Recession Ahead: An Overview of Our Predicament

Many people have the impression that recessions come from financial missteps, such as the US subprime loan fiasco. If energy is involved at all, the problem comes from high oil prices as supply becomes inadequate to meet demand.

The real situation is different. We already seem to be on the road toward a new crisis; this crisis is likely to be much worse than the Great Recession of 2008-2009. This time, a major problem is likely to be energy prices that are too low for producers. Last time, a major problem was oil prices that were too high for consumers. The problem is different, but it is in some ways symmetric.

Last time, the United States seemed to be the epicenter; this time, my analysis indicates China is likely to be the epicenter. Last time, the world economy was coming off a high growth period; this time, the world economy is already somewhat depressed, even before hitting headwinds. These differences, plus the strange physics-based way that the world economy is organized, explain why the outcome seems likely to be worse this time than in 2008-2009.

I recently explained what I see as happening in a presentation for actuaries: Recession Likely: Expect a Bend in Trend Lines. This post is based on this presentation, omitting the strictly insurance-related portions.

The big thing that the vast majority of people do not understand is how important energy is to the economy. Because of this issue, I started my presentation with this slide:

Slide 3

After an opportunity for discussion, I offered the explanation that the role of food for humans is very much parallel to the need for energy of various types for the world economy. Food provides people with the energy required if they are to have the ability to think, move and speak. Energy products of many kinds enable the activities that we associate with GDP. For example, energy consumption enables machinery to operate and goods to be transported.

Slide 4 – Larger image at this link.

Using data from Smil, as well as more recent BP data, we can estimate how fast energy consumption has been growing over a very long period–nearly 200 years. We can see that the highest energy consumption growth occurred in the 1961 to 1970 period; the second highest growth occurred in the 1951 to 1960 period. These are periods we associate with rapid GDP growth and prosperity.

On the next slide, I show the same data displayed in a different way.

Slide 5 – Larger image at this link.

On this slide, I make two changes in the way the data are displayed:

  1. The increases in energy consumption are split into two components: (a) energy used to support population growth and (b) all other, which I describe as energy used to support improvement in “living standards.”
  2. A different graphing approach is used.

Note that when population growth corresponds to the full amount of energy consumption growth (in other words, at times when there is no red area above the blue area), energy consumption per capita is flat. High growth in energy consumption per capita seems to correspond to rising living standards, as occurred in the 1950s and 1960s.

While I label the “all other” category as if it is simply changes in living standards, there are other components, as well. One breakdown might be the following:

  1. True improvement in living standards.
  2. Additional energy investments required to offset diminishing returns.
  3. Increasing use of energy for overhead items that don’t get back to individuals, such as energy used to fight pollution or to allow globalization.
  4. Efficiency improvements allowing available energy to be more productive.

Efficiency improvements (Item 4) will allow more energy to be available for improvement in living standards, while Items 2 and 3 in the above list act in the opposite direction. We do not know to what extent these items really offset each other. Thus, “All other” = “Improvement in Living Standards” is only a rough approximation.

Slide 6 – Larger image at this link.

We can see from Slide 6 that whenever there is no red area above the blue area (flat living standards or flat energy per capita), adverse events seem to happen.

For example, the US Civil War (1861-1865) came at a time of low energy consumption growth. The Great Depression of the 1930s came during another period of low energy consumption per capita growth. World War I came at the beginning of this period, and World War II came at the end. The collapse of the central government of the Soviet Union in 1991 ushered in a decade of low world energy consumption growth, in part because of the loss of the central currency of the Soviet Union.

The “China Coal” note at the end pertains to the way that China and its coal supply has helped pull the world economy forward since 2001. This benefit seems to be already declining.

Slide 7 – Larger image at this link.

Slide 7 shows China’s energy production by fuel. Coal production (in red) soared after China was added to the World Trade Organization in December 2001. Beginning about 2012, China’s coal production began to plateau. Depleting mines and low prices for coal have kept production flat. Imports can be used as substitutes, to some extent, but it is difficult to keep costs low enough and provide adequate total supply.

With the loss of growth in China’s coal production, its economy has had to cut back. Each year, we read about coal mine closures and miners needing to find new jobs. We know that China discontinued its paper and plastic recycling business as of January 1, 2018. China has also been cutting back on solar subsidies, leading to fewer jobs installing solar panels. All of these types of changes reduce the number of people who can afford to buy high-priced goods, such as new homes, vehicles and smart phones.

Slide 8 – Larger image at this link.

It is becoming increasingly clear that China is being forced to cut back on heavy industrialization because of its coal difficulties. Slide 8 shows automobile purchases for six large economies. China is by far the largest of these economies in terms of auto sales. China’s auto sales began to slide in 2018 and are sliding further in 2019 (about -11%).

If we look back at the time of the 2008-2009 recession, we see that auto sales of the US dropped precipitously. The United States was the country that led the world into recession. The inability of US citizens to buy cars was a sign that something was seriously wrong. Now we are seeing a similar pattern in China.

China has reported that its GDP growth rate has been slightly lower during 2019, but we really don’t know how much lower. The amounts it publishes are too “smooth” to be believed. The actual GDP growth rate is believed to be lower than the recently reported 6.0%, but no one knows by precisely how much.

Figure 8b – CNBC Chart of changes in auto sales by country, based on data through October 2019. (Not part of original presentation.) Source

Figure 8b gives a little more information about recent car sales by country. We can see from this chart that based on data through October 2019, world automobile sales are expected to fall by about the same percentage (3%) in 2019 as during the recession year of 2008. I find this disturbing.

We can also see the huge impact that China has had on keeping world private passenger auto sales rising. The world economy looked like it was headed into recession in January, 2016, when world oil prices were very low, but a spike in China’s automobile sales at that time helped keep total world automobile sales rising and allowed world oil prices to rise from their low point.

In the next sections, I provide some background regarding this story.

Slide 9

Slide 10 – Larger image at this link.

Slide 10 shows the way that I visualize the world economy self-organizing and growing. The economy grows by adding new “layers” of businesses, products, consumers and laws. Unneeded products, such as buggy whips, are dropped from the bottom. Unprofitable businesses close. In some sense, the economy is hollow because of these deletions. It cannot easily go backward because, for example, the support services for widespread use of transport using horses are lacking.

Energy is used to operate all aspects of the system. One part of the system is a self-organizing financial system that helps decide, through wage levels, who gets the benefit of the goods and services that are made. This financial system includes self-organizing interest rates and self-organizing commodity prices.

The most important connection within the economy is the one I show at the center as “Consumers = Employees.” Consumers are very dependent on their wages as employees. If the economy is to continue to operate, workers must receive high enough wages to purchase the goods and services the economy produces. Even the lower-paid workers need to be able to afford food, housing and transportation, or the economy will tend to collapse.

Slide 11

When we look back through the history on Slides 4, 5 and 6, we see that the growth of energy consumption is very important in how economies operate. The theories of Ilya Prigogine explain why this is the case; when adequate flows of energy are available, self-organizing systems are able to grow.

Few economists today include energy consumption in their models, however. Economic theory has grown over time in its own “ivory tower.” Like other academic subjects, it depends on early theories and the process of peer review. The views expressed must also be pleasing to those in power, who would like everyone to believe that politicians, rather than the laws of physics, are in charge.

Slide 12

There are many types of self-organizing systems that grow. They all, directly or indirectly, require energy. Plants and animals of all types are self-organizing systems that grow. Hurricanes grow using the energy that they get from warm water.

Governments grow from the tax revenue that they are able to collect; they use the revenue to buy energy products such as electricity to operate governmental offices, oil to build roads and operate police cars, and natural gas to heat buildings.

The Internet grows through the revenue collected to provide its services. The Internet uses revenue to buy computers (made with energy products) and electricity to operate those computers.

Slice 13

Nearly all 0f the energy we use is hidden. For example, modern food production is very much dependent on energy consumption. Agricultural machines are made using energy products. Soil amendments, including organic soil amendments, are transported using fossil fuel energy. Refrigeration is possible through the use of energy. Hybrid seeds are only possible through energy consumption. Planting seeds by digging with a stick would only use human energy, but such a process would be terribly inefficient.

Slide 14

Slide 15

Most of us can easily recognize today’s goods and services, such as those listed.

Slide 16

Promises of future goods and services act like promises of future energy supplies. This happens because creating goods and services that people can actually use requires energy supplies of the appropriate type.

When people get cash or a check, they expect to use it to buy goods and services. Creating these goods and services requires energy consumption. If there is no energy of the right type available, the goods and services won’t be available to fulfill the promises.

Slide 17 – Larger image at this link.

Promises of future goods and services tend to grow faster than actual goods and services because it is these promises that, in some sense, “pull the economy along.” For example, if a young person gets a loan, (s)he can often buy a new car. The fact that a new car is being purchased leads to more jobs in the supply line leading up to new car production. Or, if a business takes out a loan or sells shares of stock, it can use the proceeds to hire employees. It is these growing wages that keep the system operating.

As long as the economy is growing rapidly, the mismatch between growing debt and actual output doesn’t become apparent. As the economy slows, some workers find themselves working fewer hours. Some businesses become less profitable and lay off workers to try to restore profitability. The catch is, with fewer workers, the economy slows even more. It usually takes more debt, at lower interest rates, to get out of such an economic slowdown.

Slide 18

Slide 19

There is a lot of confusion about prices. “Demand” is what people, through their wages and debt, can afford. As economists tell us, price depends on supply and demand.

In the short term, prices tend to bounce around a lot. The short term buyers of oil are oil refineries. They need to keep their employees busy. If they see a shortage of oil, they may bid up the price of oil to allow their workers to continue to be employed.

Over the longer term, prices of all energy products tend to depend on consumers’ ability to afford finished products, like cars, homes and cell phones. Producing these objects and shipping them takes energy. They also use energy as they operate.

Slide 20 – Larger image at this link.

The various energy prices shown here are simply a few of the many, many energy prices that we see around the world. Strangely enough, prices of all energy products tend to fluctuate together, over the longer term. Prices depend on affordability of end products, such as cars, homes, computers, food and clothing. Our problem since about 2012 has been lack of affordability of end products.

The primary way of raising affordability is by increasing productivity. Increased productivity is made possible by increasingly leveraging human labor with devices that are built with energy and are operated using energy. For example, a worker with a ditch digging machine is much more productive than a ditch digger with only a shovel. An analyst is more productive with a computer and Internet access than with only pencil and paper.

With higher productivity, more goods are produced in total. As long as not too much of this productive output is skimmed off the top (by governments, or by business hierarchy, or to pay for the devices and their fuel), it is possible for each worker to afford more goods and services, raising total demand.

An alternative way of raising affordability is by adding more debt at ever-lower interest rates. This approach tends to make goods such as cars, homes, and factories appear more affordable because their monthly payments are lower. This added-debt approach only works as long as the economy is growing quickly enough. If the economy slows too much, the added debt leads to financial crashes of many types.

Slide 21

Slide 22

Many people think that they know the amount of oil that can be extracted based on the current technology and the assumption that prices will eventually rise high enough to extract all of the fossil fuels that seem to be available. For example, the International Energy Agency has prepared reports in which it shows expected oil availability if oil prices rise to $300 per barrel.

The catch is that even if oil prices can bounce high, it is not clear that they can stay very high. The current price of oil is only in the $55 to $65 per barrel range. A price of $300 per barrel will allow oil extraction using very advanced technology. We don’t have any evidence that oil prices can stay this high because demand comes primarily from wages. Prices cannot stay high without adequate support from wage levels.

Of course, the issue is not just oil prices staying sufficiently high. Natural gas, coal, uranium and electricity prices all have difficulty rising high enough and staying high enough. Commodity prices such as copper and steel have the same issue.

Slide 23

There are many people who say, “Of course, oil prices will rise. Oil is a necessity.” They forget that it is really a two way tug of war between producers getting a high enough price to be profitable and consumers getting a low enough price to be affordable. There will be a winner and a loser.

People also forget that most commodity use is hidden. We see the fuel we buy for our personal vehicles, but there are a huge quantity of oil products required for shipping goods, paving roads, growing food, and for many other uses that we are not aware of. While we might be able to pay a little more to fill our gasoline tank, most of us would not be able to simultaneously pay more for food, transported goods of all kinds and road maintenance.

Slide 24 – Larger image at this link.

Economists often assume that if energy prices rise, wages will rise, as well. If we look at the data historically, however, it doesn’t work that way at all. What happens is the opposite: average wages tend to rise as long as oil prices stay low. Once oil prices spike, average wages tend to flatten out.

The amounts shown on Slide 24 are average wages, computed by taking the total inflation-adjusted wages for the population in total and dividing by population. When oil prices spike, recession soon sets in. The reason why average wages fall is partly because more people become unemployed. Other workers find it necessary to accept lower-paying jobs.

Slide 25 – Larger image at this link.

Many people focus on the run-up in oil prices to July 2008. An equally important point is the fact that the world economy has not been able to maintain these high prices since July 2008. The general price trend has been downward. The cuts by OPEC have not had a material impact.

Slide 26

Citizens of the United States, Europe, and Japan are used to thinking of high energy prices as being a problem because they are from countries that require substantial imported energy to maintain their GDP. For example, Greece will sell fewer trips on its tour boats, if oil prices are high. This will have an adverse impact on employment and the ability to repay debt with interest.

If a country is an oil exporting country, low oil prices are an even worse problem. This happens because oil exporting countries tend to earn a large share of their revenue from taxes on the sale of oil. These taxes can be much higher if oil is selling for, say, $120 per barrel than if it is selling for $60 per barrel. These tax dollars are used to provide subsidies to offset the high cost of imported food. They are also used to build industry and infrastructure to provide employment to the population.

If oil prices are too low, oil exporting countries will tend to cut back on oil production. In fact, this has been happening for OPEC for the entire year of 2019.

Similar problems occur if commodity prices of any kind (coal, natural gas, uranium, steel, copper, etc.) stay too low for an extended period. Producers go bankrupt, or they stop production, or they pay their employees so poorly that the employees go on strike. Sometimes, they may even start rioting. Many of the riots around the world today are related to low commodity prices.

Slide 27

Slide 28 – Larger image at this link.

The world experienced spiking oil prices in the period leading up to mid-2008. These high prices caused a recession and much lower prices followed. The chart on Slide 28 gives a somewhat exaggerated view of what goes wrong with high oil prices.

If the price of oil suddenly spikes to two or three times its previous price, both the price of food and gasoline are likely to increase. This change tends to lead to a big shift in a family’s budget. Debt payments, such as for a home and car, are pretty much fixed, so the big increase in food and gasoline prices must be taken out of the budget earmarked for everything else. This leads to cutbacks in discretionary spending such as vacations, restaurant meals, and charitable contributions.

In a short time, there are layoffs in discretionary sectors. Those who are laid off are more prone to defaults on loan payments. The problem soon escalates to a recession, with high unemployment and low oil prices.

Slide 29

Strangely enough, central banks push back against high oil prices as well. They know that high oil prices lead to high food prices. Citizens of energy-importing countries will be unhappy with elected officials if oil and food prices rise. Thus, central banks tend to raise short-term interest rates, as soon as they become concerned about high oil and food prices.

The recession that follows will quickly bring food and energy prices back down. If food and energy prices fall, the low prices will be the problem of the energy producers. Oil exporters will find their tax revenue too low, but the high-price problem of oil importers will be gone.

Figure 29b- Slide from a different presentation, showing the trend in interest rates. Larger image at this link.

You will recall that the rapid energy consumption growth periods were 1961 to 1970 and 1951 to 1960. During these periods, the economy was growing almost too quickly. The Federal Reserve was able to keep raising interest rates, as a way of holding down economic growth. It was not until 1981 that the pattern changed from raising interest rates to falling interest rates.

Since 1981, the US Federal Reserve and other central banks have been reducing interest rates. Lowering interest rates and rising debt levels, as mentioned previously, makes goods appear more affordable because of lower monthly payments. The concern now is that interest rates are about as low as they can go. Central banks no longer have room to offset recessionary tendencies (because of slow growth in energy consumption) by lowering short-term interest rates.

Slide 30

Most people never consider the possibility of low energy prices leading to collapse. It looks to me like this is the danger facing us today. Let’s start by looking back at what happened in 1991.

Slide 31 – Larger image at this link.

When the central government of the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the individual republics making up the Soviet Union were left on their own to find new currencies and new trading partners. Satellite countries of the Soviet Union were affected as well. Slide 31 shows that the consumption of many types of resources dropped for many years for the whole area. The low point was not reached until 1998.

Slide 32 -Larger image at this link.

If we look back to see what had happened previously, the Soviet Union was an oil producer and exporter. When oil prices were high in the 1973 to 1980 period, the Soviet Union prospered. But then low prices came along, at least partly because the US Federal Reserve raised interest rates to almost 20% in the 1980-1981 period. (See Figure 29b.)

The long-term low oil prices, in some sense, indicated that the world economy was producing too much oil; some inefficient area(s) of production needed to leave. The Soviet Union may have been singled out by the self-organizing economy because it used energy products in a less efficient manner than other economies. Its adverse outcome may also have reflected the fact that its cost of production was higher, leaving less of the sale price for reinvestment and taxes.

Slide 33

The Soviet Union is an example of what can happen if oil prices stay too low for several years. The central government of such an economy can collapse.

Slide 34

When commodity prices are too low, the economies of countries exporting those commodities are stressed. This is why we see so many uprisings in commodity-producing countries right now. Iraq with its oil has been having protests. Chile, with its copper and lithium exports, has been seeing protests. South Africa with its exports of coal, precious metals and gems has been having riots. With some escalation, any of these low-price situations could lead to an overturned government.

Slide 35

Slide 36

In Slide 36, I give an example of two different kinds of ingredients in a cake:

  1. Ones that are substitutable: the flavoring, which can be vanilla, almond, or something else
  2. Ones that are not substitutable: the flour, which is the energy product

With too small a quantity of flour, all we can do is make a smaller cake. Perhaps we can substitute a different energy product, but electricity most certainly will not do! Some bacteria eat electricity, but humans do not. Substitutability is limited, even within energy products/carriers.

Economists make models focusing on the special case when a material is not essential for the economy. This gives a misleading impression. If they had looked back at what happened when energy supplies were low relative to population growth, as we saw on Slide 6, they could make much better models.

Slide 37

We seem to be sitting on the edge of some form of collapse for at least parts of the world economy, right now.

Without enough energy consumption growth, top-level organizations, such as the European Union, the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, are especially at risk of collapse.

Slide 38

Slide 39

One of our big problems today is excessive wage disparity. High-wage workers rarely have trouble being able to afford homes, cars, vacations, and air conditioning. It is non-elite workers, the ones who have not been able to find high-paying jobs, who have an affordability problem.

The wage disparity problem is an outgrowth of how the physics of the economy works. If there are not enough goods and services to go around, the physics of the economy effectively “freezes out” some of the workers. Under this arrangement, there will be some survivors even if there is not quite enough for everyone. In some sense, the “best adapted” are able to survive. If the inadequate supply of finished goods and services were spread around evenly, there might be no survivors at all.

Slide 41

The thing that is key is that workers need to be able to afford finished goods and services produced by the economy. If too large a share of wages goes to high paid workers, or to owners of robots, there is not enough left over for the “regular” employees.

Slide 42

Many workers have seen their jobs disappear as their employers moved production to another country where wages were lower. Or, jobs can remain, but the wages will fall from the low-wage competition.

Slide 43

US income disparity seems to be as great as it was in about 1930, at the time of the Great Depression.

Slide 44

Slide 45 -Larger image at this link.

If we look at historical world energy consumption by fuel, we observe that it has been rising the vast majority of the time. The little dip that we see about 2008-2009 occurred at the time of the Great Recession. It doesn’t take much of a cutback in energy consumption to cause a major problem.

Back at Slide 20, I remarked,

The primary way of raising affordability is by increasing productivity. Increased productivity is made possible by increasingly leveraging human labor with devices that are built with energy and are operated using energy.

The world economy requires growing energy supply, of suitable kinds, to operate. If the quantity of energy available is reduced, productivity is likely to nosedive. This is true even if the reduction is intentional and seems to be for a good cause, such as reducing CO2 emissions.

We seem to be heading for a contraction in energy supplies now because of continued low energy prices. Fossil fuels are, in some sense, leaving us, whether we like it or not. World coal production has been flat to falling since 2012. IPCC scenarios assume a very different  pattern: Fossil fuel use, especially coal, will grow indefinitely, presumably because of high prices and improved technology.

Many people are hoping that wind, solar, and hydroelectric will someday replace fossil fuels. I consider this highly unlikely because all three are made using fossil fuels. Furthermore, these “renewables” in total represented only 10% of world energy supply in 2018. The 10% is divided as follows: wind, 2%; solar, 1% and hydroelectric 7%.

Slide 46 – Larger image at this link.

There clearly is a correlation between GDP growth and energy consumption growth. China with its growing coal use was pulling the world economy along, especially in the 2002 to 2012 period. Recently, it has lost much of this ability.

In my opinion, Trump’s tariffs are not the cause of our current trade problems. Tariffs seem to be enacted whenever growth in energy consumption per capita is very low. Tariffs were enacted both immediately before the US Civil War and at the time of the Great Depression. The problem is that jobs that pay well indirectly require significant energy consumption. When growth in energy consumption per capita is low, it becomes impossible to find enough jobs that pay well for everyone. Tariffs are used in an attempt to keep jobs that pay well at home.

Slide 47

We don’t know quite what will happen. The closest analogy is the Great Depression of the 1930s. More financial problems seem likely. In fact, they could escalate quite quickly. More strikes, such as those currently going on in France, seem likely. The situation is likely to play out a little differently in various countries.

The physics of the situation seems to try to keep some parts of the system operating, if at all possible. But, as mentioned at Slide 10, the self-organizing system deletes parts of the economy that are no longer needed. We no longer have an economy that can operate with horse and buggy, for example. We can’t just “go backwards” to an economy of an earlier era.

Slide 48

We are already seeing changes in this direction. Hong Kong’s protests are in the news practically daily. Germany is experiencing job layoffs. We know that in an interconnected world, a recession that starts in one large country is likely to eventually affect much of the rest of the world.

Now we are in a waiting period, waiting to see what happens next. Major changes seem likely over the next five years, but they could happen much sooner.

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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638 Responses to Recession Ahead: An Overview of Our Predicament

  1. MG says:

    The desperate situation of the white race in the regions with less sunshine: Donald Trump and Boris Johnson = both of them are the whites with blue eyes.

    The influx of the dark skin races into the regions with less sunshine has its drawbacks: rising vitamin D deficiency which means compromised abilities of the population.

    “Nutrients interact in a coordinated manner in the body; it has been reported that 1,25(OH)2D can stimulate intestinal magnesium absorption.14 The effects of vitamin D supplementation on circulating levels of magnesium were investigated in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.31 In 126 adult patients with controlled diabetes (55 men and 71 women; mean [SD] age, 53.6 [10.7] years), a significant increase in serum levels of magnesium was found after they consumed vitamin D3 supplements (2000 IU/d) for 6 months.31”

    https://jaoa.org/article.aspx?articleid=2673882

    • I, too, am a light-skinned person with blue eyes. Vitamin D levels can be a problem for us too, partly because of too much sunscreen. Also, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants and not spending enough time outside in the sunshine.

      • MG says:

        Vladimír Putin is also a kight-skinned person with blue eyes. The same was Boris Jeltsin. No wonder there seem to be hints that Trump was elected thanks to the intervention of Russians.

        The dying out Russians still have the abilities that the dying out white race in the USA appreciate:

        • MG says:

          https://www.vox.com/2019/10/8/20905160/senate-intelligence-russia-2016-election

          ““The Committee found that the IRA sought to influence the 2016 US presidential election by harming Hillary Clinton’s chances of success and supporting Donald Trump at the direction of the Kremlin,” the report reads using an acronym for the Internet Research Agency, the name for the group of the Russian hackers.

          They did this in multiple ways, according to the report. The IRA targeted African Americans more than any other group through Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, Twitter trends, and more. “By far, race and related issues were the preferred target of the information warfare campaign designed to divide the country in 2016,” the committee wrote. The IRA also got unwitting targets to hand over personal information, sign petitions, attend rallies, and even teach self-defense classes.”

        • doomphd says:

          wow, that’s a real logic stretch, MG.

          • Disregarding the later laughable propaganda the initial 1:39am post is indeed interesting one. Actually fact tracked mixing of races in northern latitudes could be leveraged up problem say in case we really get little Ice Age in the near future. For example, consider the situation in France or southern Sweden, the hatred for the host nation / their legacy compatriots could be supercharged in adverse climate shift/natural conditions.. Or it cool things (hot heads) down paradoxically (well only in scenario of no other pressing OFW issues + next Little Ice Age)..

            • MG says:

              One of my friends told me that he had an experience of the contempt of the English towards the Irish and the Scots when he worked in one of the warehouses in England. Britain seems to be disintegrating.

            • MG says:

              The human races seem to be adapted to their environments like animal species are. Even within the races, the people working e.g. as farmers or as clerks are different.

              As the artificial systems created by the humans using energy implode, there is a tendency towards matching the race with the natural conditions, i.e. light skin is better suited for the life in the regions with less sunshine. This fact was misinterpreted by Hitler as supermacy of the white race and misused for the elimination of the minorities with characteristics that were different from his model. It seems that he, as the person with different race characteristics, wanted to save himself, that is why he promoted the idea of supermacy of the white race. Obviously, he missed the energy part of the story, i.e. that it was the additional energy in colder climates that created the ideal conditions for the white race to become dominant. The presence of the winter season which eliminates other species was crucial to this dominance. Hitler missed this fact too and was badly defeated when he tried to subdue Russia with its cruel winters.

            • MG says:

              Maybe better could be said “the winter (or the lack of energy) eliminates the species that do not have energy”.

            • Tim Groves says:

              The tropics are so hot and humid year round that people are hard pressed to do much more than secure and prepare their food, build simple shelters and spend the bulk of their waking hours engaged in craftwork and basic and chatting around the hearth. Nature nurtures them and also has endless ways of keeping their population in check, assuring sustainability beyond the dreams of Greta.

              The frigid zones are so cold and bleak most of the year that people are, likewise hard pressed to do much more than secure and prepare their food, build simple shelters and spend the bulk of their waking hours engaged in craftwork and basic and chatting around the hearth, etc., etc.

              It is only in the temperate zones that people have both the motivation and the potential to innovate. The four seasons moving from cold to hot to cold again force them to be very adaptable or die, and the changing weather and temperature as the seasons progress provide them with ample opportunities to work and play hard and to get all kinds of tasks done.

              Hence that well known Biblical passage:

              To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
              A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
              A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
              A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
              A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
              A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
              A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
              A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

              Life in the temperate zone has a wonderful season rhythm to it that keeps us on our toes. Living here was an essential condition allowing us tropical apes to develop what used to be called civilization. (And yes, I call the Indian subcontinent temperate although it’s on the warm side most of the time.) It was not the only condition by any means, but an essential one nonetheless.

    • Herbie R Ficklestein says:

      Perhaps they will encounter the same setbacks California has had in the video Dennis posted. As Gail pointed out, renewable, “clean”, energy does not mean it doesn’t need to be REPLACED, REPAIRED, or have maintenance….all not possible without Fossil fuels

      • Duncan Idaho says:

        However, a city like San Francisco is the most efficient in the Nation (or #2, depending on source).
        Less does count, and most of the electricity is hydro (long story, not all good).
        Texas or Georgia stats are embarrassing, and eventually fatal.
        But, as pointed out, fossil fuel dependent— just a fraction so.

        • Most efficient or most dependent on imported finished products, however you choose to see it.

          Hawaii is very efficient; no one can drive anywhere. They fall off the edge of the island.

    • DJ says:

      Interesting that spain breaks the exponential growth until saturation, then only trickle.

      On the other hand spain is probably not an isolated grid.

    • This part sounds like a fairy tale to me:

      Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SPE, said: “Solar in the European Union is thriving. We have entered a new era of solar growth, with more new solar capacity installed than any other power generation technology in 2019.”

      Solar is a very up and down technology. The chart shown indicates this:

      Even with all of this growth, 2019 will only be Europe’s third highest year for solar.

      Solar adds huge overhead expenses, as soon as a country (or other area, such as a US state) adds very much of it. It needs a lot more transmission lines. It needs batteries. The use of Norway’s hydroelectric for mitigating short-term energy needs quickly maxes out. Part of the problem everywhere is likely to be transmission problems. Bottlenecks develop in trying to access what backup electricity is available.

      I would expect that part of the low cost has to do with China dumping solar PV on the world market at below cost. It is not really sustainable. Regarding China’s solar electricity, it is headed for a second year in a row of steep declines. PV Magazine writes:

      At the beginning of the year, the CPIA was predicting 35-45 GW of new solar capacity in China this year and other analysts were more optimistic. Short of a miraculous, Vietnam-style solar gold rush before year-end, that figure now looks set to be south of 30 GW, which itself would constitute a 30% year-on-year fall after a 20% retreat last year. That would be the very definition of a cliff-edge decline.

      China makes this stuff. If it cannot be sold locally, it must be dumped on the world market.

      • DJ says:

        “has to do with China dumping solar PV on the world market at below cost”

        Maybe also that european countries compete with each other about following Paris agreement most.

  2. Dennis L. says:

    The video posted earlier regarding CA is sobering. They appear to have taken a reliable power source and converted it into an intermittent one using solar/renewables in a very indirect way. Additionally all the non technical staff who are now on board will want to remain to give “input” and all of that input is basically additional overhead in both time and money. This seems to be a good example of complex systems failing, the failure is at the policy level.

    It would seem we have too many elites for the positions available, they really gum things up and removing them seems to be a challenge.

    If all or many of the power lines are as bad as that pictured, failure might start cascading and finding people and material to repair them will be a huge challenge. A well intended policy could crash a substantial part of the CA economy as fixed, sunk expenses go on no matter what and as they increase relative to income it is a leverage effect and not a one to one loss.

    Dennis L.

    • Was the video one that I posted a link to, or was it another one? The story gets worse, every time I read about it.

      I read a story a couple of days ago saying that one of the problems California is having with its transmission lines is annealing. WSJ: Northern California Power Outages Could Soar If Aging Lines Aren’t Replaced, PG&E Study Finds When they anneal, lines tend to stretch too much and cause fires. I earlier posted a link saying that annealing is the expected result if an area overloads its power lines, as seems likely with intermittent renewables. If the temperature rises above 200 degrees F., wires tend to anneal. In a hot area, that is not much room.

      From the WSJ article:

      In addition to replacing some geriatric lines, the money would help address a problem of “annealing” or a softening of metal wires that causes them to weaken and sag, sometimes dangerously. In October 2017, two sagging PG&E power lines came into contact, throwing off sparks that caused the Cascade fire in Yuba County, according to California fire authorities. That fire killed four people, destroyed 264 structures and scorched 10,000 acres.

      The public utilities commission is investigating that fire, and 13 others it believes were started by utility equipment, in a proceeding it opened in June. It could result in significant penalties, including for the “conductor to conductor” contact in the Cascade fire that utilities commission staff said violated a state law requiring lines to be safely separated. It is unclear, from fire incident reports, whether annealing was responsible for the line sag.

      • Dennis L. says:

        It was a different one. The failure was secondary to a hook which attached the insulator to the supporting structure actually wearing through over the years and completely failing allowing the cable to crash down and touch the tower with resultant sparking. There are photographs included that show the damage as well as the area that sparked and caused a fire. Through constant movement, these hooks have worn out, towers move and the original design life is long gone. The transmission line shown is literally falling apart and the only solution would seem to be total replacement. Apparently PG&E through green influence allowed technical people to retire, and policy people were put in place, money for maintenance went to new Green projects. Replacement costs will be huge and the costs to the hydro power supplier not insignificant in revenue forgone during shut downs for windy conditions.
        Based on past experience and if the photographs(I believe they were referenced as actual, investigative photos) are accurate, CA is looking at power blackouts into the foreseeable future with the only other solution being to try and put out fires physically while keeping the electricity going. This would seem to be a great deal of indeterminacy with no real and timely solution.

        Video becomes interesting about 1/2 way in. Juan is a former Air Force transport pilot and prior to some recent medical issues was a second in command on a 777 airliner.

        Dennis L.

        • Ed says:

          In New York State the electric utilities receive more profit from doing emergency repairs then from maintenance. The regulators are “supposed” to stop the utilities from maximizing their profits at the expense of harm to the public, but of course they are bought far more cheaply than doing the right thing.

          • Not terribly surprising! Companies maximize return to shareholders.

            I recently received a note from my gas company pointing out that my husband and I are responsible for making certain the gas pipe from the road to where it enters my house is inspected on a regular basis. It will take hiring a technician to do this. If they really wanted this done, they would inspect all of the pipelines, all the way to where they enter houses. It is not at all efficient for each homeowner to separately contract with someone to come out and look at their gas pipeline.

          • Robert Firth says:

            Ed, the same was true of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Regular maintenance had to be paid for by the State, but emergency repairs were subsidised by the federal Government. This is another major disadvantage of large political units: well meaning but ignorant initiatives at the top create perverse incentives further down the pyramid. China today provides another object lesson in this issue.

            Decentralisation, localisation, decision making at the lowest feasible level, … well, we have heard all this before.

            • I once hired a woman who was having financial troubles to help take care of my children.

              I discovered that one of the things she was doing was buying a new (maybe previously used) car when her existing car had problems. It was easier to get a loan for a replacement car than to get a loan for fixes to the existing car. I expect that some others were following the same path.

              I remember hearing that at the time of the last recession, people found that they could easily get student loans to live on, even though they could not get jobs. As a result, people who had little aptitude for more education took out these loans, worsening their situation.

    • Tim Groves says:

      What Australia has done to cripple its energy supply system (despite literally swimming in cheap-to-extract coal, uranium and thorium) rivals the best efforts of the Californians and Germans, as Jo Nova explains this very witty and wise presentation..

      Australia has more energy resources per capita than almost any place on Earth, yet despite that challenge has managed to take top spot for electricity prices.

      Joanne Nova explains what it took to achieve state-wide blackouts, flying squads of diesel generators, and a tripling of wholesale electricity prices in just five years.

      • Perhaps Australia wants to take itself out of the contest to determine which countries can continue longest. Australia makes hardly anything for itself. It perhaps couldn’t survive on resource alone, anyhow.

        • MG says:

          The resources of Russia are closer to China, India, Korea or Japan, so Australia is in trouble, unless its neighbours are interested in them.

        • Tim Groves says:

          Australia seems to be giving up on making things.

          The car industry has closed and the once thriving aluminum smelting industry is now on life support thanks to expensive electricity and the downturn in global demand.

          Still, Aussie coal continues to sell briskly.
          https://www.rba.gov.au/publications/bulletin/2019/sep/images/graph-0919-4-01.svg

          Also, when the Brits finally Brexit, the Aussies are hopping to sell the old country a lot more apples, beef and dairy products, just like in the good old days.

          • I looked at BP data. It seems to give one more year of indications than the link you give.

            According to it, the last five years of production has been relatively flat. (Your chart shows the last four years to be relatively flat.) At current prices, either the price are too high for the consumers or they are too low for producers. One way or the other, Australia is looking like “Peak Coal” as well.

            South Africa’s coal production has been flat since 2010; China’s coal production has been flat since 2012.

            Russia’s coal production has been rising. So has Indonesia’s. Perhaps they can produce coal more cheaply than Australia, China, and South Africa.

          • Tim Groves says:

            I’m not sure how the price of extracting Australian coal competes with Russia, indonesia, or China,where labor costs are considerably lower. But Australia has very thick seams of high quality coal close to the surface that can be dug up and shipped off fairly easily and efficiently.

            I read that China has been sending out mixed signals, including holding up Australian coal at ports of entry for up to 45 days and applying stricter “environmental” checks on it. This may be part of the fallout from the US-China trade confrontation. There are geopolitical considerations in play, and the Chinese are anxious to keep the domestic industry coal alive, which with the current downturn they can only do at the expense of curbing imports.

            • https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/trending/q_Gxj71eJ1pYQi3OiHXdgQ2

              This article, from February 18, 2019 says:

              Clearing can now take up to 45 days, compared to up to 20 days previously, a manager at a Shanghai-based trading company said. He added that his company would buy more from Indonesia and Russia instead.

              According to an earlier report, Chinese authorities started imposing monthly restrictions in mid-November 2018 to support local coal prices and curtail oversupply [Gail’s emphasis], which has caused delays in customs clearances for Australian coal.

              This was what I thought was the problem: low coal prices in China.

      • Chrome Mags says:

        PG&E in California, temporarily cripples its energy system by shutting down the grid in large regions when wind is forecast due to risk of being liable for more fire damage from downed lines, not from the addition of renewables.

        In fact, we are in the process of having a Generac 20KW installed. The electrical goes in on Tuesday. We’re getting a 500 gallon propane tank so we’ll have power for about 7-10 days in the event of a long outage, but most outages are 2-3 days. We run our businesses out of our house we call an industrial complex, so it’s important for us to be able to keep operating.

        • Dennis L. says:

          Perhaps I misunderstood the video, it was my impression that maintenance money or money in general was shifted to a renewable strategy. The issue with CA appears to be policies that don’t work, that poorly allocate capital. The real capital is gone, that was in part the homes, businesses destroyed and also the economic output that was not done due to loss of energy delivery.

          PG&E is now in its second bankruptcy, the first was secondary to trying to “trade” energy when there was a shortfall of renewable – as in rain and lack of hydro power. Some policy wonk decided Eron could solve the problems.

          Technical is very hard and not very social, if someone is wrong on a technical point, there is no way to come to a consensus, the easier way is to rid the group of the technical people. The meetings will feel better.

          Curious, 3 phase? That is a fairly substantial generator.

          .Dennis L.
          .

        • We don’t yet know what role renewable energy played in the fires. Certainly there was a budget item: renewable energy versus adequate maintenance of the grid.

          But there likely was also an issue of not adding enough transmission lines to the grid to support the additional intermittent energy. These long distance transmission lines would need to be built for peak loads, not average roads. If California took the easiest and cheapest route–that is, just dumped the intermittent electricity onto the grid–it may be directly causing the fires by adding to the “annealing” of aluminum wiring. Aluminum wiring is very easily overloaded. If it is overloaded, the wiring anneals, or stretches. It tends to cause fires when it stretches. Anneal happens at temperatures about 200F.

          Whether or not annealing caused this round of fires, it needs to be fixed before it causes fires in the future.

        • Robert Firth says:

          Let me get this straight. California adds a lot of “green” windmills, to feed renewable energy into the grid, and then finds it has to shut down the grid whenever the wind blows. Welcome to the Law of Unintended Consequences.

          • rilygtek says:

            Systems engineering isn’t as sexy and lucrative as banding together with the cronies in the renewable racket.

            What we need is Elon Musk to invent the windmills and hydro power. Solar is already done and one small resounding success of his. Indeed, this man and his ideas keep on delivering. Let’s not forget the epic hyper loop concept just keeps on keeping on churning out fast and cheap mass transportation to the masses. With another stroke of applying his genius for less than 10 minutes he singlehandedly invented underground rail transportation.

            Yup, we need more Elon.
            A Renewable Elon.

          • Actually, California adds much more solar than wind. The solar tends to cause grid problems about dinner time each evening because people want to eat when they get home from work, and the sun is already down.

      • This is a great presentation. Should be required listening for those working on wrecking the grid in California.

        • Artleads says:

          Shared the link and posted this elsewhere.

          I skipped about and didn’t hear the entire presentation. But what I heard fits into a narrative that it’s taken me a long time to pursue (on OFW). I don’t need convincing to believe that shutting down fossil fuel resources without having a realistic alternative is unwise. I also cannot be swayed from the notion that current land use and land development patterns are more causes of climate disruption than fossil fuels (that get deployed only as and to the degree that land use and development patterns dictate).

  3. mercurio says:

    https://phys.org/news/2019-12-scientists-cheaper-hydrogen-energy.html
    “The nanoscale interface fundamentally changes the property of these materials,” he says. “Our results show the nickel-iron catalyst can be as active as the platinum one for hydrogen generation.
    “At the moment in our fossil fuel economy, we have this huge incentive to move to a hydrogen economy so that we can be using hydrogen as a clean energy carrier which is abundant on Earth,” Prof Zhao says.

    “We’ve been talking about the hydrogen economy for ages, but this time it looks as though it’s really coming.”

    • Hubbs says:

      All of this “Eureka” science reminds me of the eternal search for Elvis.

    • Niko B says:

      Hydrogen is a fuel storage method that we need to find energy to produce it, it is not a fuel source. Luckily we have fusion reactors to do that.

      We now return you to reality……………………………………….

      • Duncan Idaho says:

        Hydrogen is incredibly leaky stuff.
        Plus, its isolation currently is a huge energy loser.
        Might be time to move on——.

        • rilygtek says:

          Either isolate it well, and spend money on insulation. Or pressurize it and spend money on pressure vessels.

          It surely sounds like a loser compared with petroleum products. Actually, no, loser is too weak. It is utterly intractable to use as a cheap energy storage system.

          Yes folks, it is time to face the music. The climax of this sh17-show was in the 70’s and now we are waiting for the end credits.

          Pack your sh17 folks, the show is over.

    • happtholidays says:

      Sigh. Hydrogen is not abundant on earth. Water is abundant. W are reaching limits on water without using it for hydrogen production. Breaking the covalant bonds to free hydrogen from water takes more power than what exists in the hydrogen produced. So just to start the raw energy needed for hydrogens use as a energy package makes it a energy sink not source. Thats before any of the infrastructure energy costs associated with it are added. Its a terrible energy package to invest in. “hydrogen economy” Is a lie begining to end.

      • you can join in the headbanging as much as you like

        but you’ll never convince the hydrogen crowd that it is just a battery

        only a couple a weeks ago I explained it in detail to someone who had been very senior in the oil business—it was like a lightbulb flashing over his head—I think he actually got it

        • Robert Firth says:

          Thank you, Norman and others, for so rapidly and effectively deconstructing this nonsense. So, hydrogen is “abundant” on earth? Hydrogen atoms, yes; molecular hydrogen, no: so this is a classic “bait and switch” play. And note that the researchers have not reduced the cost of producing hydrogen; they have merely made the electrodes cheaper. But the cost of hydrogen production is almost entirely the cost of the energy needed to separate it from water, so we are talking about at best a 5% reduction in production cost, and perhaps 2% in life cycle cost.

          By the way, the problem of effectively containing hydrogen was solved a century ago: you enclose it in cattle intestines, “goldbeaters’ skin”. Which dries out and rots in about 2 years. The R101, for example, sacrificed over one million cows. So a hydrogen economy would need vast herds of them. Anyone for cheap sirloin steak?

    • Ed says:

      Methanol is a liquid (1000 times denser than hydrogen gas). The Methanol Economy is a good book making the case foor methanol.

  4. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The world’s oldest central bank stands to be the most significant this month as it pioneers a shift away from negative interest rates.

    “Sweden was among the handful of economies that reduced key interest rates half a decade ago below zero. Now officials at the Riksbank — founded in 1668 — insist the policy has done its stimulus work, so their so-called repo rate can stop being negative.

    “That puts the rich Nordic country in the spotlight of global monetary policy as counterparts watch nervously to see how easy it is for the experiment of subzero rates to be unwound.”

    https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/the-most-momentous-rate-decision-this-month-isn-t-at-fed-or-ecb/45436152

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Sweden’s central bank is planning plans to create a pilot platform for a digital currency known as the e-krona.”

      https://cointelegraph.com/news/swedens-central-bank-to-partner-with-accenture-to-launch-e-krona

      • The article also says:

        The news comes against the backdrop of Switzerland, which is the homeland to the Crypto Valley Association, abruptly shutting down the idea of issuing a digital Swiss franc earlier today. As reported by Cointelegraph, the Federal Council concluded that a CBDC cannot meet expectations for payment efficiency, effective monetary policy, and a more stable financial system.

        • Robert Firth says:

          Gail, of course it can’t, as any competent IT person would tell you in five minutes. Most crypto currencies use a technology called “blockchain”, which has the interesting property that all transactions must be serialised; that is, performed one at a time. This is, of course, impossible to scale. So you can’t use your local ATM until the 100 million Chinese ahead of you in the queue have been served.

    • Rich Nordic country or “formerly rich Nordic country.”

      A shift from -2% to 0% is still a rise in interest rates. It is hard to see how it can be done.

  5. Harry McGibbs says:

    “America’s hottest oil-drilling regions—such as this one at the heart of the Permian Basin—are seeing their economies soften as shale producers slash spending, leading to emptier hotels, choosier employers and less overtime for workers.”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/shale-slowdown-takes-economic-toll-11576405800

    • Denial says:

      This is a story that I have been waiting to see….I am surprised that the permian did not crash sooner…..the debt levels there are very high….So many shifting stories hard to see through the b.s

    • I saw the WSJ article this morning on my phone, but I have pretty much been away from my computer since. We have all been wondering when this would happen. This is one chart the WSJ shows:

      Hotel prices in the Permian have especially fallen off. They have stopped rising in the Bakken. Fixed investment is down for what I believe is US total oil-and-gas fixed investment.

      It looks like the peak in private fixed investment was the 2nd quarter of 2018, and it has been drifting downward since. It is not nearly as far down as it was when oil price fell terribly low back in early 2016, however.

      According to the article:

      The slowdown is unusual because it hasn’t been driven by a sharp decline in crude prices, which have hovered around $57 a barrel this year. Rather, U.S. oil producers are paring growth and spending largely because many have struggled mightily to generate returns for shareholders and are facing tightening access to capital. Including reinvested dividends, a broad index of U.S. oil-and-gas companies’ share prices has fallen about 47% in the past three years as the S&P 500 index soared roughly 49%, according to FactSet.

      “Investors are playing a large role here, and that’s the biggest driver of this cycle,” said Chris Wright, chief executive of Denver-based Liberty Oilfield Services Inc., which specializes in hydraulic fracturing. Companies such as Liberty that provide services or parts to shale producers have been among the hardest-hit by the pullback.

  6. happtholidays says:

    Add the energy cost of millions of household generators and there poor efficiency compared to a fossil fuel power plant to the denominator of the EROI fraction and to the numerator of the carbon in atmosphere in California.

  7. Herbie R Ficklestein says:

    No recession in sight for BAU….we can all rest easy now…..they all agreed to meet AGAIN!
    How nice…sarcasm
    UN climate talks unravelling, face failure
    December 14, 2019 by Patrick Galey and Marlowe Hood
    https://m.phys.org/news/2019-12-climate-unravelling-failure.html
    The push for a strengthening of voluntary carbon cutting plans is led by small-island and least-developed states, along with the European Union.
    Ministers from this “high ambition coalition” have called out countries they see as blocking a consensus call for all countries to step up, notably the United States, Australia and Saudi Arabia.
    China and India, the world’s No. 1 and No. 4 carbon emitters, meanwhile, have made it clear they see no need to improve on their current emissions reduction plans, which run to 2030.
    These emerging giants have chosen instead to emphasise the historical responsibility of rich nations to lead the way and provide financing to poor countries.
    The COP 25 summit was also meant to finalise a chapter on carbon markets in the Paris rulebook, which goes into effect next year.
    But a complicated wrangle over how to structure markets, and deal with carbon credits left over from the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of 2020, have remained deadlocked, and may be punted to further talks next year.
    ‘Prove it’s worth it’
    The United States, which is leaving the landmark Paris climate deal next year, was accused of acting as a spoiler on a number of issues vital to climate-vulnerable nations.
    This included so-called “loss and damage” funding to help disaster-hit countries repair and rebuild.
    “The US has not come here in good faith,” said Harjeet Singh, climate lead with charity ActionAid.
    ‘Time for this process to prove that it is worth something’
    “They continue to block the world’s efforts to help people whose lives have been turned upside down by climate change.”
    Even if nations in Madrid snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and agree to implement their pledges, Earth is on course to warm more than 3C by 2100.
    “It is time for this process to prove that it is worth something,” said the delegation of Colombia.
    “If there was one time in the history when I would say governments fucked up, I would say today in Madrid, governments fucked up,” Adow said.

    “People across the world must rise to save the planet.”

    HAHAHa..SAVE the Planet!!! George Carlin laid it out best..

    Glad Greta is taking some time off….hope she learned a lesson from all her activism…

    • Tim Groves says:

      The conference was a remarkable success. Rousing speeches were made. Angry fingers were waved. And a good time was had by all.

      Indeed, the delegates enjoyed themselves so much that they reached a 100% consensus on one binding commitment: that they would all agree do another ten junkets in places all over the world before 2030 when, according to some of the grouchy one, the Big Party comes to an end.

      Harrison Ford flew in to attend. I can’t think why. Does Hollywood have a rota system for this kind of thing or did he come along to check out the famed COP Burger King cheeseburgers?

      • rilygtek says:

        Some celebs just seem to age poorly. I recall Harrison Ford in his heyday making it look easy. His performance in Blade Runner was fantastic. From that moment in he just went… Strange… Hollywood kind of strange.

        If he just got his ego in check and kept on acting instead of going off on a tangent fueled by his greed and self-importance. Sign, I guess talent does not imply wisdom in the land of plenty and opportunity.

    • Robert Firth says:

      Two cheers for BAU, as the conference ended as every sane person knew it would, with nothing achieved except an agreement to spew yet more CO2 into the atmosphere flying in private jets to yet more conferences.

      And Harjeet Singh accusing others of bad faith? One who has made a fat living out of climate change, funded by people a lot poorer than himself. And who lives in Delhi, capital of a country that has never done anything in good faith? It’s frightening what eco system lives under the “climate change” rock.

  8. MG says:

    Recently, calcium l-threonate caught my attention:

    “Recent studies show that threonate might have a physiological function. In the periphery, threonate has been linked to bone health. Threonate can prevent bone degradation by inhibiting osteoclast resorption from bone (He et al., 2005). Threonate also supports bone formation in two ways. One, it promotes calcium bioavailability, allowing for rapid absorption of calcium into the body (Wang et al., 2013). Two, threonate increases bone mineralization by inhibiting DHT-inducible dickkoppf-1 (DKK-1) expression. DKK-1 is an osteoblast inhibitory factor whose overexpression can negatively impact bone formation and density (Kwack et al., 2008, Kwack et al., 2010, Monroe et al., 2012).”

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0028390816302040

    “The uniqueness of BioCalth Calcmium L-Threonate is that its absorption rate is as high as 95%, which means more calcium goes right where you need it……in your bones. *”

    https://www.biocalth.com/products/biocalth-series/biocalth_calcium_l_threonate-caplets/

    • Tim Groves says:

      I hadn’t heard of calcium l-threonate before. It would be great if it does support bone formation, as osteoporosis is one of the biggest factors in ruining old people’s quality of life. Millions of seniors are literally one fall away from becoming bedridden.

      I introduced a book here a few month’s ago called The Magnesium Miracle. The author, Carolyn Dean, is insistent that we all eat plenty of calcium in our diets already and there is no need to supplement it, BUT that what we really lack is sufficient intake of the miraculous mineral magnesium. I’m taking her advice on this. I think Gail is into supplementing with magnesium as well.

      She is also not in favor of Vitamin D supplementation as it has some side affects. I’m ignoring her advice on this and gobbling down 400 IU of D a day, and even more in the winter.

      When I die, I expect to go out like Linus Pauling, well into my nineties, choking to death on a multi-vitamin. 🙂

      • MG says:

        Low dose vitamin D supplementation should not be a problem. Moreover, some food is fortified with vitamin D.

        “A daily dose of vitamin D 1000 IU should prevent very low vitamin D levels, and should be sufficient to help most aging adults get the benefit — whatever it may be — of vitamin D. Furthermore, vitamin D 1000 IU/day is highly unlikely to cause harm to most older adults.”

        https://betterhealthwhileaging.net/vitamin-d-healthy-aging-dose-faqs/

      • MG says:

        But some still advocate high dose vit. D supplementation with tests for vit. D levels being performed:

        https://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2019/11/as-we-see-it

      • DJ says:

        2 tablespoons cod liver oil year round, also two pills 1600IU between the equinoxes. I enjoy don’t having colds.

      • rilygtek says:

        Look; there is no silver bullet. Do your daily routines forming the exercise baseline and eat what you can source locally and don’t indulge yourself.

        Supplements: what a scam.

        Running on the treadmill: what a waste of time.

        “ They found that cyclists were 15 per cent less likely to die from any cause – and those who spent time on two wheels came off best, alongside swimmers, those who took part in racquet sports, and aerobics.

        No significant reduction of risk was found amongst those who participated in running or football.”

        https://www.cyclingweekly.com/fitness/cyclists-live-longer-asked-google-weve-got-answer-389628

        So straddle your steed of metal and crank those pedals.

        • Interesting! Back when I lived in relatively flat country, I rode a bicycle quite a bit. Here, it is quite hilly, there are few bike lanes, and no one watches out for bicyclists. So riding a bicycle can be a life-threatening experience.

          • rilygtek says:

            The Danes know a thing or two when it comes to organizing their society for accommodating bicycles.

        • Tim Groves says:

          Supplements: what a scam.

          You’ve obviously never experienced the Niacin Flush.

          Along with mortgages, life and property insurance, religion, and university education, there are an awful lot of supplement scams, certainly.

          However, you can add decades to your life and, more importantly, to your healthy active life by making sure you are taking in adequate nutrition. Billions of people aren’t doing that and they are getting sick as a result.

          A hundred years ago in the west people had a life expectancy in their fifties. Two hundred years ago it was in the forties. But now we can expect to live into our eighties. So we need all the nutritional help we can get, in addition to plenty of gentle exercise of course.

          • rilygtek says:

            Indeed, all those things should be interwoven into your fabric of life.

            Once it becomes clear, it is easy and obvious. A light discomfort out in the rice/potato fields and powering around yourself using a steed of carbon fiber reinforced plastic becomes second nature and quite enjoyable no matter the weather.

    • People seem to get calcium deposits in their arteries as well as their bone. One question I would have is whether this calcium really ends up in the right place. I am currently taking a small amount of calcium (as well as quite a bit of magnesium), so I could possibly substitute this variety of calcium for the current variety. But I don’t want much in total, because of artery issue.

  9. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Just when German factories appeared to be exiting a year-long slump that battered the country’s economy, the sector’s contraction has worsened again. IHS Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index for manufacturing unexpectedly fell to 43.4 in December, defying economists’ estimates that the number would pick up.”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-16/german-factory-slump-deepens-again-with-recovery-looking-elusive

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