitol Hill, grabbing her jacket by the lapels. “I needed something red and I went out and found this coat on sale. This is the last article of clothing that I will ever buy.

    Sure it is Jane…if you need anything a “fiend” will go out to the store and buy it for you!

  12. Get HaPpY says:

    Just what is Gloomy Doomie like to read…EnjOy!
    The team gathered archaeological and fossil records from artifacts that are hundreds of thousands years old – many of which came from Morocco and Ethiopia – in a second part of the study
    They showed that humanity could go through a soft landing, a gradual die-off, or full blown collapse.
    Experts said a die-off, in which as much as seven in ten of a planet’s inhabitants were wiped out before stabilizing, was by far the most common outcome.
    A soft landing was the most positive outcome, and occurred when a civilization adapted to its changing planet without a mass extinction.
    During a full blown collapse, the planet was too sensitive to recover from damage caused by its inhabitants, leading to a rapid annihilation of all intelligent life.
    Even when planets switched to renewable fuels to save themselves from extinction, the damage done was sometimes still enough to wipe out the inhabitants, according to the models.
    Scientists said the simulations reveal ‘a radical truth about the challenge we face as we push the Earth into its human-dominated
    Using statistical models they mapped out possible histories of alien worlds, the civilizations they grew, and the climate change that followed.

    They called these societies ‘Exo-civilizations’ and say that learning from their mistakes could help us prepare for the effects of climate change.
    Unfortunately, of the three fates observed, none were positive.
    The most common outcome observed by the team was known as the die-off.
    As the civilization on the simulated planets used energy, its population exploded, but its use of resources pushed the planet away from the conditions the society had become accustomed to
    As the population continued to expand the planet became uninhabitable, forcing a devastating drop in the number of civilians until a sustainable planetary civilization was achieved once more.
    In many of the models, researchers observed that as much as 70 percent of the population perished before a steady state was reached again.
    The second outcome viewed by the team was the soft landing – the most positive outcome of the three observed.
    This time, the growing population and the planet maintained a smooth transition to a new, balanced equilibrium, partly through low-impact resources.
    Although the localisation changed the planet, it did so without triggering a mass extinction, like those observed in the first outcome.
    Outcome number three was a full-blown collapse, which also started with a skyrocketing population.
    However, these worlds were too sensitive to change and were unable to cope with a rapidly expanding, resource-hungry civilization
    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-7673963/amp/Humans-1-14-000-chances-going-extinct-year-getting-struck-lightning.html

    The Daily Mail has such nice tabloid news….

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wqYNXUWqDxg

    Well. At least our odds are better. Thank you Mister Spock!

  13. Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to “tell it like it is.” On the basis of this obligation and the graphical indicators presented below, we declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.
    https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biosci/biz088/5610806
    Conclusions

    Mitigating and adapting to climate change while honoring the diversity of humans entails major transformations in the ways our global society functions and interacts with natural ecosystems. We are encouraged by a recent surge of concern. Governmental bodies are making climate emergency declarations. Schoolchildren are striking. Ecocide lawsuits are proceeding in the courts. Grassroots citizen movements are demanding change, and many countries, states and provinces, cities, and businesses are responding.

    As the Alliance of World Scientists, we stand ready to assist decision-makers in a just transition to a sustainable and equitable future. We urge widespread use of vital signs, which will better allow policymakers, the private sector, and the public to understand the magnitude of this crisis, track progress, and realign priorities for alleviating climate change. The good news is that such transformative change, with social and economic justice for all, promises far greater human well-being than does business as usual. We believe that the prospects will be greatest if decision-makers and all of humanity promptly respond to this warning and declaration of a climate emergency and act to sustain life on planet Earth, our only home.

    • Robert Firth says:

      The “Alliance of World Scientists” sounds rather familiar. Perhaps their motto should be “There is no absolute limit to either knowledge or power”.

      Their power, one presumes, once they can get the governments of the world to do their bidding. Creating the utopia described in detail by H G Wells in “The World Set Free”, published in 1914. You really, really do not want to go there. Of all tyrannies, a scientific tyranny, using all the resources of Nature to enforce absolute control, is surely the worst. As was shown us in 1927, by Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis”.

      • but by the standards of our gggrandfathers, we would be judged to be already there.
        Most diseases curable–even death itself can be held off if not entirely overcome

        where only the nobiilty had ‘horsepower’, it is now available to billions of us, as is the instant lighting of universal darkness. We don’t have to kill something to take its skin to keep us warm.
        I could go on

        by their standards we live the life of gods, and we see ourselves as having done it by human ingeniuty.

        True—up to a point.

        But it all falls back on our fossil fuels prop, which even at this late hour isn’t recognised by the majority as our sole means of support

        • Robert Firth says:

          Thank you for another H G Wells reference: “Men Like Gods”, from 1923. I found his political novels very, very boring; but in retrospect they were alarmingly prescient.

    • Robert Firth says:

      “… with social and economic justice for all …”

      I missed that gem on the first reading. Cicero, in his De natura deorum, defines justice as “giving each his due” (“iustitia suum cuique distribuit”). In other words, you can have justice, or you can have “social justice”; choose one.

      And remember, when a man talks about the good of humanity, he is getting ready to commit a crime.

    • Here is a little info into who the “scientists” actually are.

      • Tim Groves – Japan
        Tim Groves says:

        The same organization sent out an almost identical climate declaration in 2017 and that was signed by 15,000 “scientists”, so if numbers add up to anything, obviously the crisis is less now than it was then.

        Furthermore,

        There was something goofy about the petition signed by 11,258 “world scientists” from 153 countries declaring a “climate emergency.”
        One “scientist” was named “Mouse, Micky” from the “Micky Mouse Institute for the Blind, Nambia.” Another was Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts. And then there was “Araminta Aardvark” from the fictional University of Neasden.
        Among the “Alliance of World Scientists” members who were apparently real people, many identified themselves as teachers, students, administrators, statisticians, economists, technicians, therapists, doctors, psychologists — not climate scientists.
        As it turns out, however, being recognized as a “world scientist” may be easier than you think.
        The alliance is a project of the Oregon State University College of Forestry, which invited “all scientists” to add their names to the four-page statement, “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency,” by clicking on a green “sign the article” button on the college’s website.
        Following a round of fact-checking in the press and on social media, the college removed 34 names, including “Micky,” “Araminta” and “Dumbledore,” bringing the total to 11,224 signatories on the Nov. 5 article published in the journal BioScience, part of the Oxford University Press.
        “During our original signature screening process, we attempted to remove all signatures that appeared to be invalid,” said a post on the OSU website. “Although, a few invalid ones were missed. We are thoroughly reviewing the full list at the moment and will make further updates if required.”
        That said, the less-than-scientific signature-gathering process and ensuing media mockery did no favors for the climate-crisis movement, nor the major media outlets that trumpeted the story.

        https://www.climatedepot.com/2019/11/12/climate-emergency-declaration-takes-heat-for-fictional-world-scientists/

        • Get HaPpY says:

          Calm down, Please. It’s like not the other side of the issue did not do it first!
          https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/30000-scientists-reject-climate-change/

          Did 30,000 Scientists Declare Climate Change a Hoax?
          More than 30,000 people may have signed a petition challenging the veracity of anthropogenic global warming, but one doesn’t have to be a climate scientist, or even a practicing scientist, to sign that document.
          ALEX KASPRAK
          PUBLISHED 24 OCTOBER 2016
          What’s True
          A petition that has been in circulation since 1998 claims to bear the name of more than 30,000 signatures from scientists who reject the concept of anthropogenic global warming.

          What’s False
          The petition was created by individuals and groups with political motivations, was distributed using misleading tactics, is presented with almost no accountability regarding the authenticity of its signatures, and asks only that you have received an undergraduate degree in any science to sign

          So, what are the facts? I don’t know if this latest was just a setup to smear the consensus.

  14. Your post on the Green New Deal does not take account of the transmission grid. On a continental scale the wind never stops blowing. A suitably designed grid serving a well chosen network of wind farms should never run short of energy. In addition, there are storage technologies, such as sodium-sulfur batteries which can solve any remaining intermittancy issues.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      The problem is that a nationwide grid that would carry enough electricity for this purpose would be vastly more more expensive than today. It also would have to be maintained properly, or it would start fires everywhere. Hawaii would still be a problem. Even with this large a grid, storage is likely to be a big problem. We have seasonal storage needs that more transmission can’t help. Heating in winter using solar from summer doesn’t work.

    • DJ says:

      Unfortunately wind stops blowing for a week or three over whole continents.

      • TrevorC says:

        “Unfortunately wind stops blowing for a week or three over whole continents”. True.
        And taking Europe for example, even if there were areas where the wind continued to blow that area would need to have enough installed capacity to power the whole of the rest of Europe as well (10 times, 20 times?). So, for example, UK would need to have enough installed wind and solar to power the whole of Europe. For maybe a couple of weeks a year! The rest of the year it would not be needed.
        As would Iberia, as would Germany, as would Poland, as would etc etc. So each country in Europe would need to install 10 to 20 times more capacity than needed for that country alone. Plus the cost of the grid. Plus the costs of smoothing the erratic flow of electricity. It soon gets to be to be quite expensive.
        Of course Europe could rely on huge solar farms in stable and reliable areas such as North Africa and the Middle East.

  15. “…what’s particularly worrying about this economic slowdown is that the recovery from the global financial crisis is not finished…

    “If there was a debt crisis, that would likely tip an economy into recession. As economic growth slows, it could become harder for firms and households to repay the debt that they borrowed. It’s not dissimilar for governments. As income growth slows, debt become less manageable. That could affect banks as the monies that they lent may not be repaid which weakens their balance sheet. So, a slowdown that triggers a debt crisis could then become a recession or worse.”

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/lbsbusinessstrategyreview/2019/11/11/global-slowdown-worries/#40d353e74a25

  16. Pingback: Energy And Environmental Newsletter – November 11th 2019 | PA Pundits - International

  17. David Wojick – I do strategic consulting where science, technology and policy meet. My strategic insights grow from original research on complex issues and technological revolutions. I also do applied research on scientific communication.
    David Wojick says:

    EIA reports the average cost for utility scale battery systems to be about $1500 per kWh. At that rate the batteries needed for backing up a solar or wind facility for three days cost around 30 times as much as the RE facility. But wind is often unpowered for more like seven days, during huge stagnant high pressure episodes. Thus the backup battery cost is more like 100 times the wind farm cost. Batteries are not feasible.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Yikes!

    • hkeithhenson
      hkeithhenson says:

      “Batteries are not feasible”

      I generally agree with you, but even a small amount of storage helps. LAWP is contracting to buy power (somewhat subsidized) for 3.3 cents/kWh. This includes enough storage to keep the output going for 4 hours after the sun goes down.

      https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2019-08-27/los-angeles-solar-energy-storage-cheap

      Increasing the storage from 200 MW to 300 MW is an option that raises the cost from 3.3 cents to 3.96 cents/kWh. I could back-calculate how much the storage costs, but I am not certain I would get it right. The other project you might look at is StratoSolar. They have the PV floating at 20 km, way above any clouds. So the sun comes up on the platform without fail. I.e., clouds will not block the sunlight for days on end.

      StratoSolar has talked about lifting weights up to the platform as a way to store excess power. Lowering the weights gets the power back.

    • nlowrie
      Neil says:

      For solar it’s worth considering the cost at a household scale. Typical (small) household usage may only peak at 1kw or so, and solar can work in even low light conditions. Overnight, running a refrigerator may only need 1kWhr of storage for example? What is the all in cost of a PV + storage for a typical household, compared to cost of electricity and/or other fuel over 25 years?

      • TrevorC says:

        I have solar panels here in UK. It is now government policy to force users away from gas to electric heating. My current energy bill for the year is about two thirds for (winter) gas heating and one third for electricity. If I moved from gas to electric heating, my energy bill would rocket. My panels produce lots of electricity on summer days – when I do not need it, and almost nothing in the winter – when I would need it. The benefit to me is that I am paid about four times as much for the electricity I produce to the grid as I pay for electricity that I use. Another one of those government subsidy election promises.
        Adding batteries would simply reduce the electricity I sell to the grid and I would lose money.
        Even if I was not receiving the subsidized payment rate, batteries would only give me electricity on summer evenings, when I use little energy and I would never even cover the installation costs.

  18. Get HaPpY says:

    Is OuR SyStEm sCReWed Up oR Not?
    Airlines are flying tons of unneeded fuel around the world to save as little as $52 by not filling up in countries with higher prices
    Sinéad Baker
    https://news.yahoo.com/airlines-flying-tons-unneeded-fuel-110009388.html
    NEWS

    WWII veterans place wreaths at memorial in Washington, D.C.
    Airlines are flying tons of unneeded fuel around the world to save as little as $52 by not filling up in countries with higher prices
    Sinéad Baker
    Business InsiderNovember 11, 2019, 6:00 AM EST
    british airways
    british airways
    Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

    Airlines are carrying tons of extra fuel on flights, a practice that lets them avoid paying for fuel in countries where it’s more expensive — at the cost of the environment.

    The practice was revealed by the BBC’s “Panorama” show, which received leaked documents showing the practice at British Airways. It is believed to be widespread in the industry.

    It is bad for the environment because carrying unneeded fuel makes a plane heavier and therefore causes it to emit more carbon products.

    Documents showed that British Airways planes were carrying tons of extra fuel for the sake of small savings — sometimes barely $50 on a whole plane’s worth of fuel.

    The BBC estimates that the practice produced 18,000 metric tons of unnecessary carbon dioxide in 2018.

    British Airways said in response that it would consider changing its process.

    Sure…Don’t call me, I’ll call you….
    Where’s Greta?
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xVlRompc1yE

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      Greta sure seems to get response from our right wing friends.
      I wonder why (snark)?

      • Hubbs says:

        Interesting how the airlines will calculate the fuel requirements for each flight and fill the tanks to that required amount plus the FAA required 45 minute IFR (instrument flight rule) reserve. So apparently the airlines calculate the extra cost of flying with unused fuel.

    • Robert Firth says:

      Extra fuel makes the aeroplane heavier, which causes it to burn more fuel. I doubt the $50 saved makes up for the cost of that extra fuel burned.

      The practice sound to me like the harebrained idea of a bean counter bureaucrat who knows nothing of the physics of heavier than air flight.

    • Actually she is right. Ecosystems are dying. Infinite growth is impossible. Its just her anger that is misplaced. Anger is just fear. Maybe they will get out guillotines and burn it all down. Then they will be in charge surrounded by ashes and baskets of heads. Who gets the anger then because the fear will still be there?

      • 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.
        Gail Tverberg says:

        You are right. The anger is misplaced. This is simply the way the system is designed to work. Economies grow and collapse, just as humans get old and die. We had the good fortune to have the most goods and services of any people ever. But that privilege goes with seeing in collapse.

        • Mike Roberts
          Mike Roberts says:

          I don’t know that it’s misplaced. From her point of view, us old, privileged folk have had it so good that we didn’t think of the future we were leaving for coming generations. Now it’s clear what we’re doing but we’re still doing it it. I’m not surprised she’s angry; eventually all her generation will be angry at what we did and how we ignored our scientists.

          • yes, her grandparents and especially her parents “had it so good” because of FF…

            but does she really understand that her position of reducing carbon emissions to net zero has the consequence of reducing economic activity by at least 90%?

            I doubt that she has a full understanding of those consequences…

  19. Great news, everyone – by 2050 Qantas will have entirely replaced its current fleet with pedal-powered mega-gliders fashioned by hand from wood and river clay.

    “Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce says the long-term goal of being completely net carbon neutral by 2050 is “ambitious, but achievable”.”

    https://www.businesstraveller.com/business-travel/2019/11/11/qantas-says-it-will-cut-carbon-emissions-to-zero-by-2050/

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Why does the earth keep getting more deforested with all of the carbon credits purchased?

      • Xabier says:

        Because the Carbon Credit Economy bears -like everything else – no relation to the physical economy?

        Ah, what’s this? !

        A Time Portal!

        I think I’ll step through it and come out somewhere rather more real than this implausible show we are trapped in …….

      • TrevorC says:

        They cut down trees to make pellets for ‘green’ power stations and use the carbon credits to plant seedlings. In 100 years time the carbon produced by burning the pellets and flying the aircraft will back back in the trees – or maybe not. But then its too late anyway.

    • Tim Groves – Japan
      Tim Groves says:

      No doubt they will be investing in huge elastic bands, the whole idea being a complete wind-up.

  20. worldofhanumanotg
    worldofhanumanotg says:

    Anybody researching in detail into Dem primaries yet?
    Some pundits observe it roughly resembles that Rep primaries mess of previous cycle, which trashed the old alliances. To me it looks like a snake pit of double, triple agents war-faring for various factions behind the curtain.

    For example, the Gabbard girl (mil-isolationist-conservative), neutralized the Clintonoid horse Kamala in just few minutes like in Asian action movie. Gabbard also for some strange reason now (nobody interested anymore) talks about Saudi involvement in 9/11 – at the same time their Aramco IPO attempt is also debated. Weird.

    Biden is a joke placeholder candidate of zero appeal, self destructing himself.

    Late/new entry Bloomberg’s mission is to deny Sanders NY votes and also trim down Warren.

    Warren is a former Republican, lite corporatist and war wing conformist of the Dem party.

    Sanders is perhaps a genuine social reformer but with dubious foreign policy.

    Yang seems as genuine reformist, but his UBI proposals seems as B-plan for the bankers when they had to front run raging socialists.

    = when there are way more than two-three factions fighting over it usually means the system is very wobbly near collapse or significant reshuffle approaching, that’s why my interest in it..

    • Robert Firth says:

      My thoughts on almost the whole lot of them:

      “Here richly, with ridiculous display,
      The Politician’s corpse was laid away.
      While all of his acquaintance sneered and slanged
      I wept: for I had longed to see him hanged.”

      (Hilaire Belloc)

      Except for Tulsi Gabbard, who I think would be
      the ideal running mate for Trump 2020. One who
      tells the truth as he sees it; the other who tells
      the truth as it is.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      This is a standard apples to oranges comparison.

  21. nlowrie
    Neil says:

    Even Trump Can’t Keep Coal Companies From Declaring Bankruptcy

    Coal companies are reporting disappointing financial results and filing for bankruptcy. It is an extremely tough financial environment as the price of coal has fallen 38% from its recent high in October 2018 and is back down to 2016 prices.
    https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/even-trump-cant-keep-coal-companies-from-declaring-bankruptcy/

    • Yoshua says:

      The coal price is down from USD 75 to USD 45

      I don’t think anyone in the world can produce coal at USD 45

      https://markets.businessinsider.com/commodities/coal-price

      • 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.
        Gail Tverberg says:

        Wow!

  22. “India’s electricity demand declined for the third straight month, another indication of an economic slowdown that seems to be deepening. Electricity demand from distribution utilities declined 13.2 per cent in October from a year earlier, data from the Central Electricity Authority showed.”

    https://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/another-sign-of-economic-slowdown-india-s-power-need-shrinks-for-3rd-month-119110901429_1.html

  23. “A decade after the global financial crisis, with the world’s leading economies still addicted to the near-zero interest rates of the emergency response of quantitative easing, it seems the global economy remains on life support, with our experts still flummoxed about how to restore economic health.

    “…the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the World Trade Organisation, are predicting worse to come.Trade across the world is stalling. Most leading economies are reporting near-zero economic growth. Investment is in decline. Most expert organisations, including the International Monetary Fund…

    “After using so much of our monetary ammunition to fight off a recession in 2009 but still not putting risks to rest, there are worrying questions about where the resources can be found to fight off a new recession…

    “If we are on the brink of a new recession, and even China is not on hand to provide fiscal stimulus, then how dangerously ill-equipped are we?”

    https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3037081/world-economy-headed-recession-china-wont-be-there-save-it-time

  24. Pingback: Energy & Environmental Newsletter: November 11, 2019 - Master Resource

  25. cannuck210
    cannuck210 says:

    Good Afternoon

    I have followed your blog for some considerable time. I have greatly enjoyed your research and have welcomed at being ‘educated’ on some of the maths behind much of the energy issues facing society today.

    Please may I make a request? If you have the time and if you would consider it appropriate, please would you consider writing a blog on Nuclear Energy – perhaps as an option to fossil fuels? As an actuary, you have an exceptions grasp of the numbers behind key questions as well as knowledge of where to find answers (if any exist).

    Sincerely

    • Tim Groves – Japan
      Tim Groves says:

      I think this is an excellent suggestion.

      In keeping with my generally optimistic mindset, I hang onto the hope that when things get really tough, nuclear power will be one of the X factors that will ride to the rescue.

      If this notion is a delusional fantasy on a level with expecting wind turbines to save us, I’d really like to know.

  26. Yoshua says:

    Here in Hippie Town our electricity production comes from 100% renewable resources. Our power plant burns wood to produce electricity.

    When burning wood there’s no intermittency problems, but the power plant is still a money losing operation. The cost of burning wood is much higher than burning coal and natural gas to produce electricity.

    One problem is that trees contain 35%-50% water. So we are cutting down and transporting a lot of water.

    • Robert Firth says:

      We solved that problem centuries ago. Cut down the trees, cut them up into logs; recycle the bark, twigs and leaves, and leave the logs under cover for a couple of years. The water will dry out, and you will have burnable fuel.

      • doomphd – Honolulu – I really hold a doctor of philosophy (phd) in geological sciences and study pretty doomy topics like giant landslides, volcanic eruptions and megatsunamis.
        doomphd says:

        of course, the predicament with a quasi-sustainable wood-fired energy base is we passed the maximum population level it can support a few centuries ago. we can’t go back until the population drops drastically. at some point, if the numbers drop low enough, we’re facing species extinction. certainly, a lot of us FF-fueled “softies” will expire.

      • Yoshua says:

        Letting the wood dry will reduce the water content in the wood to 20% in a dry climate. In a wet climate the water content in the wood can rise to 70%.

        So we are dependent on sun and wind after all.

  27. “Financial stress is mounting in the [US] Farm Belt, pushing more growers to take on high-interest loans outside traditional banks to stay in business…

    “With crop prices stuck at low levels, traditional farm banks are placing stricter terms on farm loans and doling out less money, leaving cash-strapped farmers… to seek capital from more lightly regulated entities.”

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.wsj.com/amp/articles/farmers-in-crisis-turn-to-high-interest-loans-as-banks-pull-back-11573381801

  28. Hubbs says:

    Speaking of cattle wearing down their teeth from grazing silicates:

    • Xabier says:

      Most amusing: our very own giant, hi-tech, Easter Island statues!

      And hugely polluting and environmentally-destructive, too.

      Another magnificent home-goal by Mankind.

      • JesseJames says:

        Note the shedding of dangerous fiberglass glass fibers…due to grit, ice and wind. Imagine that you leased your land for “clean, renewable” wind generators, only to have your land contaminated forever with the glass fibers. Your kids can never again walk or play on the land. It can never again be used for livestock. It is contaminated forever.

  29. “The fastest increase in assets for any two-month period since the post-Lehman freak show in late 2008 and early 2009.”

    https://wolfstreet.com/2019/11/07/fed-goes-nuts-with-repos-t-bills-but-sheds-mortgage-backed-securities/

    why would the Fed be returning to their actions of the 2008/2009 era?

    though they are saying it’s not QE…

  30. “One of the historic indicators signaling the end of a business cycle (and an impending recession) is US corporate margin squeeze.”

    https://confoundedinterest.net/2019/11/07/the-big-squeeze-the-corporate-margin-squeeze-and-fed-policy/

    recession ahead…

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Hard to make new investments when profits are down!

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      By the way, I am flying to Honolulu tomorrow. I will be speaking at an actuarial conference. I may be less available online.

      • doomphd – Honolulu – I really hold a doctor of philosophy (phd) in geological sciences and study pretty doomy topics like giant landslides, volcanic eruptions and megatsunamis.
        doomphd says:

        Gail, if you’re free for lunch, i invite you to the UH Manoa campus in Honolulu and you can meet Dr. DeLuze and myself (lunch is on us). he works with me in the lab part time.

        • 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.
          Gail Tverberg says:

          Thanks! Send me an email at GailTverberg at comcast dot net. Monday might work.

  31. hkeithhenson
    hkeithhenson says:

    Current news stories indicate that Arizona Public Service is considering using seasonal excess power at Palo Verde to make hydrogen, something I have talked about for almost ten years. Looking at the Wikipedia site, power has been sold for as little as 1.33 cents per kWh. At that price for power, synthetic oil would cost around $50/bbl.

    I don’t know what they figure the power is worth when they don’t have a market for it. I did make email contact with the guy named in the news stories. Will ask.

    • Generating hydrogen from a nuclear power plant. Great Idea. This is progress! All hail this new technology! Can the hydrogen be stored in the spent fuel pools?

      • hkeithhenson
        hkeithhenson says:

        :hydrogen from a nuclear power plant:”

        If I remember correctly, King said this was the way to go as we ran out of oil.

        ” fuel cost = 0.39 ¢/kWh.” If that is the marginal cost, then liquid transport fuels should cost around $24/bbl. Or about 50 cents per gallon.

      • hkeithhenson
        hkeithhenson says:

        “fuel pools”

        Hydrogen is really hard to store. I would not try, take the loss and use F/T to convert it to hydrocarbons. We know how to deal with them.

        • Some quantity of hydrogen has to be stored since you are creating immense volumes of it in your fantasy Defining your synthetic oil process around immediate consumption of your hydrogen process would destroy any other process parameters for both processes.

          • hkeithhenson
            hkeithhenson says:

            “immediate consumption ”

            You are right. What I should have said about the hydrogen is that it’s hard to move it. We have to store a couple of days of hydrogen to keep the F/T part running overnight. 34,000 bbl per day is 4638 tons of fuel per day. The fuel is 2 parts in 14 hydrogen or about 663 tons. An empty gas field would come in handy. There is also a need for 4860 tons of overnight CO2 storage.

            Although you would not try it with a standard Sasol F/T system, there are catalytic converters that are smaller and fast. They don’t make wax though.

      • hkeithhenson
        hkeithhenson says:

        “hydrogen from a nuclear power plant”

        It’s actually PV that is causing the problems. They have to either shut down some of the reactors, which they don’t like to do or shut off some of the PV, which also has problems. The fuel cost for those reactors is very low.

        • Nuclear reactors are exponential energy sinks if the energy required to store the waste is accounted for. There is no nuclear waste storage in the USA for power reactors so it piles up in the pools. Its beyond ridiculous. To propose that using some of the output of this energy sink to produce dangerous hydrogen gas that has no storage facility is somehow a energy source is also ridiculous. Providing water for this in AZ is even more waste of precious resources.

          • hkeithhenson
            hkeithhenson says:

            “energy sinks”

            That’s interesting. Why should storing nuclear waste use energy?

            • DJ says:

              Isnt one usual method putting it in metall containers and digging it deep down in rock?

              I have no opinion whether this takes a lot of energy but it must take energy.

            • 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.
              Gail Tverberg says:

              It takes lots of energy to build the site. Later, when things go wrong, it takes more energy to try to fix those things.

            • hkeithhenson
              hkeithhenson says:

              “lots of energy to build the site”

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca_Mountain_nuclear_waste_repository had political problems, but I don’t think it used much energy to build and little to none when operating.

            • 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.
              Gail Tverberg says:

              There is a nuclear energy waste pilot plant in New Mexico that has been around a long time, I believe. In fact, I remember hearing about problems at one such site.

              Right now, we have a lot of spent fuel in cooling ponds. These need to be kept cool with electricity stirring the water. There needs to be water added if the existing water boils off. If nothing else, there needs to be a continuation of what is currently done and transport to a central location.

            • Jarle says:

              “Why should storing nuclear waste use energy?”

              The storing just happens like magic you mean?

    • I remember
      i remember
      I remember Fast Eddy offering to pay airfare to Japan for the poster that wrote it was safe to swim in the ocean next to fukushima. Yeaaah baby!

      • Robert Firth says:

        I suspect the unnamed person was right. Low ambient doses of radiation, for instance from cosmic rays (at higher altitude) or igneous rock have long been associated with better health. The phenomenon is called “hormesis”.

        Of course, if you swim with your girlfriend (or boyfriend) the radiation emitted by their human body may push you into the danger zone.

        • Tim Groves – Japan
          Tim Groves says:

          It’s never safe to swim in the ocean. You might meet up with a shark or a jellyfish that mistakes you for a snack, or you might get caught by a ships propellor or even by the Under-toad!

          Fukushima is recovering. There have been no deaths directly resulting from the nuclear disaster. It’s estimated that 2,000 people died prematurely due to the effects being forced to evacuate, most of them unnecessarily, and that up to 4,000 people may have died prematurely due to the 20% increase in electricity prices when Japan shut down all its nuclear plants for several years following the disaster. All of these people are victims of nucleaphobia—the irrational fear of safe, clean and reliable nuclear energy being promoted and fostered on the rest of us by the deranged misanthropic denizens of the Green Lobby.

          https://youtu.be/_jVm0N2dnhI

        • Tim Groves – Japan
          Tim Groves says:

          “The panicked closure of nuclear power in Japan pushed electricity prices up. The UN agrees that no people died from radiation in the Fukushima event, but the frenzied over-evacuation killed up to 2,000 people. After that, higher electricity prices led to at least 1280 extra deaths in the 21 largest cities. That translates into 4,500 deaths if the mortality rate was similar across the rest of the country.”

          http://joannenova.com.au/2019/11/japan-the-precautionary-principle-killed-more-people-than-the-fukushima-nuclear-disaster/

        • Tim Groves – Japan
          Tim Groves says:

          Also, a person would be exposed to more radiation flying across the Pacific than they would swimming in the ocean offshore of the Fukushima complex. I expect that’s one more reason why young Greta is so reluctant to fly.

          https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EB8ihGkWwAEKH2c.jpg

          • Yorchichan says:

            My stepfather’s daughter died aged 14 from cancer six months after swimming in the sea near Sellafield. I don’t remember all the details, but the authorities got involved and it was revealed there had been a radiation leak. I doubt my stepfather would agree with you on the lack of risk from swimming in the sea near Fukushima.

  32. Yoshua says:

    The old testament is conservative.
    The new testament is liberal.

    Conservatism and Liberalism is in our genes.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      More energy per capita in the later period. Allow more optimistic liberal views.

    • beidawei
      beidawei says:

      Isaiah: help the poor
      Paul: no gay stuff

  33. “No wind? No sun? This power plant solves renewable energy’s biggest problem”
    https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/07/business/statkraft-virtual-power-plant/index.html

    Really? Have they got an AC power grid that gets even nearly half its energy from IRE (intermittent renewable energy — wind, solar, etc.)?
    Well, not quite YET, I guess …

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      The critical part is the storage. Also, don’t use much solar, especially as far north as Norway. The storage needs would be unbelievable.

      Whether this arrangement can really be economic is another question.

      • Storage is a huge issue not only from a demand perspective. Its easy to say we will only use the power when the sun shines unfortunately the devices that use that energy can not magically use whatever voltages and currents the PVs happen to be producing any more than a 60 hz motor can run on 50 hz. Batteries baseline the output of PV panels somewhat allowing a still variable but ranged energy source. There you are in the middle of your industrial process and the sun goes behind a cloud. Kaboom. Adding the complexity of a electrical energy source that is not stable to all of the other unknown complexities… I strongly doubt any industrial process could be developed that uses PV panels without energy storage to somewhat stabilize the electrical energy enough for use. Yes that IMO goes for either the dc output regulated or ac inverted. The batteries required might be much less if used only to buffer the PV output not store energy for use when sun is down however. Maybe the seven maids with seven mops could buffer the PV output by dancing around the PV arrays when they were not sweeping up from the sandstorms or dancing value into a currency devoid of energy backing!

        • hkeithhenson
          hkeithhenson says:

          “60 hz motor can run on 50 hz.”

          Actually, they run just fine. But a 3600 rpm 60 Hz motor will run slow, about 3000 rpm.

          • So heat and much shorter life from mismatced windings is “just fine”
            The argument could be made that a 50hz motor could be run on 60 hz “just fine” it will be faster but cooler but the power is badly lessened. If voltage to frequency ratio is maintained using a step up or step down transformer then both mismatches will run just fine.

            practically if there is no load than frequency can be used to control speed. add load and get smoke.

            Cite one example of pvs being used to power a industrial process without batteries…

        • hkeithhenson
          hkeithhenson says:

          “PV panels without energy storage”

          If the PV is being fed into an electrolysis cell, then you don’t need storage, or you could make the case that the hydrogen was storing the energy.

          • Sorry keith you didnt understand. Energy storage allows the pv energy to be stable. Perhaps if you actually ran pvs you would understand. Please cite references for unregulated pv power being used for electrolysis and the processes required to manufacture synthetic oil. kaboom

            • hkeithhenson
              hkeithhenson says:

              You don’t need stable PV to run an electrolysis cell. In any case, a PV cell has a lot of internal resistance. You load one up to the point you get max power out. The number of PV cells in series per hydrogen cell might be adjusted to max hydrogen production.

              “to manufacture synthetic oil”

              There are a number of such plants around the world, but I usually cite https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oryx_GTL

        • Robert Firth says:

          Agreed. And thank you for picking up my reference to Lewis Carroll’s “Through the looking glass”. The seven maids come from the song “The Walrus and the Carpenter”.

      • Robert Firth says:

        From the article:

        “It uses a cloud-based artificial intelligence platform …”

        You can stop right there. The answer to a dysfunctional complex system is to add even more complexity. And can “artificial intelligence” really predict that ten million people are going to turn on the coffee maker at half time during the World Cup? A bunch of desperately overengineered computer programs hacked together by IT graduates with no knowledge of physics and very little of the real world? (I know: I saw it happen during 10 years at Carnegie Mellon University)

        Complexity is the enemy of reliability. As always.

    • Jarle says:

      Re https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/07/business/statkraft-virtual-power-plant/index.html

      Sounds very good until you remember that installed capacity would still have to be demand times x, x > 1.

      Don’t mention the grid needed …

  34. hkeithhenson
    hkeithhenson says:

    A proposed way to replace natural oil with renewable oil

    There are two recent news stories that started this line of thinking.

    First is the recent MIT release on a method to inexpensively capture CO2.

    https://news.mit.edu/2019/mit-engineers-develop-new-way-remove-carbon-dioxide-air-1025

    The second is the story about the world’s lowest PV bid.

    https://www.utilities-me.com/news/14081-dewa-receives-worlds-lowest-bid-of-usd-169-cents-per-kwh-for-900mw-5th-phase-of-the-mohammed-bin-rashid-al-maktoum

    One much larger is being planned.

    https://www.utilities-me.com/article-5367-japans-softbank-to-build-worlds-largest-solar-power-plant-in-saudi-arabia

    The first article says the capture method will work in the air.  It takes about one GJ to capture a ton of CO2.  A GJ is 278 kWh.  At 1.69 cents per kWh, it will cost about $4.70 per ton of CO2.  Or $17.23 per ton of carbon.  14 tons of oil has 12 tons of carbon at a cost of $206.  Per bbl, the carbon would cost about $2.00

    Oil is approximately CH2.  Making hydrocarbons is scaled off the 34,000 bbl/day plant Sasol built 12 years ago in Qatar, it would take about 30,000 plants.  10,000 if the plant size was moved up to 100,000 bbl/day, but that may take too large a PV farm.

    CO2 + 3H2  yields CH2 + 2H2O
    44    +   6                 14  + 36

    It may take reverse water gas shift to make the CO2 into CO.  It is also possible that the CO2 might be electrolyzed to CO and O2 at a lower energy cost than making the extra hydrogen.

    https://dioxidematerials.com/technology/co2-electrolysis/

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water-gas_shift_reaction#Reverse_water-gas_shift

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

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

    At 50 MWh/ton, 6 tons of hydrogen would take 300 MWh.  That makes 14 tons of oil or 21 MWh/ton of oil. At 7.33 bbl/ton the energy required for a bbl of oil is about 3 MWh.  For an energy cost of $16.90/MWh, the hydrogen energy cost is very close to $50/bbl.

    Add $2/bbl for carbon, and ~$10/bbl for the capital cost of the F/T plant.  Carbon-neutral synthetic oil (fuel actually) would cost ~$62/bbl, possibly less with more process optimization.  For example, there is no reason for inverters, the PV DC output can directly power the electrolysis cells.  This should reduce the cost of energy in hydrogen below 1.69 cents per kWh.

    The take-home is that in some places PV has gotten so inexpensive that it would be possible to make carbon-neutral synthetic hydrocarbons to replace natural oil for about the same price.

    The area needed for the PV is large, 120% of Saudia Arabia or about 28% of the Sahara Desert.  (check these numbers, 100 million bbls/day/34,000 bbl.day, ~30,000 plants at ~90 square km/plant.)

    34,000 bbl per day is a rate of around 1466 bbl/hr.  At 3 MWh/bbl for the hydrogen, the average input to the hydrogen cells would be 4.25 GW and the peak about 4 times higher.

    Sunlight comes down at a ~GW/km^2.  Between the peak to average and the PV efficiency, a factor of about ~20 needs to need to be applied.  This takes the PV area per plant up to 85-90 square km.

    It could be done over a number of years, but the cost is going to be a problem.  If we built the plants at 3000 a year, that alone would be $3 T.  I am not sure what the capital cost for the PV would be, probably 4-5 times the billion-dollar plant cost.

    I don’t believe this option has been considered in the context of the global effects of CO2.

    After checking the math and finding I had the area off by a factor of then, I am not so sure it is something that could be considered.  The Sasol plant cost a billion dollars.  30,000 would be $3 T a year for ten years. Also, the area needed is so large that much black PV might cause serious weather problems.

    • Jason says:

      Sound similiar to perpetual motion machine. If you miniturize it, hook it up to your exhaust, convert it to gas, pump it into your engine. Viola.

      • hkeithhenson
        hkeithhenson says:

        “perpetual motion”

        No more so than rain. It’s just using carbon as a hydrogen carrier. Take carbon out of the atmosphere and burn it to put it back in. Carbon-neutral synfuel. We know what to do with hydrocarbons.

        I am somewhat appalled at how much of the Sahara desert we would need to cover with PV to power making 100 million bbl per day.

        It shows how poor PV is at collecting energy and the unbelievable scale of humans burning oil. Gail objects to intermittent renewables for the electricity supply. It looks like they are not that much use even for this application where intermittency does not matter.

        • doomphd – Honolulu – I really hold a doctor of philosophy (phd) in geological sciences and study pretty doomy topics like giant landslides, volcanic eruptions and megatsunamis.
          doomphd says:

          one good sand storm and you can forget your vast PV arrays in the desert. you might observe that much of the Sahara is covered in sand dunes. how do you think they form?

          • Robert Firth says:

            Perhaps we could get seven maids with seven mops to sweep for half the year? But how would they get around, where would they live, what would they eat and drink, how would they keep cool? The infrastructure to maintain these arrays would be vastly more expensive that the infrastructure needed to build them, and it would have to be permanent. I do not think this is affordable.

          • hardly anyone seems to want to point out that sandstorms will reduce output on solar panels

            And that water will be needed to constantly wash them

          • 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.
            Gail Tverberg says:

            China with its PVs has essentially the same problem. I was in Beijing when there was a sandstorm. It was hard to see where the sun was in the sky. The sandstorm was actually in the Gobi desert and the sand came that far. I expect that there would be more than a little problem with China’s solar panels getting covered with sand. Other pollutants would tend to form a layer as well.

            • Robert Firth says:

              gail, the problem is not just that the sand covers the arrays. It erodes them. When we lived in Africa a car that got caught in a sandstorm would have its paint sanded down to the bare metal. That’s why when you drove near the Sahara you carried a very rugged tarpaulin to cover the car (with you inside it of course).

            • 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.
              Gail Tverberg says:

              The last I looked, IEA dictated that models of the usefulness of solar panels should assume that they will last 5 years beyond the manufacturer’s warranty period. (I wonder how many manufacturers will be around that long.)

            • hkeithhenson
              hkeithhenson says:

              “will last 5 years beyond”

              I really wish I had access to the process that priced PV power at 1.69 cents/kWh. I can’t make any sense out of back calculating the expected capital cost,

            • 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.
              Gail Tverberg says:

              Maybe it is a “loss leader.”

          • 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.
            Gail Tverberg says:

            There is also the issue of insects creating problems with the electrical connections, as I recall from Pedro Prieto’s descriptions of the problems in Spain.

            • Xabier says:

              More carconogenic pesticides, then, to help the Green Industrial Revolution!

              How dare insects get in the way of the new planetary Eco-Consciousness!

              It all just crumbles as one looks at it, like the mummy’s face……

            • Robert Fieth says:

              Termites! Those wretched termites. In West Africa, almost all electric wiring was visible, rather than hidden inside walls or conduits. So that we could see what the termites were doing, and take timely action.

              But no pesticides; just clean them out, and let the house lizards eat the stragglers.

            • 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.
              Gail Tverberg says:

              We have lots of termites in Georgia, too. Realtors have a saying, “There are two kinds of houses: Those who have had termite damage and those that will.” I think treatments are getting better, but there is still a problem. Without fossil fuels, there would definitely be a problem keeping termites away from electrical transmission (assuming there could be electrical transmission in the first place).

            • hkeithhenson
              hkeithhenson says:

              “what the termites were doing,”

              Were they eating the insulation?

            • Mike Roberts
              Mike Roberts says:

              Great point. Another example of issues that are glossed over by the proponents of a renewable energy “solution”.

    • Ed – I am interested in energy issues.
      Ed says:

      Keith, this is why we need mirrors in geo-orbit to provide 24 hour per day sun on the 1000km diameter PV array. Gives us a factor of at least 3 improvement in energy per day. As to wind blown sand we will need wind breaks.

      • hkeithhenson
        hkeithhenson says:

        Have you calculated the size of the mirror in GEO? The Sun is about half a degree wide, a mirror in GEO would have to be very large indeed.

        • Mike Roberts
          Mike Roberts says:

          As the sun’s rays are essentially parallel at earth, presumably a 1000km diameter array would need a 1000km diameter mirror to direct sunlight on the whole array? Yes, that is very large indeed.

          • Tim Groves – Japan
            Tim Groves says:

            I’ve gotten around the ridiculously-large orbital mirror issue by postulating a 100km diameter lens to focus incoming sunlight onto a large-but-not-excessively-so orbital mirror.

            Keith, do you think this idea could be a winner?

  35. hkeithhenson
    hkeithhenson says:

    I made a math error factor of 10 in my calculations.

    It turns out that 28% of the Sahara would have to be paved with solar cells, or 120% of Saudia Arabia.

    Takes close to 30,000 Sasol sized plants at a billion dollars each. Building them at 3000 a year would burn through ~$3 T.

    There still might be a market for carbon-neutral fuel, but displacing the whole 100 million bbl/day would not be easy.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Oops!

      • hkeithhenson
        hkeithhenson says:

        Yes, that’s what peer-review will catch, and in this case, that’s what happened.

        Mike Sneed makes the case that there is not enough area in the sunny parts of the US to make storable fuel this way. He points out that for the same power, you need about 1/5th of the PV area in rectennas. So due to area, it may turn out that power satellites are required.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      I expect that people would want to replace coal and natural gas as well with a low- or non-carbon substitute. Also, make enough to keep up with population growing to 10 billion people.

      • hkeithhenson
        hkeithhenson says:

        “to 10 billion people”

        It’s not impossible because there is 2/3rd of the Sahara Desert left after making 100 million bbls/day of oil. But I think it will be done another way if anything is done at all.

        It may be worth remembering the Singularity with an estimated takeoff time by the mid-2040s.

        But talk about a race with disaster.

        • “It may be worth remembering the Singularity with an estimated takeoff time by the mid-2040s.”

          it may be worth remembering that on another issue you have been off by a factor of 10…

          I propose that the math behind this date falls way short of being comprehensive enough to make any claim about the Singularity becoming a reality…

          in other words, the Singularity is merely sci fi imagining…

          but…

          I bet the math would be so very entertaining to see!

          fire away!

          • hkeithhenson
            hkeithhenson says:

            “math behind this date”

            It’s not my work. Ray Kurzweil is the main person who has worked on this. Try https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity if you want to see the graphs.

            • oh, I see…

              then it is merely sci fi imagining…

            • DJ says:

              Extrapolations of processor speeds.

              Two objections against processor speed as proportional measure of progress:
              1. Systems today waste most processor cycles through lots of layers and abstractions.
              2. Computing has become so complex so what in the 80s was an economist who happened to program sometimes, around 2000 was a IT technician who did “everything”, now they’re specialised on a very small segment of system development/operation.

              I don’t think well above average human brains can take much more before they can’t squeeze more use out of more processing power.

              You probably need genetic augmentation before getting AI above insect level.

            • 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.
              Gail Tverberg says:

              I cringe every time an update is added to computer programs. What unwanted feature will I now need to work around? Why possibly did anyone want to make this update?

            • DJ says:

              Also, processing speed per $1000.

              How much of that improvment is because of going from “handbuilt” in labs by high income persons to highly automated processes controlled by slave labor in some shithole?

          • Xabier says:

            The Singularity is just a myth invented by those who wish to evade the reality of being mammals who will die after a brief life. Great name though!

  36. Hubbs says:

    I would like to see any models for equities unwind if and when it does occur, despite having read some interesting arguments for a stock market continued melt -up, possibly due to continued inflows from foreign market capital flight. In theory during a sudden downturn, as more people rush for the exits, the prices drop which in turn accelerates the attempt to sell even more equities, trigger margin calls etc., thereby accelerating the negative feed back loop. But, won’t the automatic stops in the stock markets give central banks enough time to print more money and nip these in the bud, as I think the FED was able to do during last year’s Christmas -eve drop?

    I think the prospect of not being able to stop an equities meltdown and/or a deflationary event is what has the FED and central banks worried the most. They have no sense of when, where, or how the bottom might fall out, so they have to keep pumping “money” into the markets. The fear of the unknown.

    Gold and silver price action seems to be the reverse. Prices have to be high enough to keep miners from going bankrupt in order to allow CBs to continue buying up all the gold and silver that can be mined at reasonably cheap costs, yet not allow prices to increase to the point that they unmask dollar underlying weakness(facade) in the face of even weaker world fiat currencies. In short, central banks have allowed gold to rise a little bit, but will now defend against higher prices @1500/oz as long as miners are financially able to extract the last bit of recoverable metals.

    • I know that his politics aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but Mac10 makes some good points vis-à-vis the stock markets in a recent post:

      “This is the first time in U.S. history that the stock market is peaking AFTER the beginning of recession…

      “Compliments of the unprecedented stimulus gimmicks employed during this era, the stock market is no longer a reliable barometer of the economy.

      “Hugh Hendry warned this would happen: “The worse the reality of the economy becomes, the more we take on the reflexive belief in further and dramatic monetary expansion and the more attractive the stock market looks.”

      “At this latent juncture, real-time GDP (“Now”) is running at 1%. In other words, the U.S. is borrowing 4% of GDP to have less than 1% growth. A confirmed recession at any other time in U.S. history…

      “On top of all that are the record buybacks intended to keep the market bid up while insiders exit. Buybacks hit their all time high one year ago in the fourth quarter, and are now falling. In 2007, the peak in buybacks occurred a few months before recession began. As the article notes, ALL types of corporate cash spending is now falling.”

      http://ponziworld.blogspot.com/2019/11/recessionary-rally.html

      • 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.
        Gail Tverberg says:

        With profits down, it should be no surprise that corporate cash spending is falling.

        The fact that the US stock market is holding up is the result of a lot of different things:
        1. Financial gimicks
        2. Recession started in China, spending elsewhere
        3. US is now the best of a bad lot. Borrow in currencies with negative interest rates, and invest in the US.

        • Xabier says:

          Moreover, every possible effort is made to maintain the stock market in the US, as people are influenced by the delusory ‘wealth-effect’ – just as with distorted real estate values.

          All a conjurer’s game…..

          ‘No (real) Wealth but Life’. (J. Ruskin – died a raving madman, but he was right!)

      • “This is the first time in U.S. history that the stock market is peaking AFTER the beginning of recession…”

        this is probably spot on…

        US recessions seem to be officially called with a delay of 2 or 3 quarters, for propaganda purposes, so no official recession call as of now doesn’t say where we are at…

        it has become blatantly obvious that there is massive manipulation going on to keep up the stock markets, and all too obviously because there is a desire to not have a repeat of the 2008 stock market meltdown…

        why are CBs propping up stock markets?

        because they can!

        it’s that simple… they have financial techniques available to get their desired result…

        so the markets indeed are no barometer of what is really going on with the economics of IC…

        the problem is that, besides stock markets, there is “everything else”…

        there’s no way that “everything else” can be manipulated, which is maybe too obvious…

        negative interest rates, low commodity prices, and low inflation suggest that the economy is degrading even though markets are high…

        one significant missing puzzle piece is rising unemployment…

        when that comes, all bets are off…

        • DJ says:

          If real growth comes through increasing efficiency.

          And money printing admits useless enterprises staying alive, lossmaking IT companies, bridges to nowhere.

          Then money printing will kill real growth, while at the same time hiding it.

        • “Those who have studied the yield curve and its relationship to the economy stress that, historically speaking, it doesn’t matter if the yield curve returns to normal. The recession predictor is that it inverted at all — though the downturn can take as long as two years to arrive.

          “In a way, the damage is done,” said Campbell Harvey, a Duke University finance professor whose research first showed the predictive power of the yield curve in the mid-1980s. “If you look at the track record, if you’ve got an inversion, there is a recession that follows.”

          “One reason is that the yield curve has a real-world impact on the banking system. Banks borrow money at short-term rates and then lend it out — in a 30-year home mortgage, for example — at long-term rates.

          “So when short-term rates are higher than long-term rates, bank profits are crushed and they cut back on lending. That’s bad news for the economy.

          “Then there’s the market’s feedback loop, which can stymie decision-making by executives, discouraging new investments.

          ““When the yield curve is inverted, investors pull in risk taking,” Mr. Golub of Credit Suisse sad.””

          https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/08/business/yield-curve-recession-indicator.html

          • 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.
            Gail Tverberg says:

            Yes, I have noticed this before. The indicator is that an inverted yield curve precedes a recession, in fact by up to two years.

            • Robert Firth says:

              Gail, that of course is the answer. The inverted yield curve does not predict a recession; it creates it. By fooling all those so clever economists into believing it will happen. A classic example of the Madness of Crowds. These fools don’t believe in astrology; they believe in graphs. But the fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our graphs, but in ourselves.

    • Dennis L. says:

      I posit markets are not going up, currency is going down. Warren referenced “The Death of Money” some years back. Own, i. e., control enough of a useful corporation and one has wealth. Wealth in nominal terms is possibly more about control of the remaining wealth than absolute wealth.
      Interesting times,

      Dennis L.

      • ssincoski
        ssincoski says:

        And when that control fades away a lot of the make-believe wealth will also. I suspect we are going to soon see many newly-hatched millionares scratching their heads and wondering what happened. We did all the right things (to get rich)!?

      • Country Joe says:

        I always wondered why that when bread and gas and 2x4s went up in price it was inflation but when the stock market went up it was economic growth.

        • 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.
          Gail Tverberg says:

          Good point!

  37. “A spate of bank runs has highlighted the growing challenges facing China’s financial sector, with local lenders particularly vulnerable due to the slowing economy and a crackdown on shadow banking…

    “While many large banks have taken measures to reduce non-performing loans, city commercial banks and rural financial institutions have suffered higher rates of soured loans as the economy has slowed. Beijing bailed out three troubled regional banks — Baoshang Bank, Bank of Jinzhou and Hengfeng Bank — earlier this year.”

    https://www.ft.com/content/f42673e4-01b8-11ea-b7bc-f3fa4e77dd47

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      I am afraid the story is just starting.

      • “Chinese factories are again threatening to drag down prices around the world as the cost of their goods decline by the most since 2016.

        “In a fresh challenge to the ability of global central banks to revive inflation, China’s slowest growth in almost three decades and cheaper energy costs have left manufacturing prices declining since July.

        “…the overall effect is a potential spiral of falling prices worldwide as companies everywhere are forced to compete with Chinese rivals to protect profits. That would add further tension to the U.S.-China trade war.”

        https://www.bloombergquint.com/amp/global-economics/global-economics/china-s-factories-are-exporting-lower-prices-around-the-world

        • “In contrast, China’s consumer prices rose at their fastest pace in almost eight years, driven mostly by a surge in pork prices as African swine fever ravaged the country’s hog herds…

          “…surging consumer inflation is adding to the headaches of policymakers who are racing the calendar to meet Beijing’s annual growth target…

          “October’s consumer price index (CPI) rose 3.8% year-on-year, the most since January 2012 and beating analysts’ expectations for 3.3% rate.”

          https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cnbc.com/amp/2019/11/09/china-ppi-cpi-in-oct-consumer-inflation-soars-on-high-pork-prices.html

          • 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.
            Gail Tverberg says:

            Net of food prices, people have less to spend on other things.

        • 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.
          Gail Tverberg says:

          Falling coal prices is probably part of the problem. Also, the relatively low yuan compared to the dollar.

          The expected fallout of falling coal prices is coal mines that close for lack of profitability in the not too distant future. This in turn leads to layoffs, and reduced purchases from other sectors of the economy.

          • hkeithhenson
            hkeithhenson says:

            ” is coal plants”

            Mines maybe?

            • 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.
              Gail Tverberg says:

              Right, I will fix it. Coal fired power plants have problems when the price of coal rises too high, because the government won’t let them raise the prices to the consumers sufficiently.

  38. “Financial markets have seen this story before: The Federal Reserve rides in with piles of freshly minted digitized money that helps send the prices of stocks and other assets lurching forward.

    “But this isn’t 2009…

    ““This really speaks to the idea that once again we’re on the brink of potentially being in this bubble, where valuations are about the story and the narrative and not about the cash flow and profits,” she said. “You would think we would have learned this lesson before. But here we go again,” said Lisa Shalett, chief investment officer at Morgan Stanley Asset Management.”

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/07/the-feds-monetary-juice-has-tied-directly-to-the-rise-in-stocks.html

    • “Low liquidity is creating higher volatility this earnings season. Stocks boosted by earnings beats are moving more than normal. Liquidity has reached some of its lowest points in a decade.

      “Low liquidity preceded the 2007-2008 financial crisis.”

      https://www.investopedia.com/how-liquidity-shortage-is-fueling-explosive-stock-swings-4775562

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      No kidding!

  39. “Global debt has hit an all-time high of $188 trillion, which is more than double the output of the global economy, the IMF warned today. The global debt load has surged to a new record of around 230 per cent of world’s output, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said.

    “While private sector borrowing accounts for the vast majority of the total, the rise puts governments and individuals at risk if the economy slows, she said. “‘Global debt – both public and private – has reached an all-time high of $188 trillion. This amounts to about 230 per cent of world output,’ Georgieva said in a speech to open a two-day conference on debt.

    “That is up from the previous record of $164 trillion in 2016, according to IMF figures.

    “While interest rates remain low, borrowers can use debt to make investments in productive activities or weather a bout of low commodity prices.

    “But it can become ‘a drag on growth’, she said.

    “‘The bottom line is that high debt burdens have left many governments, companies, and households vulnerable to a sudden tightening of financial conditions,’ she cautioned.”

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7661737/Global-debt-hits-time-high-188-TRILLION-DOUBLE-worlds-economic-output-IMF-warn.html

    • “The bubbles of the 2008 crisis were blown because there were simply not enough outlets for profitable, productive investment in the developed world…

      “In the coming recession, many companies that are currently puttering along in the US and Europe will fail. Credit will seize up as the pressure on lenders increases. Failing companies will not be able to refinance their debt at lower rates or take out new loans to pay off existing ones, leading them to default.

      “Cascading defaults on junk debt will crash the sub-prime corporate debt market and many of its associated CLOs, just as the demise of the US housing market destroyed the CDO market in 2008. Many shadow lenders, which are largely unregulated and not positioned to withstand a recession, will also fail and go into default, squeezing their institutional sponsors.

      “But that is not all.

      “In an average recession, around 10 percent of rated securities get downgraded. As discussed above, many commercial banks, investment banks and pension funds face restrictions from holding any of the $3 trillion in outstanding BBB-rated corporate bonds if and when they receive one notch downgrades. It is thus highly likely that there will be a fire sale on up to $300 billion of severely-distressed, if not worthless, assets at a time when all major buyers are also selling.

      “Many hedge funds and pension funds will take severe losses, which will be passed onto the banks with whom they have financial connections. Banks like Wells Fargo and Japan’s Norinchukin, the largest holders of CLOs, will also take severe losses.

      “Large banks are also legally required to hold a certain reserve of capital to cover potential losses in their portfolio. As the crisis develops — and stock, bond, and derivative values plummet — the big banks will be forced to sell even more of their assets just to meet capital requirements. After public protestations to the contrary, many large institutions will be found insolvent.”

      https://www.resilience.org/stories/2019-11-07/new-bubbles-mounting-debt-preparing-for-the-coming-crisis/

      • HDUK says:

        Wow………….. I must admit this is how I see the situation playing out. BUT how much would central banks have to pump in to stop the collapse and would it? Dr Morgan has mentioned $320trillion of asset ‘value’ will be destroyed, at the moment the FED is tinkering in the $billions, after GFC1 over $29 trillion was required, see the Levy Report BUT I don’t think they really understand the systemic risk, which appears to be unfolding in the repo market. They are ‘academics who think their models are the answer to the problem’ which is really a predicament, they clearly are not. I guess it’s time to really stock up on the gold and silver after the essentials, after all aren’t the central banks? Do what they do not what they say. We have livestock (just bought a very nice Bull) and we won’t be accepting infinite paper for a lamb eg that’s for sure if what is predicted unfolds, assuming they are not rustled!!. We will want a store of value for a store of energy.
        This is worth an hour of your time.
        https://www.peakprosperity.com/grant-williams-a-reset-of-the-system-is-inevitable/
        As always Harry, thank you for your diligence in keeping us all informed and you Gail for the site to share all this info.
        http://www.levyinstitute.org/pubs/wp_698.pdf

      • Xabier says:

        When a system is in inexorable decline:

        Debt = Neck + Noose.

        The pianowire kind that does the job so, so slowly until…..you expire. Not the kind long-drop and a broken neck.

        We can’t control one bit what our governments and the CB’s do to try to shore up the failing system, but for the individual freedom from debt must be the first priority.

        • Robert Firth says:

          Xabier, please allow me most heartily to endorse that sentiment. I have been debt feee for almost 20 years, and the money that might have gone to mortgages, car loans, credit cards and frills has been saved. If all goes well, my retirement fund will keep me for as long as needed, and the balance will go to my children and grandchildren.

          To quote, once again, the words of my first and best financial advisor: “Pay cash, or go without”. But then, my Grandmother was born when Queen Victoria was on the throne, and money mattered.

          • Xabier says:

            My Victorian great-grandmother trusted in her sock filled with gold sovereigns, until the early 1960’s!

            Much as people might mock it, she sincerely believed that ‘God will provide’, and admonished that ‘If you are not happy, it’s your own fault’. She wouldn’t have thought much of Millennial whining…..

            If I have any backbone at all, it comes from that woman.

            • Trusting in Providence tends to pay dividends, in my experience, but it is not easy to let go of all that egoic fear. If I may quote my noble countryman, Rod Stewart:

              “Luck is believing you’re lucky, that’s all, and showing just a little bit of faith.”

            • Duncan Idaho says:

              Saw Jeff Beck in LA in 1967 or 68.
              Stewart was lead singer– who was that guy?

          • Denial says:

            Wait ——if what is said up above by Harry, then that will cause mass inflation. Before 2008 a billion dollars was a lot of money after it was not. Your cash will be worth less in the future. Assets would seem like a better idea…but there will be no escaping, there is no “right” thing to do. And it does not mean that you are better off because you paid in Cash etc….that is going to be the frustrating thing forward. Your health, sanity and friends are all you will have…..but then again that is really all that you have…everything else will disappear pretty quick.

      • 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.
        Gail Tverberg says:

        This seems like a strange article for Resilience to be publishing.

        • It is! There’s some good stuff in there but you have to mentally filter out the socialist tub-thumping:

          “…The left in the developed world is still broadly unprepared to organize and harness this rage and indignation — though there is still time, now, to ready ourselves.”

          The political left seems resolutely convinced that financial and ecological mayhem will strengthen their hand and open the door to a socialist utopia… The only way I can see socio-economic collapse making us all equals is if it kills everybody.

          • Xabier says:

            They will get the collapse of Capitalism that they claim to want – but it won’t be anything to celebrate…..

            Infantile day-dreaming at it’s best.

            Dangerous Utopianism at its worst – those who seek ‘purity’ and perfection do tend to end up as mass murderers, somehow.

          • Denial says:

            Yup the right has it all figured out>!!!??? I have a friend who is a trumper and if I tell him the economics of whaat is going on he thinks that its a conspiracy . The left thought the same thing….if you believe that one side is more knowledgeable about what is going on your a fool! I have heard people on the right talking about a civil war and how tough they would be….. but after one bloody nose I think they would run crying home….I wish baby politics would be left out of discussion; makes me wonder if this is a russian sponsored website.

            • It wasn’t my intention to seem partisan, Denial. No political party is prepared to acknowledge the limits to growth, and no electorate would ever vote into power a party that did.

              From a macro-perspective, national politics is in any case something of an empty charade, designed to keep the global economy growing at the circa 3% growth-rate it has enjoyed for the past two hundred years.

              Historically it has been the tension between the political polarities that has allowed for reasonably functional democracies (thence economies) and facilitated this growth trajectory.

              But as we chafe against the limits to growth, the tension grows too great; the polarities push too far apart; there is splintering in the middle; the centre cannot hold; political paralysis and/or social unrest may ensue.

              The worsening political, social and indeed financial pathologies of this era are best understood as surface manifestations of underlying energy and resource-constraints.

              I was just having a pop at the left out of mischief but I will try not to be so naughty in future.

            • “The worsening political, social and indeed financial pathologies of this era are best understood as surface manifestations of underlying energy and resource-constraints.”

              concise… nicely worded… quite right…

            • “[Today’s election] result suggests Spain is no closer to ending its impasse and is again bound for months of negotiations and horse-trading to try to assemble a government at a time of unprecedented political fragmentation.”

              https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/10/spain-general-election-polls-pedro-sanchez-psoe

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