Economies won’t be able to recover after shutdowns

Citizens seem to be clamoring for shutdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19. There is one major difficulty, however. Once an economy has been shut down, it is extremely difficult for the economy to recover back to the level it had reached previously. In fact, the longer the shutdown lasts, the more critical the problem is likely to be. China can shut down its economy for two weeks over the Chinese New Year, each year, without much damage. But, if the outage is longer and more widespread, damaging effects are likely.

A major reason why economies around the world will have difficulty restarting is because the world economy was in very poor shape before COVID-19 hit; shutting down major parts of the economy for a time leads to even more people with low wages or without any job. It will be very difficult and time-consuming to replace the failed businesses that provided these jobs.

When an outbreak of COVID-19 hit, epidemiologists recommended social distancing approaches that seemed to be helpful back in 1918-1919. The issue, however, is that the world economy has changed. Social distancing rules have a much more adverse impact on today’s economy than on the economy of 100 years ago.

Governments that wanted to push back found themselves up against a wall of citizen expectations. A common belief, even among economists, was that any shutdown would be short, and the recovery would be V-shaped. False information (really propaganda) published by China tended to reinforce the expectation that shutdowns could truly be helpful. But if we look at the real situation, Chinese workers are finding themselves newly laid off as they attempt to return to work. This is leading to protests in the Hubei area.

My analysis indicates that now, in 2020, the world economy cannot withstand long shutdowns. One very serious problem is the fact that the prices of many commodities (including oil, copper and lithium) will fall far too low for producers, leading to disruption in supplies. Broken supply chains can be expected to lead to the loss of many products previously available. Ultimately, the world economy may be headed for collapse.

In this post, I explain some of the reasons for my concerns.

[1] An economy is a self-organizing system that can grow only under the right conditions. Removing a large number of businesses and the corresponding jobs for an extended shutdown will clearly have a detrimental effect on the economy. 

Figure 1. Chart by author, using photo of building toy “Leonardo Sticks,” with notes showing a few types of elements the world economy.

An economy is a self-organizing networked system that grows, under the right circumstances. I have attempted to give an idea of how this happens in Figure 1. This is an image of a child’s building toy. The growth of an economy is somewhat like building a structure with many layers using such a toy.

The precise makeup of the economy is constantly changing. New businesses are formed, and new consumers grow up and take jobs. Governments enact laws, partly to collect taxes, and partly to ensure fair treatment of all. Consumers decide which products to buy based on a combination of factors, including their level of wages, the prices being charged for the available goods, the availability of debt, and the interest rate on that debt. Resources of various kinds are used in producing goods and services.

At the same time, some deletions are taking place. Big businesses buy smaller businesses; some customers die or move away. Products that become obsolete are discontinued. The inside of the dome becomes hollow from the deletions.

If a large number of businesses are closed for an extended period, this will have many adverse impacts on the economy:

  • Fewer goods and services, in total, will be made for the economy during the period of the shutdown.
  • Many workers will be laid off, either temporarily or permanently. Goods and services will suddenly be less affordable for these former workers. Many will fall behind on their rent and other obligations.
  • The laid off workers will be unable to pay much in taxes. In the US, state and local governments will need to cut back the size of their programs to match lower revenue because they cannot borrow to offset the deficit.
  • If fewer goods and services are made, demand for commodities will fall. This will push the prices of commodities, such as oil and copper, very low.
  • Commodity producers, airlines and the travel industry are likely to head toward permanent contraction, further adding to layoffs.
  • Broken supply lines become problems. For example:
    • A lack of parts from China has led to the closing of many automobile factories around the world.
    • There is not enough cargo capacity on airplanes because much cargo was carried on passenger flights previously, and passenger flights have been cut back.

These adverse impacts become increasingly destabilizing for the economy, the longer the shutdowns go on. It is as if a huge number of deletions are made simultaneously in Figure 1. Temporary margins, such as storage of spare parts in warehouses, can provide only a temporary buffer. The remaining portions of the economy become less and less able to support themselves. If the economy was already in poor shape, the economy may collapse.

[2] The world economy was approaching resource limits even before the coronavirus epidemic appeared. This is not too different a situation than many earlier economies faced before they collapsed. Coronavirus pushes the world economy further toward collapse. 

Reaching resource limits is sometimes described as, “The population outgrew the carrying capacity of the land.” The group of people living in the area could not grow enough food and firewood using the resources available at the time (such as arable land, energy from the sun, draft animals, and technology of the day) for their expanding populations.

Collapses have been studied by many researchers. The book Secular Cycles by Peter Turchin and Sergey Nefedov analyze eight agricultural economies that collapsed. Figure 2 is a chart I prepared, based on my analysis of the economies described in that book:

Figure 2. Chart by author based on Turchin and Nefedov’s Secular Cycles.

Economies tend to grow for many years before the population becomes high enough that the carrying capacity of the land they occupy is approached. Once the carrying capacity is hit, they enter a stagflation stage, during which population and GDP growth slow. Growing debt becomes an issue, as do both wage and wealth disparity.

Eventually, a crisis period is reached. The problems of the stagflation period become worse (wage and wealth disparity; need for debt by those with inadequate income) during the crisis period. Changes tend to take place during the crisis period that lead to substantial drops in GDP and population. For example, we read about some economies entering into wars during the crisis period in the attempt to gain more land and other resources. We also read about economies being attacked from outside in their weakened state.

Also, during the crisis period, with the high level of wage and wealth disparity, it becomes increasingly difficult for governments to collect enough taxes. This problem can lead to governments being overthrown because of unhappiness with high taxes and wage disparity. In some cases, as in the 1991 collapse of the central government of the Soviet Union, the top level government simply collapses, leaving the next lower level of government.

Strangely enough, epidemics also seem to occur within collapse periods. The rising population leads to people living closer to each other, increasing the risk of transmission. People with low wages often find it increasingly difficult to eat an adequate diet. As a result, their immune systems easily succumb to new communicable diseases. Part of the collapse process is often the loss of a significant share of the population to a communicable disease.

Looking back at Figure 2, I believe that the current economic cycle started with the use of fossil fuels back in the 1800s. The world economy hit the stagflation period in the 1970s, when oil supply first became constrained. The Great Recession of 2008-2009 seems to be a marker for the beginning of the crisis period in the current cycle. If I am right in this assessment, the world economy is in the period in which we should expect crises, such as pandemics or wars, to occur.

The world was already pushing up against resource limits before all of the shutdowns took place. The shutdowns can be expected to push the world economy toward a more rapid decline in output per capita. They also appear to increase the likelihood that citizens will try to overthrow their governments, once the quarantine restrictions are removed.

[3] The carrying capacity of the world today is augmented by the world’s energy supply. A major issue since 2014 is that oil prices have been too low for oil producers. The coronavirus problem is pushing oil prices even lower yet.

Strangely enough, the world economy is facing a resource shortage problem, but it manifests itself as low commodity prices and excessive wage and wealth disparity.

Most economists have not figured out that economies are, in physics terms, dissipative structures. These are self-organizing systems that grow, at least for a time. Hurricanes (powered by energy from warm water) and ecosystems (powered by sunlight) are other examples of dissipative structures. Humans are dissipative structures, as well; we are powered by the energy content of foods. Economies require energy for all of the processes that we associate with generating GDP, such as refining metals and transporting goods. Electricity is a form of energy.

Energy can be used to work around shortages of almost any kind of resource. For example, if fresh water is a problem, energy products can be used to build desalination plants. If lack of phosphate rocks is an issue for adequate fertilization, energy products can be used to extract these rocks from less accessible locations. If pollution is a problem, fossil fuels can be used to build so-called renewable energy devices such as wind turbines and solar panels, to try to reduce future CO2 pollution.

The growth in energy consumption correlates quite well with the growth of the world economy. In fact, increases in energy consumption seem to precede growth in GDP, suggesting that it is energy consumption growth that allows the growth of GDP.

Figure 3. World GDP Growth versus Energy Consumption Growth, based on data of 2018 BP Statistical Review of World Energy and GDP data in 2010$ amounts, from the World Bank.

The thing that economists tend to miss is the fact that extracting enough fossil fuels (or commodities of any type) is a two-sided price problem. Prices must be both:

  1. High enough for companies extracting the resources to make an after tax profit.
  2. Low enough for consumers to afford finished goods made with these resources.

Most economists believe that an inadequate supply of energy products will be marked by high prices. In fact, the situation seems to be almost “upside down” in a networked economy. Inadequate energy supplies seem to be marked by excessive wage and wealth disparity. This wage and wealth disparity leads to commodity prices that are too low for producers. Current WTI oil prices are about $20 per barrel, for example (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Daily spot price of West Texas Intermediate oil, based on EIA data.

The low-price commodity price issue is really an affordability problem. The many people with low wages cannot afford goods such as cars, homes with heating and air conditioning, and vacation travel. In fact, they may even have difficulty affording food. Spending by rich people does not make up for the shortfall in spending by the poor because the rich tend to spend their wealth differently. They tend to buy services such as tax planning and expensive private college educations for their children. These services require proportionately less commodity use than goods purchased by the poor.

The problem of low commodity prices becomes especially acute in countries that produce commodities for export. Producers find it difficult to pay workers adequate wages to live on. Also, governments are not able to collect enough taxes for the services workers expect, such as public transit. The combination is likely to lead to protests by citizens whenever the opportunity arises. Once shutdowns end, these countries are especially in danger of having their governments overthrown.

[4] There are limits to what governments and central banks can fix. 

Governments can give citizens checks so that they have enough funds to buy groceries. This may, indeed, keep the price of food products high enough for food producers. There may still be problems with broken supply lines, so there may still be shortages of some products. For example, if there are eggs but no egg cartons, there may be no eggs for sale in grocery stores.

Central banks can act as buyers for many kinds of assets such as bonds and even shares of stock. In this way, they can perhaps keep stock market prices reasonably high. If enough gimmicks are used, perhaps they can even keep the prices of homes and farms reasonably high.

Central banks can also keep interest rates paid by governments low. In fact, interest rates can even be negative, especially for the short term. Businesses whose profitability has been reduced and workers who have been laid off are likely to discover that their credit ratings have been downgraded. This is likely to lead to higher interest costs for these borrowers, even if interest rates for the most creditworthy are kept low.

One area where governments and central banks seem to be fairly helpless is with respect to low prices for commodities used by industry, such as oil, natural gas, coal, copper and lithium. These commodities are traded internationally, so it is not just their own producers that need to be propped up; the market intervention needs to affect the entire world market.

One approach to raising world commodity prices would be to buy up large quantities of the commodities and store them somewhere. This is impractical, because no one has adequate storage for the huge quantities involved.

Another approach for raising world commodity prices would be to try to raise worldwide demand for finished goods and services. (Making more finished goods and services will use more commodities, and thus will tend to raise commodity prices.) To do this, checks would somehow need to go to the many poor people in the world, including those in India, Bangladesh and Nigeria, allowing these people to buy cars, homes, and other finished goods. Sending out checks only to people in one’s own economy would not be sufficient. It is unlikely that the US or the European Union would undertake a task such as this.

A major problem after many people have been out of work for a quite a while is the fact that many of these people will be behind on their regular payments, such as rent and car payments. They will be in no mood to buy a new vehicle or a new cell phone, simply because they have been offered a check that covers groceries and not much more. They will remain in a mode of cutting back on purchases, not adding more. Demand for most kinds of goods will remain low.

This lack of demand will make it difficult for business to have enough sales to make it profitable to reopen at the level of output that they had previously. Thus, employment and sales are likely to remain depressed even after the economy seems to be reopening. China seems to be having this problem. The Wall Street Journal reports China Is Open for Business, but the Postcoronavirus Reboot Looks Slow and Rocky. It also reports, Another Shortage in China’s Virus-Hit Economy: Jobs for College Grads.

[5] There is a significant likelihood that the COVID-19 problem is not going away, even if economies can “bend the trend line” with respect to new cases.

Bending the trend line has to do with trying to keep hospitals and medical providers from being overwhelmed. It is likely to mean that herd immunity is built up slowly, making repeat outbreaks more likely. Thus, if social isolation is stopped, COVID-19 illnesses can be expected to revisit prior locations. We know that this has been an issue in the past. The Spanish Flu epidemic came in three waves, over the years 1918-1919. The second wave was the most deadly.

A recent study by members of the Harvard School of Public Health says that the COVID-19 epidemic may appear in waves until into 2022. In fact, it could be back on a seasonal basis thereafter. It also indicates that more than one period of social distancing is likely to be required:

“A single period of social distancing will not be sufficient to prevent critical care capacities from being overwhelmed by the COVID-19 epidemic, because under any scenario considered it leaves enough of the population susceptible that a rebound in transmission after the end of the period will lead to an epidemic that exceeds this capacity.”

Thus, even if the COVID-19 problem seems to be fixed in a few weeks, it likely will be back again within a few months. With this level of uncertainty, businesses will not be willing to set up new operations. They will not hire many additional employees. The retired population will not run out and buy more tickets on cruise ships for next year. In fact, citizens are likely to continue to be worried about airplane flights being a place for transmitting illnesses, making the longer term prospects for the airline industry less optimistic.

Conclusion 

The economy was already near the edge before COVID-19 hit. Wage and wealth disparity were big problems. Local populations of many areas objected to immigrants, fearing that the added population would reduce job opportunities for people who already lived there, among other things. As a result, many areas were experiencing protests because of unhappiness with the current economic situation.

The shutdowns temporarily cut back the protests, but they certainly do not fix the underlying situations. Instead, the shutdowns add to the number of people with very low wages or no income at all. The shutdowns also reduce the total quantity of goods and services available to purchase, regardless of how much money is added to the system. Many people will end up poorer, in some real sense.

As soon as the shutdowns end, it will be obvious that the world economy is in worse condition than it was before the shutdown. The longer the shutdowns last, the worse shape the world economy will be in. Thus, when businesses are restarted, we can expect even more protests and more divisive politics. Some governments may be overthrown, or they may collapse without being pushed. I fear that the world economy will be further down the road toward overall collapse.

 

 

 

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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4,744 Responses to Economies won’t be able to recover after shutdowns

  1. Fast Eddy says:

    THIS… IS PRICELESS!!!!!

    Our spaceship is now so ridiculously overloaded that we may have had to add a roof-rack and we still aren’t quite done yet.

    We still have a couple more items to pack, and we probably should have gotten them on sooner because they are going to require a lot of space. Since this is one of the later Apollo flights, you see, we also have to pack a dune buggy, otherwise known as a lunar rover.

    And the rovers, according to NASA, are a full ten feet long, just two feet less than the diameter of our craft.

    But not to worry – according to NASA, the rovers (pictured below) folded up to the size of a large suitcase. When released, they would just sort of magically unfold and snap into place, ready to roam the lunar terrain.

    • That’s one aspect of it, there are way more. While others extensively tested 2-3x smaller vehicle for crawling .5m deep craters and sharp rocks this one on the picture would have to be able navigate even more, which obviously by bad design can not. Moreover the overall concept of such joyrides is Hollywood silliness extraordinaire, why leverage the risk of getting stuck away from the module in the first place. Plus the little gem, as the surface is evidently fake, the granular properties of the surface are joke, it lacks more diverse fraction (sizes) of the material. Simply the movie set people were not instructed properly, they used only same loose fraction of dust and larger rocks, nothing in between. Which is easily provable on contemporary competing or all other later missions..

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Dave was smart — and Funny too! I am mourning Dave…

        Although there is a silver lining to this… if Dave was alive he’d beat my world record IQ of 700 (on a good day) with his 1000….

        And Guinness would take back my plaque… and the trophy 😦

        BTW – does Guinness Beer also own the World Record company?

        If it proves not to be the case that this space radiation “showstopper” is a new development, then I suppose that the only explanation that we are left with is that we did indeed have the technology to shield our astronauts from radiation back in the 1960s, but at some time during the last four decades, that technology was simply lost.

        What probably happened was that an overzealous night custodian simply threw the data away. The conversation around the NASA water cooler the next day probably went something like this: “Holy shit! Has anyone seen that folder that I left on my desk last night? It contained the only copy of the secret formula that I devised for building a weightless space radiation shield. It could be forty years or more before someone else can duplicate it! My ass is so fired!”

  2. Fast Eddy says:

    Norm – you asked…

    Part 3 is dedicated to answering :

    If the Mo..on landings were fa..ked, then one question that naturally arises is: why would any government go to such extreme lengths to mount such an elaborate ho…ax?

    http://centerforaninformedamerica.com/moondoggie-3/

  3. MG says:

    Let us hope a stronger virus than this one will come and eliminate the overpopulation of the human species.

    This thought will gradually become acceptable as it becomes clear that it is the resources per capita problem which the current coronavirus crises hides and which is the reason why the living conditions of the humans deteriorate.

    The living will envy the dead.

    • Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      I may have repeated this too much, but world population is still growing at +200,000 per day…

      the virus won’t reduce numbers, but the global lockdowns might disrupt food supplies enough to cause widespread famines…

      if not plague, then famine…

  4. Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    https://www.wired.com/story/the-asian-countries-that-beat-covid-19-have-to-do-it-again/

    “Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan had flattened the curve. Then travelers from the US and Europe began reimporting the virus.”

    if global travel continues, then this pattern will continue…

  5. Duncan Idaho says:

    Voting today?

    Even to our blind friends, it is obvious.

  6. NikoB says:

    Gail, I really have to say that the comments section has really slammed into a wall in the last two weeks. While i don’t mind the conspira c y stuff I can go to other sites for that when in the mood. However, having to scroll through pages of comments to get to the interesting ones is frustrating. Maybe some moderation is required. I also agree with a previous comment that anyone new looking at this site will think it is a loon fringe site. That isn’t fair to you considering the amazing work you do and for free at that.
    Niko

    • Z says:

      Niko and other members….those who deride the “Conspiracy Theorists”

      So let us examine this Covid 19 for a moment shall we?

      The same people, institutions, structures, who brought us outright false hoods about events such as 9/11 are the same people, institutions, structures, who are now bringing us the official story of Covid 19. How much do you trust them?

      Take a look at CDC guidelines: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvss/coronavirus/Alert-2-New-ICD-code-introduced-for-COVID-19-deaths.pdf

      If it is ASSUMED to have caused or contributed to death, then count it! LOL Gotta get those numbers UP!

      Why isn’t malaria a pandemic? Malaria is killing more people than Covid. What about heart disease….same thing.

      Why are animals being declared to have covid 19? Surely you know tigers at the Bronx Zoo tested positive, CNN/ABC said so.

      Why is it that the supposed deaths are occurring mostly amongst the elderly and already infirmed?

      Why is it that if this is a pandemic, those who are filming local hospitals show hardly anyone there?

      Why did CBS news in New York show the American people supposed footage of an overwhelmed hospital in Italy, claiming it to be a New York hospital? Or how about CBS airing footage of a woman claiming to be a nurse working on the “front lines” that turned out to be totally false?

      Why does the NYC ICU Doctor think the treatment is wrong for those who do have whatever “this” is. Video below.

      Why does the Gates Foundation have investments into vaccines for corona viruses?

      What is Event 201, a literal simulation of a pandemic ocurring that took place in October 2019……just before this event started?

      Perhaps you all know in the NDAA 2012, President Obama legalized the use of Propaganda and Disinformation Campaigns to be utilized on the general public in the United States.

      Dr. Birx, confirming today anyone with COVID 19, regardless of other health issues, if they die, it is counted as COVID 19 death. How amazing!

      Yet everyone here believes this is real? How enlightened you all are.

      Keep believing in governments, banks, fairy tales, moon landings, and any thing coming out of the television.

      • Slow Paul says:

        It’s a real virus like the flu, but our response is just too much. Across the globe 150,000 people die each day on average of all sorts of causes.

        Kind of suspicious how all the western countries within days shut down everything in such a coordinated fashion though. I am not sure if this was for some reason orchestrated or just modern politics where you must follow the mainstream narrative and not think independently.

    • Kowalainen says:

      Yeah, Gail could use open thread posts for these fringe theories. Anyway it is all good, just crank up the filters to get rid of the noise.

    • VFataalis says:

      I couldn’t agree more.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      That’s priceless coming from you Niko. I am sure your stuff plays well with all your grade 3 fans – I don’t think anyone will notice if you exile yourself from OFW. Who is John Galt? Not you.

      Why don’t you try going on a hunger strike? We will cheer you on.

      • NikoB says:

        Eddy I don’t mind what you have to say on it all – at all. There is very much thought provoking info you have shared. The problem for me at the moment is that there is too much noise as it were happening in the comments and it seems to mostly focus on moon landings. Would just like to move on and continue our use of logic with energy and economic issues and the future we face. But I do acknowledge that trying to perceive what is real now is a huge task.

        PS. I do hunger strikes every now and then as it is great for your immune system.

        kind regards
        Niko

        • Fast Eddy says:

          The energy issues? Ok.

          We are out of cheap oil.

          Demand for what’s left has collapsed and all energy companies are now insolvent.

          The world is about to implode.

          The End.

          Do you really want to go to your grave not having read Dave’s magnetic opus? Niko – time is probably really short….

          Did I mention my mate in Bali told me earlier that robberies are off the charts cuz people are desperate…. people in the Phils are running out of food …. the mayhem is not far off…

          The mooooo-n ho—ax exposes the Matrix….

          Like Dave says in Essay 1 in the first few paragraphs.

          People do not want to believe this is a lie even though it so obviously IS — even if you SHOW THEM – because if they accept that such a massive story is actually no more true than the tooth fairy fable….

          It explodes their entire world…. if this can be false —- then anything can be false…

          Think about that — the landings are quite possibly the biggest thing to happen in the history of civilization … fire – the wheel – airplanes – cars – computers – this is BIGGER than all of those combined…. seek to go where no man has gone before – space the final frontier

          And 70 crates containing every single film and tape of every landing —- just happened to disappear.

          Come on Niko — get in there…. this is truly a life changing moment.

          Don’t end our existence cloaked in a massive MSM fueled LIE.

          Open your mind – open your eyes…… may your last words be:

  7. Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/11349914/france-coronavirus-worst-world-death-toll/

    “OUT OF CONTROL France suffers world’s highest daily coronavirus death toll of 1,417 as it becomes fourth country to pass 10,000″…

    • Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      the great French composer Berlioz:

      • Robert Firth says:

        The one with the famous “March to the Scaffold” (Marche au Supplice). Most appropriate.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      650,000 people die from the flu in a given year globally. This is a rounding error. Kinda like claiming Tesla is a major auto manufacturer

  8. Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    https://www.breitbart.com/health/2020/04/07/cdc-director-coronavirus-death-toll-will-be-much-much-much-lower-than-projected/

    “… those models that were done, they assume only about 50 percent of the American public would pay attention to the recommendations. In fact, what we’re seeing is a large majority of the American public are taking the social distancing recommendations to heart. And I think that’s the direct consequence of why you’re seeing the numbers are going to be much, much, much lower than would have been predicted by the models.”

    1. this is from the CDC who waited until April to finally decide that they should tell Americans that they all should be wearing masks in public…

    2. these much lower numbers which he’s talking about could be only in the so-called first wave…

    perhaps just delaying deaths until second wave third wave etc and not reducing the ultimate numbers…

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Or it could be that this is a total load of sh . it. and you are being suckered and made to look like a stooge.

  9. Fast Eddy says:

    The Van Allen Belts are not the problem rather:

    On June 24, 2005, NASA made this rather remarkable admission:

    “NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration calls for a return to the Moon as preparation for even longer journeys to Mars and beyond. But there’s a potential showstopper: radiation.

    Space beyond low-Earth orbit is awash with intense radiation from the Sun and from deep galactic sources such as supernovas …

    Finding a good shield is important.”
    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2005/24jun_electrostatics.htm

    You’re damn right finding a good shield is important!! Back in the 1960s, of course, we didn’t let a little thing like space radiation get in the way of us beating the Ruskies to the Moon. But now, I guess, being that we are more cultured and sophisticated, we want to do it the right way so we have to come up with some way of shielding our spaceships.

    As NASA notes, “the most common way to deal with radiation is simply to physically block it, as the thick concrete around a nuclear reactor does. But making spaceships from concrete is not an option.”

    Lead, which is considerably denser than concrete, is actually the preferred material to use for radiation shielding, but lead also isn’t very popular with spaceship designers.

    In fact, word on the street is that one of the main reasons the Soviets never made it to the Moon was because their scientists calculated that four feet of lead shielding would be required to protect their astronauts, and those same scientists apparently felt that spaceships wouldn’t fly all that well when clad in four feet of lead.

    Ok my little semi-DelusiSTANIS…. that’s enough for now … you digest that first…. then come back for more…. or if you feel up to crossing into RealitySTAN…. here’s the key http://centerforaninformedamerica.com/moondoggie/

    • Robert Firth says:

      I heartily recommend the articles collected in “Wagging the Moondoggie”. They are a gem of conspiracy theory selective quoting and special pleading. Take in small doses, as you would any other broad comedy act.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Hey Bob — since you are such a genius — and Dave is not hear to deal with you…

        Answer this.

        You can see the photos of the landing contraption. They used the SAME design for every landing.

        Yet in the later landings they have dune buggy sitting out front of the contraption.

        Did they strap the dune buggy to the roof of the contraption? It’s not exactly the size of a bicycle…. and I don’t think it would fit inside that contraption

        You can start with that.

        Then since you have identified so many fallible statements in Dave (The Genius) essays….. how about you post the ones you believe are claptrap and enlighten us with your genius by explaining how he has them wrong.

        You see BOB — or do you prefer BOBBY.

        You believe you have stepped into the ring with the heavyweight champ…. I do not care if you weigh 50 kg or are 80 years old – nobody forced you to try to get in here with me – I will tear your arguments to bits.

        Unfortunately…. I see no argument here. So actually – you are not even in the ring.

        It’s all in your mind Bob. You think you are being awesome. All that applause… it’s not real Bob.

        It’s just a youtube clip mate:

        Lash Mechanism imminent?????

        • Robert Firth says:

          I present no argument; none is necessary. The articles I referenced (and highly recommended, you may recall) speak for themselves. As they say, res ipsa loquitur.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            BOB- I’ve going to put you on Team Because … Norm is your captain

            ita sugit esse asinus

        • Robert Firth says:

          For those interested in the “moon buggy” hoax. The “contraption” did not fit inside the lunar module and was never intended to. It was housed in the Quadrant 1 bay, with the outer skin panel removed to allow some extra room. You can tell with the naked eye how it would fit. Of course, FE could have found this out for himself, if he had bothered to do a little research. But conspiracy theorists never do their own research; it might yield an embarrassing result.

        • hey—how come Mr Firth is suddenly getting all the flak that I usually get? I am bereft!

          You haven’t gone off me have you Eddy?

          And as a conversational exercise, anyone employing the term ‘mate’ in this context, (invariably to someone they’ve never met before), is always to be found leaning on a bar somewhere, a glass of something in one hand, and the other formed into a pointy finger,, while constantly repeating (variations of) his name (in shouty caps of course so that everyone hears) to give credence to some utterly fatuous diatribe.

          While everyone else in the bar looks the other way, giving silent thanks that it isn’t their turn tonight,

          a classic image the world over.

          If you happen to find yourself on an otherwise empty bus, (those big red things poor people ride on) you can guarantee the same guy will come and sit next to you, and start the same ‘argument’ as your ‘mate’.

          (btw, one of the prime laws of good writing—exclamation marks and shouty caps should never be used as a substitute for substance. They invariably expose a lack of it.)

          • Robert Firth says:

            Norman, I’m sorry to usurp your role as convenient whipping boy. Perhaps it was because I actually recommended the site FE was plagiarising, as an excellent example of conspiracy theory “reasoning”. Let’s have another example. Those moon photos don’t show any stars. But stars are so much brighter in the lunar sky, because the moon has no atmosphere! Which conveniently forgets that the Sun will be just as much brighter as the stars, for the same reason. Can you see (or photograph) the stars in Earth daylight? Then neither can you in lunar daylight.

            That’s how conspiracy theory reasoning works: state a true fact, draw a false conclusion, and conveniently omit the evidence that proves it false.

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