Why a Great Reset Based on Green Energy Isn’t Possible

It seems like a reset of an economy should work like a reset of your computer: Turn it off and turn it back on again; most problems should be fixed. However, it doesn’t really work that way. Let’s look at a few of the misunderstandings that lead people to believe that the world economy can move to a Green Energy future.

[1] The economy isn’t really like a computer that can be switched on and off; it is more comparable to a human body that is dead, once it is switched off.

A computer is something that is made by humans. There is a beginning and an end to the process of making it. The computer works because energy in the form of electrical current flows through it. We can turn the electricity off and back on again. Somehow, almost like magic, software issues are resolved, and the system works better after the reset than before.

Even though the economy looks like something made by humans, it really is extremely different. In physics terms, it is a “dissipative structure.” It is able to “grow” only because of energy consumption, such as oil to power trucks and electricity to power machines.

The system is self-organizing in the sense that new businesses are formed based on the resources available and the apparent market for products made using these resources. Old businesses disappear when their products are no longer needed. Customers make decisions regarding what to buy based on their incomes, the amount of debt available to them, and the choice of goods available in the marketplace.

There are many other dissipative structures. Hurricanes and tornadoes are dissipative structures. So are stars. Plants and animals are dissipative structures. Ecosystems of all kinds are dissipative structures. All of these things grow for a time and eventually collapse. If their energy source is taken away, they fail quite quickly. The energy source for humans is food of various types; for plants it is generally sunlight.

Thinking that we can switch the economy off and on again comes close to assuming that we can resurrect human beings after they die. Perhaps this is possible in a religious sense. But assuming that we can do this with an economy requires a huge leap of faith.

[2] Economic growth has a definite pattern to it, rather than simply increasing without limit. 

Many people have developed models reflecting the fact that economic growth seems to come in waves or cycles. Ray Dalio shows a chart describing his view of the economic cycle in a preview to his upcoming book, The Changing World Order. Figure 1 is Dalio’s chart, with some annotations I have added in blue.

Figure 1. New World Order chart by Ray Dalio from an introduction to his theory called The Changing World Order. Annotations in blue added by Gail Tverberg.

Modelers of all kinds would like to think that there are no limits in this world. Actually, there are many limits. It is the fact that economies have to work around limits that leads to cycles such as these. Some examples of limits include inadequate arable land for a growing population, inability to fight off pathogens, and an energy supply that becomes excessively expensive to produce. Cycles can be expected to vary in steepness, both on the upside and the downside of the cycle.

The danger of ignoring these cycles is that researchers tend to create models of future economic growth and future energy consumption that are far out of sync with what really can be expected. Accurate models need to include at least some limited version of overshoot and collapse on a regular basis. Models of the future economy tend to be based on what politicians would like to believe will happen, rather than what actually can be expected to happen in the real world.

[3] Commodity prices behave differently at different stages of the economic cycle. During the second half of the economic cycle, it becomes difficult to keep commodity prices high enough for producers. 

There is a common belief that demand for energy products will always be high, because everyone knows we need energy. Thus, according to this belief, if we have the technology to extract fossil fuels, prices will eventually rise high enough that fossil fuel resources can easily be extracted. Many people have been concerned that we might “run out” of oil. They expect that oil prices will rise to compensate for the shortages. Thus, many people believe that in order to maintain adequate supply, we should be concerned about supplementing fossil fuels with nuclear power and renewable energy.

If we examine oil prices (Figure 2), it is apparent that, at least recently, this is not the way oil prices actually behave. Since the spike in oil prices in 2008, the big problem has been prices that fall too low for oil producers. At prices well below $100 per barrel, development of many new oil fields is not economic. Low oil prices are especially a problem in 2020 because travel restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic reduce oil demand (and prices) even below where they were previously.

Figure 2. Weekly average spot oil prices for Brent, based on data of the US Energy Information Administration.

Strangely enough, coal prices (Figure 3) seem to follow a very similar pattern to oil prices, even though coal is commonly believed to be available in huge supply, and oil is commonly believed to be in short supply.

Figure 3. Selected Spot Coal Prices, from BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy. Prices are annual averages. Price for China is Qinhuangdao spot price; price for US is Central Appalachian coal spot index; price for Europe is Northwest European marker price.

Comparing Figures 2 and 3, we see that prices for both oil and coal rose to a peak in 2008, then fell back sharply. The timing of this drop in prices corresponds with the “debt bust” in late 2008 that is shown in Figure 1.

Prices then rose to another peak in 2011, after several years of Quantitative Easing (QE). QE is intended to hold the cost of borrowing down, encouraging the use of more debt. This debt can be used by citizens to buy more goods made with coal and oil (such as cars and solar panels). Therefore, QE is a way to increase demand and thus help raise energy prices. In the 2011-2014 period, oil was able to maintain its price better than coal, perhaps because of its short supply. Once the United States discontinued its QE program in 2014, oil prices dropped like a rock (Figure 2).

Prices were very low in 2015 and 2016 for both coal and oil. China stimulated its economy, and prices for both coal and oil were able to rise again in 2017 and 2018. By 2019, prices for both oil and coal were falling again. Figure 2 shows that in 2020, oil prices have fallen again, as a result of demand destruction caused by pandemic shutdowns. Coal prices have also fallen in 2020, according to Trading Economics.

[4] The low prices since mid-2008 seem to be leading to both peak crude oil and peak coal. Crude oil production started falling in 2019 and can be expected to continue falling in 2020. Coal extraction seems likely to start falling in 2020.

In the previous section, I showed that crude oil and coal both have the same problem: Prices tend to be too low for producers to make a profit extracting them. For this reason, investment in new oil wells is being reduced, and unprofitable coal mines are being closed.

Figure 4 shows that world crude oil production has not grown much since 2004. In fact, OPEC’s production has not grown much since 2004, even though OPEC countries report high oil reserves so, in theory, they could pump more oil if they chose to.

Figure 4. World crude oil production (including condensate) based on data from BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy. Russia+ refers to the group Commonwealth of Independent States.

In total, BP data shows that world crude oil production fell by 582,000 barrels per day, comparing 2019 to 2018. This represents a drop of 2.0 million barrels per day in OPEC production, offset by smaller increases in production for the US, Canada, and Russia. Crude oil production is expected to fall further in 2020, because of low demand and prices.

Because of continued low coal prices, world coal production has been on a bumpy plateau since 2011. Prices seem to be even lower in 2020 than in 2019, putting further downward pressure on coal extraction in 2020.

Figure 5. World coal production based on data from BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy.

[5] Modelers missed the fact that fossil fuel extraction would disappear because of low prices, leaving nearly all reserves and other resources in the ground. Modelers instead assumed that renewables would always be an extension of a fossil fuel-powered system.

The thing that most people do not understand is that commodity prices are set by the laws of physics, so that supply and demand are in balance. Demand is really very close to “affordability.” If there is too much wage/wealth disparity, commodity prices tend to fall too low. In a globalized world, many workers earn only a few dollars a day. Because of their low wages, these low-paid workers cannot afford to purchase very much of the world’s goods and services. The use of robots tends to produce a similar result because robots can’t actually purchase goods and services made by the economy.

Thus, modelers looking at Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROI) for wind and for solar assumed that they would always be used inside of a fossil fuel powered system that could provide heavily subsidized balancing for their intermittent output. They made calculations as if intermittent electricity is equivalent to electricity that can be controlled to provide electricity when it is needed. Their calculations seemed to suggest that making wind and solar would be useful. The thing that was overlooked was that this was only possible within a system where other fuels would provide balancing at a very low cost.

[6] The same issue of low demand leading to low prices affects commodities of all kinds. As a result, many of the future resources that modelers count on, and that companies depend upon as the basis for borrowing, are unlikely to really be available.

Commodities of all kinds are being affected by low demand and low selling prices. The problem giving rise to low prices seems to be related to excessive specialization, excessive use of capital goods to replace labor, and excessive use of globalization. These issues are all related to the needs of a world economy that depends on a high level of technology. In such an economy, too much of the output of the economy goes to producing devices and to paying highly trained workers. Little is left for non-elite workers.

The low selling prices of commodities makes it impossible for employers to pay adequate wages to most of their workers. These low wages, in turn, feed through to the uprisings we have been seeing in the last couple of years. These uprisings are part of “Revolutions and Wars” mentioned in Figure 1. It is difficult to see how this problem will disappear without a major change in the “World Order,” mentioned in the same figure.

Because the problem of low commodity prices is widespread, our ability to produce electrical backup of all kinds, including the ability to make batteries, can be expected to become an increasing problem. Commodities, such as lithium, suffer from low prices, not unlike the low prices for coal and oil. These low prices lead to cutbacks in their production and local uprisings.

[7] On a stand-alone basis, intermittent renewables have very limited usefulness. Their true value is close to zero.

If electricity is only available when the sun is shining, or when the wind is blowing, industry cannot plan for its use. Its use must be limited to applications where intermittency doesn’t matter, such as pumping water for animals to drink or desalinating water. No one would attempt to smelt metals with intermittent electricity because the metals would set at the wrong time, if the intermittent electricity suddenly disappeared. No one would power an elevator with intermittent electricity, because a person could easily be trapped between floors. Homeowners would not use electricity to power refrigerators, because, as likely as not, the food would spoil when electricity was off for long periods. Traffic signals would work sometimes, but not always.

Lebanon is an example of a country whose electricity system works only intermittently. It is hard to imagine that any other country would want to imitate Lebanon. Lack of reliable electricity supply leads to protests in Lebanon.

[8] The true cost of wind and solar has been hidden from everyone, using subsidies whose total cost is hard to determine.

Each country has its own way of providing subsidies to renewables. Most countries give wind and solar the subsidy of “going first.” They are often given a fixed rate as well. Both of these are subsidies. In the US, other subsidies are buried in the tax system. Recently, there has been talk of using QE to help wind and solar providers lower their cost of borrowing.

Newspapers regularly report that the price of wind and solar is at “grid parity,” but this is not an apples to apples comparison. To be useful, electricity needs to be available when users need it. The cost of storage is far too high to allow us to store electricity for weeks and months at a time.

If we were to use intermittent electricity as a substitute for fossil fuels in general, we would need to use intermittent electricity to heat homes and offices in winter. Sunshine is abundant in the summer, but not in the winter. Without storage, solar panels cannot even be counted on to provide homeowners with heat for cooking dinner after the sun sets in the evening. An incredibly huge amount of storage would be needed to store heat from summer to winter.

China reports that it has $42 billion in unpaid clean energy subsidies, and this amount is getting larger each year. Countries are now becoming poorer and the taxes they are able to collect are lower. Their ability to subsidize a high cost, unreliable electricity system is disappearing.

[9] Wind, solar, and hydroelectric today only comprise a little under 10% of the world’s energy supply. 

We are deluding ourselves if we think we can get along on such a tiny total energy supply.

Figure 6. Hydroelectric, wind, and solar electricity as a percentage of world energy supply, based on BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy.

Few people understand what a small share of the world’s energy supply wind and solar provide today. The amounts shown in Figure 6 assume that the denominator is total energy (including oil, for example), not just electricity. In 2019, hydroelectric accounted for 6.4% of world energy supply. Wind accounted for 2.2%, and solar accounted for 1.1%. The three together amounted to 9.7% of the world’s energy supply.

None of these three energy types is suited to producing food. Oil is currently used for tilling fields, making herbicides and pesticides, and transporting refrigerated crops to market.

[10] Few people understand how important energy supply is for giving humans control over other species and pathogens.

Control over other species and pathogens has been a multistage effort. In recent years, this effort has involved antibiotics, antivirals and vaccines. Pasteurization became an important technique in the 1800s.

Humans’ control over other species started over 100,000 years ago, when humans learned to burn biomass for many uses, including cooking foods, scaring away predators, and burning down entire forests to improve their food supply. In my 2018 post, Supplemental energy puts humans in charge, I wrote about one proof of the importance of humans’ control of fire. In the lower layers of a cave in South Africa, big cats were in charge: There were no carbon deposits from fire and gnawed human bones were scattered around the cave. In the upper layers of the same cave, humans were clearly in charge. There were carbon deposits from fires, and bones of big cats that had been gnawed by humans were scattered around the cave.

We are dealing with COVID-19 now. Today’s hospitals are only possible thanks to a modern mix of energy supply. Drugs are very often made using oil. Personal protective equipment is made in factories around the world and shipped to where it is used, generally using oil for transport.

Conclusion

We do indeed appear to be headed for a Great Reset. There is little chance that Green Energy can play more than a small role, however. Leaders are often confused because of the erroneous modeling that has been done. Given that the world’s oil and coal supply seem to be declining in the near term, the chance that fossil fuel production will ever rise as high as assumptions made in the IPCC reports seems very slim.

It is true that some Green Energy devices may continue to operate for a time. But, as the world economy continues to head downhill, it will be increasingly difficult to make new renewable devices and to repair existing systems. Wholesale electricity prices can be expected to stay very low, leading to the need for continued subsidies for wind and solar.

Figure 1 indicates that we can expect more revolutions and wars at this stage in the cycle. At least part of this unrest will be related to low commodity prices and low wages. Globalization will tend to disappear. Keeping transmission lines repaired will become an increasing problem, as will many other tasks associated with keeping energy supplies available.

This entry was posted in Energy policy and tagged , , , , , by Gail Tverberg. Bookmark the permalink.

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.

2,335 thoughts on “Why a Great Reset Based on Green Energy Isn’t Possible

    • I can’t bring up the article for some reason right now.

      It is my understanding that there is a real question of what the “cutoff” for a positive test should be. Apparently, there is a magnification factor that needs to be applied to figure out whether the virus can be seen. The higher the number, the lower the virus load. A cutoff about 35 seems to be appropriate, but we don’t know for sure. Test results cut off a different levels, but generally use a higher magnification level than 35. Thus, they may tend to give false positives after the illness is no longer transmissible. But we are not really certain.

      • It is a little lower number—
        Around 25 for infection transfer.
        35 is a very low viral load.
        PCR for testing is overkill.

          • PCR kits are incredibly reliable.

            But we don’t need them to be that accurate.
            A simple test, inexpensive, and done by the person alone is what is needed.
            If you are able to transmit, you can be easily tested.
            If you have the intention span, here is a good explanation:
            TWiV 640: Test often, fast turnaround, with Michael Mina
            https://www.microbe.tv/twiv/twiv-640/

            • When I went to TWiV 640, the notes gave a link to this paper about sensitivity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7314112/pdf/ciaa619.pdf

              To Interpret the SARS-CoV-2 Test, Consider the Cycle Threshold Value
              Michael R Tom and Michael J Mina

              From my reading of the paper, they are arguing that a cutoff of 40 cycles for a negative test rest is too high. Instead, the cutoff should be >34.

              You mentioned earlier that perhaps the threshold should be as low as 25. It sounds like there is a lot of work to be done in this regard. We are very good at finding tiny pieces if what used to be viable virus, but good at telling whether the virus can still transmit to another person. There is a high cost associated with not knowing. Isolating people who don’t need to be isolated is expensive. If they can’t work online, they likely cannot go back to work, for example. On the other hand, putting people who are really infecious in a nursing home is a recipe for disaster.

      • Kary Mullis: “The vice of the PCR is that it can find the biochemical equivalent of the needle in the haystack. Viral fragments that are present only in minute quantities can be amplified and identified, but this tells us nothing about whether replicating virus is present in sufficient quantities to do harm.”

        (85.) Thomas, C., Mullis, K. B., Ellison, B. J., and Johnson, P. 1993. Why there is still an HIV controversy. Unpublished manuscript.
        https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Genetic+determinism+as+a+failing+paradigm+in+biology+and+medicine%3a…-a0104681129

        [I had come across this quote elsewhere, but this was the closest I got to the source with limited searching.]

  1. Unlike Duncan, I don’t claim to know much about virology. But I know someone who does—Dr. Mercola, who writes that the Common Cold Can Trigger a Positive COVID-19 Antibody Test:

    Right now, there are three types of COVID-19 tests:

    Molecular — Also known as a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, this test detects whether genetic material of the virus is present in the sample collected from your throat or sputum (the back of your sinuses)
    Antigen — This test, sometimes referred to as “rapid test,” detects viral proteins
    Antibody — Also known as a serology test, it detects the presence of antibodies in your blood
    The first two, molecular and antigen, are so-called “viral tests” that detect active infections, whereas the antibody test will tell you if you’ve developed antibodies in response to a previous coronavirus infection. It typically takes your body one to three weeks after an infection clears to start making antibodies against the virus in question.

    Each of these COVID-19 tests have their issues and controversies. The problem with antibody testing is that there are seven different coronaviruses known to cause respiratory illness in humans.2 Four of them cause symptoms associated with the common cold:

    229E
    NL63
    OC43
    HKU1
    In addition to the common cold, OC43 and HKU1 — two of the most commonly encountered betacoronaviruses3 — are also known to cause bronchitis, acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia in all age groups.4 The other three human coronaviruses — which are capable of causing more serious respiratory illness — are:

    SARS-CoV
    MERS-CoV
    SARS-CoV-2
    The tricky part is that the antibodies created by these different coronaviruses appear very similar, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admits recovering from the common cold can trigger a positive antibody test for COVID-19, even if you were never infected with SARS-CoV-2 specifically.

    More here;
    https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/07/joseph-mercola/common-cold-may-trigger-positive-covid-19-antibody-test/

  2. Well Norman while i disagree with much of your political leanings I must admit you forecast this talk of election postponement. It reflects quite poorly on Trump regardless of his motives. People have had a taste of MMT now. They will demand it. Those that actually produce goods and services- not so much.

    • I agree that Norman forecast that talk.

      but it is all talk and no action.

      the election will be held on November 3.

      • JHK today:

        “The result would be an election that can’t be resolved even by the Supreme Court. What will happen then?
        I’ll tell you how it goes: Donald Trump will stand aside and yield to the military, to some general or committee of generals, and the country will be under martial law until the election is sorted out or re-run. And by then, the election may be the least of our problems, with tens of millions out-of-work, out-of-business, penniless, homeless, and hungry. That’s when they’ll truly be selling postcards of the hanging, as the old song goes. Then comes America’s Bonaparte moment. Yes, things can get that weird.”

        if the tens of millions of mail ballots can’t be counted accurately, then who knows?

      • I’ve said lots about the don, and election postponement.
        Contradicted myself a few times too–because the whole mess veers this way and that, nobody knows what might happen. Certainly not me..

        The don is the symptom, not the cause.
        We chose to burn oil and tell ourselves that consumption could be infinite. That was what threw up Trump. (and his hangers-on)

        If Biden gets in, he will offer common sense, on climate change, healthcare and so on, but the neckless masses will scream ‘socialism’, despite the fact that unrestrained capitalism has wrecked the country.

        The demand will be for BAU, which neither Biden or anyone else will be able to provide.
        So the overall slide will be ‘downhill’, and it will be seen as a problem that can be solved by political means. Another change of leader.

        The USA engaged itself in the fantasy of democracy for 200 years. It hasn’t worked.

        Time for something different. When Biden’s methods are seen not to work, it will be time to install another nutcase.

        Though It might just be that social collapse will come on Biden’s watch, he won’t be able to anything about it. The consensus of opinion has always been ‘mid 2020s’—I’ve said that lots of times, as have others.
        But the seeds of collapse were sown 100 years ago.

        So dispense with elections and install a dictator

        My ultimate forecast is that the USA will secede into several nation-states, for no better reason than it is too big to hold together without the cheap energy that created it.

        And each of them will spawn a petty dictator, grabbing what he can for himself and his clan—just like the present incumbent.

        • I think a big question is, “How long can the United States remain united?” We know that political systems tend to fall apart/be overthrown/lose wars as wage disparity becomes too big an issue. When the United States becomes less united, we can expect multiple top level governments, each with their own leader and their own currency.

          There is a similar question regarding the European Union and the government of China.

            • I suppose it is in a similar situation. It has had huge debt problems recently, and its electricity is always a problem.

              Also, India has multiple languages in different parts of the country. (China does as well, but a common written language binds most people together. Inner Mongolia seems to be one exception, with its vertically written language.)

              India tries to teach multiple languages in its schools, but it is difficult to do well, because there is only so much teaching time available and the teachers aren’t necessarily fluent in the various languages. There are even different alphabets for some of the languages.

          • A thought on the US separating. There is a huge and powerful vested interest in it remaining together – pensions of federal legislatures and high federal officials.
            Dennis L.

            • Dennis, I am not so sure. The accumulated phantom wealth of the “vested interests” is an excellent reason to liquidate them. And as for being powerful: they are powerful only as long as they are believed to be. The ancien regime in France seemed very powerful, until suddenly it wasn’t.

          • thanks

            I hadn’t picked up on that book will check it out

            Always reassuring to know that others think the same as me

          • This is a map of the Nine Nations of North America. It looks fairly accurate.

            I live in Atlanta, which is viewed as the capital of Dixie. Dixie has relatively more black citizens than other parts of the US. Atlanta is a transportation center, among other things.

            The Empty quarter is where a lot of the “renewable energy” is generated. Also, in the Breadbasket. But this electricity needs to be transported long distance to get to population centers. There are separate “Eastern” and “Western” electric grids. Also, a Texas Grid.

            • North America will not devolve quietly into peaceful regional nation-states

              wars of denial are inevitable, as ethno/political/god groups seek to prove their righteousness, while trying to grab sufficient energy resources to keep themselves alive.

              each region will possess what another must have, which was the driving force behind the European wars of the last 2000 years.
              The USA is now in the situation where the eternal rolling conflicts of Europe are taking root across what is currently America.
              They are the same peoples.
              Every warring nation in Europe was comforted by having god on their side.

              As the USA falls apart, every combatant will have the same conviction, and be prepared to kill to prove it.

              The American nation is declaring war on itself, now there isn’t enough to go round.
              The BLM movement is effectively an uprising because of that.

              the top 0.1% have creamed off the best of what there is, leaving the poor to make do with what’s left.
              the Senate has approved $750bn military spending, while millions are facing eviction and food shortages.

              That is what I mean by a nation declaring war on itself.
              Consuming scarce energy in order to make things that will ultimately be destroyed, and pay wages for ultimately doing nothing.
              And of course to enrich weapons makers while people starve.
              Making wartoys involves fewer and fewer people now. Much is automated. So the govt is paying robots instead of people.

              (That’s called diversion of resources)

              as the USA devolves into its nation states, it seems inevitable that its borders will be fluid and bloody. There is already an inclination to shoot at each other with very little provocation.

              Suppose that was elevated to border-legitimacy? Already there have been self-elected vigilante groups along the Mexican border. They will eagerly participate in other enterprises.

            • I agree that North America won’t devolve peacefully into regional nation-states. Energy resources are scattered around, for one thing. There will be too many people to support without today’s level of imports.

        • > The don is the symptom, not the cause.

          Yes. The cause is economic, the response is due to psychological traits that were selected in the stone age.

          Lots of people reject that they have any such psychological traits at all. A relatively easy to understand concept is https://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Capture-bonding Ever wondered where fraternity hazing or battered wife syndrome came from?

          I can’t fault people for not wanting to know about the evolved origins of humans. I find it depressing.

          • one of my favourite movies is Inherit the Wind

            where Tracy is cross examining Brady

            “4004 BC—etc etc—at 9am—would that be Eastern standard time or mountain time?’.

            Great stuff!!

            Anybody who hasn’t seen it should google it and watch that clip

            • > “4004 BC—etc etc—at 9am—would that be Eastern standard time or mountain time?’.

              Wherever it was banker’s hours. Nobody would expect God to follow workman hours. 🙂

          • there is a definite evolutionary link back to where captured females had the choice of becoming a breeder or breakfast

            • > there is a definite evolutionary link back to where captured females had the choice of becoming a breeder or breakfast

              Excellent. So you are one of the people who can account for the otherwise hard to understand behavior of Patty Hearst and Elizabeth Smart.

              The genetic model for how the psychological traits leading to wars were selected is more complicated. That model needs both Hamilton’s rule and the human trait of taking the young women of a defeated tribe as booty. Without going into detail, from the viewpoint of genes, the copies in the daughters of the defeated (and killed) warriors limit the downside (to genes) of losing a war. It was a fairly large selection advantage, 37% over half the tribe dying from starvation.

              It turned out that if a tribe went to war *without* facing 50% starvation that the selection was even stronger against going to war.

            • in trying to mentally deal with the behaviour patterns of humankind, you may have noticed that i generally try to use a collective context rather than try to deal with individuals.

              Hence I wouldn’t attempt to categorise Patty Hearst, or anyone else,

              Just seems to me that females were always prized trophies after battles, so over 000s of years there would seem to have been an evolutionary trait towards survival, so those who chose to serve breakfast (etc) to their captors passed their traits on.

              those who preferred to be breakfast didn’t.

              I doubt if that deterred said female from tipping breakfast over her captor’s head from time to time, once she’d taken over as boss. (twas ever thus)

              We all possess hundreds of characteristics that make us what we are. My observation is not to denigrate females in the slightest. Just saying the way things have evolved.

            • > in trying to mentally deal with the behaviour patterns of humankind, you may have noticed that i generally try to use a collective context rather than try to deal with individuals.

              > Hence I wouldn’t attempt to categorise Patty Hearst, or anyone else,

              Capture-bonding is a psychological trait that only applies to individuals. It was so intense and went on so long that the trait is close to universal in humans. Applies to males as well as females, though the selection happened almost exclusively in females. (Males were normally just killed.) I seldom quote the Bible, but there is a graphic account in the Book of Numbers, The Holy Bible, King James Version Chapter 31. verses 7-18.

              7: They warred against Mid’ian, as the LORD commanded Moses, and slew every male.
              8: They slew the kings of Mid’ian with the rest of their slain, Evi, Rekem, Zur,Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Mid’ian; and they also slew Balaam theson of Be’or with the sword.
              9: And the people of Israel took captive the women of Mid’ian and their little ones; and they took as booty all their cattle, their flocks, and all their goods.
              10:
              All their cities in the places where they dwelt, and all their encampments,they burned with fire,
              11:
              and took all the spoil and all the booty, both of man and of beast
              12:
              Then they brought the captives and the booty and the spoil to Moses, and to Elea’zar the priest, and to the congregation of the people of Israel, at the camp on the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho.
              13:
              Moses, and Elea’zar the priest, and all the leaders of the congregation, went forth to meet them outside the camp.
              14:
              And Moses was angry with the officers of the army, the commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds, who had come from service in the war.
              15:
              Moses said to them, “Have you let all the women live?”
              16:
              Behold, these caused the people of Israel, by the counsel of Balaam, to act treacherously against the LORD in the matter of Pe’or, and so the plague came among the congregation of the LORD.
              17:
              Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him.
              18:
              But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

              > Just seems to me that females were always prized trophies after battles, so over 000s of years there would seem to have been an evolutionary trait towards survival, so those who chose to serve breakfast (etc) to their captors passed their traits on.

              > those who preferred to be breakfast didn’t.

              Exactly.

              After figuring this out (some 15 years after John Tooby) I tried to account for a number of hard to understand human behaviors as partial activation of the capture-bonding mechanisms. I suspect that how to turn it on in a captive is also an evolved psychological trait. Thus army basic training (the bonding aspects) and fraternity hazing (bonding). I make a case that battered wife syndrome, as well as SMBD, are due to partial activation of the capture-bonding psychological mechanisms. These speculations are far less obvious than the basic trait, but until someone comes along with a better speculation, they seem to be a reasonable way to account for otherwise hard to understand human behavior.

              > I doubt if that deterred said female from tipping breakfast over her captor’s head from time to time, once she’d taken over as boss. (twas ever thus)

              > We all possess hundreds of characteristics that make us what we are. My observation is not to denigrate females in the slightest.

              It’s a trait in males as well even though the selection happened in females

              > Just saying the way things have evolved.

              Right.

              I don’t know how many of the readers of OFW are following this discussion, but you seem to have a solid grasp of the evolutionary selection process that made humans what they are. At least for this trait. The selection of the traits that lead to war is more complicated.

            • The book “Against the Grain” by James C. Scott makes the observation that male slaves were often kept to work on projects that were too physically demanding for men to volunteer for them. This would be heavy labor in mines, making roads, building bridges and the like. Mortality rates would be high.

              Women were kept as wives and household slaves, if I remember correctly. Scott thought that the death rate in childbirth was high enough that the population of young women needed to be replenished with young women gathered through conquest. Of course, inbreeding would be a problem if a population did not get some genetic diversity from outside. Adding captive women to the gene pool helped solve this problem.

              Young women in many countries have lived with marriages arranged by their parents. Being brought into a foreign land and taken into the home of an unknown man would not be all that different. Women (in some places, at least) were considered more or less like property. They we expected to do what they were told to do. If they couldn’t have children, some stories in the Bible indicate that this was a reason for divorce.

            • > The book “Against the Grain” by James C. Scott makes the observation that male slaves were often kept to work on projects that were too physically demanding for men to volunteer for them. This would be heavy labor in mines, making roads, building bridges and the like. Mortality rates would be high.

              My focus on the evolution of human psychological characteristics has mostly been in the stone age, hunter-gatherers. When you start talking roads and bridges it is both late and really complicated to figure out what was selected.

              Between the rise of agriculture and the rise of states, there was a long period where the males were seriously culled. It seems modern humans descended from those groups have about 17 times as many female ancestors as they do male ancestors. Some researchers from Stanford figured that the male lines were killing each other off.

              It’s really complicated and there is not much data. On the other hand, Gregory Clark has researched probated wills in the UK from around 1150 to 1800. Those show serious selection for the traits that make people well off.

              My other interest is in the singularity and what may come after.

            • I am not sure that the males would need to kill each other off to get this effect. If the women were most attracted to the “alpha male,” or if there were customs that allowed the alpha male to have multiple wives/concubines, this effect would take place. Many of us have read the story of Solomon and all of his wives and concubines. Peter Turchin remarks in Secular Cycles that limiting the number of wives a man can have, has the tendency to limit population. Without such a limit, the rich men tend to father a lot of children, with many different wives. The poor men have a hard time affording any wives.

              Back in hunter-gatherer times, most researchers think that there was more equality, so this shouldn’t happen. But I don’t know.

            • the alpha hunter gatherer would always attract the best breeding female—the ‘pride of lions’ if you like, because the female is conditioned to recognise the male who was most likely to give her offspring the best chance of survival

              crude and brutal, but that’s what nature is

              equality was never an issue

            • i try to strip concepts to single-sentence basics wherever possible.

              The female of our species is generally smarter than the male, as a survival trait from prehistoric times. Ignore the lady’s opinion at your (toldya so) peril.

              the female was always left with little ones to feed while knuckle dragging hubby went off and got himself eaten by something bigger and hungrier.

              the result of that?

              The female had to find high protein food that couldn’t run away. She couldn’t chase food and look after kids at the same time.
              best food: Shellfish. Which by chance is also best for brain function/growth.

              But shellfish needs a tool to get at it

              So the lady invents tools.

              Or make a fire in a clay hollow somewhere,
              After a while, the lady (sitting around waiting for hubby to get back) notices that water collects in the hollow after the fire has gone out,
              Digs out the hollow, finds clay has fired hard.

              Lady invents pottery.

              she wants to keep the kids warm.
              works out how to use a bone needle to stitch furs together.

              Food, –water –Warmth

              There you have the three pre requisites for the much of the progress of civilisation.

              ********

              Same happens now. Men go off and get themselves killed in the name of some god or other, while the women stay home and pick up the pieces and survive.

        • Biden will return the USA to the path of producing nothing and consuming Chinese goods. Coincidentally making himself and his son much richer with their millions of Chinese investments. At the same time massively increasing government debt. This path along with wanting war with Russia is the final steps in abuse of US dollar hegemony.
          Productivity, the ability to produce goods and services and a currency based on it is the first defense against tyranny. It puts the power in the hands of the people. The labels of communism capitalism this and that mean very little. They are propaganda tools. What matters is that people have a way of making a living that is honest and real.
          Whatever you label the democrats they are not good people. Their santimonius propaganda is not truthful. Their motives are only of power. They incite they do not unite.
          The current propaganda in regards to black citizens is a good example. The terrible violence of the black ghettos in democrat citys and a function of democrat policies. Instead of enabling blacks they institutionalize them with welfare. I grew up in one by the way.
          Until we understand that the path to peace and harmony with all brothers and sisters lies with accountability regardless of race or gender we are lost.
          Martin Luther kings great words I hope for a day where people are judged by their actions not their color is not worked towards by the ideas of white privilege etcetera. The democrats need supposed injustice to facilitate their power grab. They dont care about peace and harmony. Au contraire they need and want class differentiation and conflict.
          Trump is not my dream president. Ron Paul would be my dream president. A guy that has delivered hundreds of babies in the real world. What Biden stands for is a lie. What trump stands for is also a lie. The trump lie is far less repugnant to me. What we have witnessed is incredible. Four years of condeming trump as a racist bigot traitor . FROM DAY ONE. Literally.
          Seperation is not possible. The divide is largely urban vs rural not state vs state. Separation is also not allowed. Its been tried before if I remember correctly.
          Biden and his crowd are about as common sense as nasty drunk. They know only one thing to condemn others. I find trumps flaws which are numerous to be nothing in comparison. If the democrats could run a fair campaign based on respect and valuing harmony in our society i could look at their policies. Their actions show their disdain for harmony , their greed for power, and their despicable character.

          • you’ve missed the point entirely–though interesting to read.

            the problem is not poltical

            the problem is the availabilty of cheap surplus energy and the means by which it is put to use

            In the 20th c that was no problem

            in the 21st c that is our insoluble problem

            Billions of people are convinced they can vote prosperity into office. They can’t and never will

            • > the problem is the availability of cheap surplus energy

              I don’t understand “surplus” in this context. Would just “cheap energy” suffice?

              > and the means by which it is put to use

              Could you give a couple of examples? I don’t see any lack of machines, buildings, fertilizer plants, refineries, etc. to use energy.

              > In the 20th c that was no problem

              Ah . . . I think a case can be made that Germany lost WWII to the US partly on the basis of not having as much energy available. The US had lots of oil, the Germans were reduced to making liquid fuels out of coal.

              > in the 21st c that is our insoluble problem

              There are problems such as time travel into the past and faster than light travel which are probably not possible to solve.

              But for energy, we need to agree on what would be a solution before saying it can’t be solved. This engineering method is called “design to cost” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Design-to-cost or my version, https://htyp.org/design_to_cost which has been cluttered up with various side issues over the years.

              Let’s put numbers on it. Certainly, there is no lack of sunlight, the whole Earth intercepts a tiny fraction of the Sun’s output. It costs to collect it either on the ground or out in space, so how little would it have to cost for a particular proposal to be considered a solution?

              Energy cost is usually in cents per kWh. For hydrocarbon fuels, the US people see the cost at the pump as dollars per gallon. There is around 40 kWh in a (US) gallon of gasoline so we can use either one.

              Please state the cost ($/gallon or cents per kWh) where you would consider a proposal to be a solution.

              You may be right and the problem really has no solution, at least none that are currently within the state of the engineering art.

            • clarifying the point of surplus energy and cheap surplus energy—

              a poor man might gather firewood, and use it to heat his home and cook his food etc.
              his energy input to gather ‘cheap’ energy might take a lot of time.
              the energy is cheap but quickly consumed to provide ‘essential’ means of existence and survival.

              he also walks everywhere.

              on the other hand, the rich man can command resources to utilise ‘surplus’ energy in wood to construct a carriage, and all its trappings, use the surplus energy from the land to feed horses to pull the carriage.

              The rich man commands the use of ‘surplus’ energy and rides everywhere. The poor man doesn’t.

              It applies in every era:

              I can ‘command’ the use of a seat in an aircraft if I want to. My energy availability is both cheap (I have enough to live on) and ‘surplus’ (I can go where I want if I feel so inclined, within sensible reason) I don’t but that is my personal choice.
              I ‘command’ the use of my ‘personal carriage’ because I have energy available that is both cheap and surplus.
              My g-grandfather walked everywhere, I can move at 100mph if I feel stupid today.

              My nice ‘personal carriage’ is in fact the product of a century or two of personal enterprise of my forebears. I and my siblings and children got lucky in other words.
              Our homes are built and filled with the products of cheap surplus energy.—our ‘external machines’ were built (and consume) ultimately for that purpose. (ie to make our lives easier) And make it easier to consume ‘surpluses’.

              Sunlight alone will not do that. Meaningful Sun-energy isn’t fungible without an intermediary.

              The only other purpose they are used for is killing each other. Which is the alternative way of consuming surpluses. Shooting rockets off earth is doing the same thing. We pretend it isn’t.

              A man reduced to sleeping on a park bench isn’t in that situation.. His personal choice has been removed by lack of surplus energy. He ‘exists’ and no more. He is likely to die early.

              ****************

              The 20th c saw an explosion of humankind who live much as I do.—or aspire to.

              But to do that consumed the global ‘surplus energy’ available to all of us. I live to excess in world terms. This expensive mac computer is unnecessary ‘excess’. But I love it.

              We have now entered the 21st c where energy surpluses are in decline. (we burned it all)
              We delude ourselves otherwise. But we must continually consume surpluses to give ourselves employment and provide wages. That is now the conundrum of our existence. This is why UBI cannot work.

              Effectively, we demand ever-increasing wages in order to acquire ever-decreasing surpluses, .

              Politicians promise that this can go on forever. The laws of physics say it can’t.

              This is why chasing space-energy won’t work.

              To get hold of mars stuff requires declining surplus earth energy, not mathematical theories and computer graphics.
              Your academic credentials far exceed mine Keith, but to quote:

              ///”Design to cost is a management strategy and supporting methodologies to achieve an affordable product by treating target cost as an independent design parameter that needs to be achieved during the development of a product.///

              Forgive my saying so–but that is gobbledegook

              This post is too long already, without dissecting that.

  3. All of this extraordinary spending is pushing the national debt to astronomical levels. The gap between spending and revenue in June alone was $864 billion—nearly as large as the deficit for all of 2019. The
    Congressional Budget Office projects the 2020 deficit to be $3.7 trillion, and that’s without the current stimulus bill Congress is negotiating now. That national debt—the total amount Uncle Sam owes—is now $26.5 trillion, which is larger than the size of the entire U.S. economy
    https://finance.yahoo.com/news/another-stimulus-bill-wont-jump-start-the-economy-154751033.html

    ANY WAGERS on HIGH the Deficit can go before the wheels fall off and a financial collapse happens?
    Meanwhile in the land of OZ on Capital Hill proceed as debt doesn’t matter…per Dick Cheney because Ronald Reagan proved it so!🤢🤑

    Congress is poised to pass another stimulus bill that could inject $1.5 trillion or more into the economy. It won’t be enough to trigger a recovery.
    “Almost nothing the federal government can do from an economic standpoint is going to make it feel like we’re progressing into a recovery,” Shai Akabas, director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, says on the latest episode of the Yahoo Finance Electionomics podcast. “At best, unemployment is going to stay in the high single-digits, if not the double-digits, through November.”
    Most economists think another stimulus bill is necessary, to keep the unemployed above water, maintain a lifeline to struggling businesses, and help states and cities running way short on tax revenue. The problem is that no amount of stimulus spending will fully reopen businesses and coax consumers out of their homes as long as the coronavirus is rampant.

    Got Previous Metals. Food, Water, ECT…

    • “Congressional Budget Office projects the 2020 deficit to be $3.7 trillion, and that’s without the current stimulus bill Congress is negotiating now.”

      Wow! I’ve always wondered what the limit is for the country to borrow, especially with the astronomical level of borrowing recently, and that doesn’t even include the FED’s slight of hand conjured up trillions (QE, without the FED calling it that anymore) injected into the markets via paying off Corporate bad debt. We are racking up one heck of a bill! Sky’s the limit until something breaks.

    • I agree Herbie. Mission accomplished (by Fauci, Gates and their hunta-colleagues). As Gail has mentioned several times before, this virus is not going away, ergo we will have lockdowns to some extent ad infinitum. The economy is well and truly screwed, everywhere.

    • “ANY WAGERS on HIGH the Deficit can go before the wheels fall off and a financial collapse happens?”

      yes, I bet it gets to $40 or $50 trillion before The Collapse.

  4. “Tens of millions of Americans face financial devastation after losing access to emergency US$600 ($840) per week payments because Democrats and Republicans failed to agree on a new coronavirus relief deal.

    “The average unemployed worker will lose 61 per cent of their benefit, with laid-off workers in some states losing up to three quarters of their income, after the emergency payments expired at midnight on Friday.”

    https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/millions-in-us-face-financial-ruin-as-emergency-jobless-benefits-end-20200801-p55hiw.html

    • “One of the world’s major credit-rating companies fired a warning shot regarding the U.S.’s worsening public finances on Friday…

      “Fitch Ratings revised its outlook on the country’s credit score to negative from stable, citing a “deterioration in the U.S. public finances and the absence of a credible fiscal consolidation plan.”

      ““High fiscal deficits and debt were already on a rising medium-term path even before the onset of the huge economic shock precipitated by the coronavirus,” Fitch said. “They have started to erode the traditional credit strengths of the U.S.””

      https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-31/united-states-outlook-revised-to-negative-from-stable-by-fitch

      • “…the US currency has suffered its poorest monthly performance in 10 years… The 5 per cent drop in the value of the dollar in July might sound modest, but in the relatively stable foreign exchange market that counts as dramatic…

        ” old is soaring to record nominal highs as investors seek an alternative to the US currency. Some are openly asking, once again, whether US institutions are now too weak for the world to rely on the dollar.”

        https://www.ft.com/content/7c963379-10df-4314-9bd0-351ddcdc699e

        • the rise in the gold price is the barometer of global financial affairs.

          there is almost nowhere else to stash cash.

          all other productive commercial systems need the ongoing consumption of cheap surplus oil on a global scale on which to thrive (that includes us btw).

          That rate of use has now drastically slowed, which removes the value-support of our medium of exchange, — essentially paper money.
          Paper money is worth only what our collective belief says it is worth. We will hang on to that belief as long as supermarkets and petrol stations are full, and the majority of people have the means to buy what they need.

          If that belief evaporates then our commercial system is over, We are seeing that (and have seen it for a while now) in countries where the debt to GDP is rocketing out of control.

          Which is another way of saying that they are (in some way) borrowing from their future to support their present.

          The promise being, that in true Dickensian fashion, ‘something is bound to turn up’.

          Let’s hope it does.

        • Given the huge amount of support the Federal Reserve has been giving to try to keep the US economy afloat, it should not be a surprise that the dollar is falling. The support also isn’t really targeted very well, leading to some with much more cash, and many others out protesting regarding lack of income.

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