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.

2,650 thoughts on “Why a Great Reset Based on Green Energy Isn’t Possible

  1. A few items of interest in this weekend’s ‘i’ newspaper:

    “Rail Operators ‘effectively in public sector’ ” (public sector – means nationalised)
    https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/railways-public-sector-control-explained-nationalisation-department-for-transport-568501
    All the rail operators are currently funded by the UK govt,.£2.3 B since March. I cannot see how the rail operators can ever make a profit again. Anti-social distancing means they can never have enough passengers to make money. Oddly enough, a couple of weeks ago I got an email from Scotrail (the only rail company mainly operating in Scotland) telling me not to travel by train unless essential.

    “Swinney (education politician) reassures teachers as they voice anxiety over return to school”
    All children, primary and secondary (high) schools, are going back to school in Scotland, starting 12 th August. Looks the teachers / unions are not keen.

    “British Airways seeks £2.5bn from shareholders”
    Enough said.

    “Edinburgh Airport to cut third of its workforce”
    https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2020/08/edinburgh-airport-to-cut-third-of-its-workforce/
    Link is to the same news in ‘i’ but from ‘airportwatch’, that article contains more info.
    Edinburgh airport losing £3.5 / month, to reduce number of employees by a third, from 750 to 500. Staff to leave on 31 Oct. Given the huge fall in passenger numbers, I am surprised it is just a third. Presumably all airports will follow suit and lay off staff.

    “Dentists back in business but struggling to survive”
    https://inews.co.uk/inews-lifestyle/money/coronavirus-dentists-business-struggling-survive-565640
    UK dentists were allowed to re-open on 8 June.
    Dentists are operating at a lower capacity due to anti-social distancing regulations, causing financial issues. The one in the article, one third of pre-Covid levels. Difficult to see how they can make a profit. They are looking for more govt help.
    Private-clients-only practices get loans only, no grants.
    Supplies becoming more expensive.
    Dentists are not allowed to see another client for at least an hour after any drilling work.
    Only 50% of dental workers returned to work as of 12 July.

    End of furlough
    I cannot find the article now, but the beginning of the end of furlough in the UK started yesterday, 1st of August. This article on the BBC website explains the details.
    Coronavirus: What happens when the furlough scheme ends?
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/explainers-52135342

    Starting yesterday, employers have to start paying some of their employees salaries again, to be phased up to all of it by sometime in October. Presumably unemployment figures will now rise.

    • The UK and many other countries have benefitted from the furlough scheme, but it can’t go on endlessly. The US has “unemployment insurance,” but this is much smaller in quantity, varying by state. Independent contractors are generally left out.

  2. I am getting scared. Is this “The Collapse”? If so, how long will it take to see major decline, 1 year, 1 years?

  3. For those looking to hedge yourself against a loss in purchasing power in US dollars I still believe there is time to buy gold and silver but that that door is rapidly closing. Bullion dealers across the US are in short supply with sky high premiums and the US Mint just announced last week that they are only going to be putting out 1/2 of their normal supply going forward (12-18 months) due to social distancing requirements. They will only make gold coins or silver coins each day but they can no longer do both. Obviously this exacerbates supply issues and pushes prices even higher.

    The Comex is another developing story. I’ve never seen so many buyers of futures contracts stand for real physical delivery. Normally less than 1% of paper contracts ever stand to have the metals delivered but we’re clearly going into the Twilight Zone now. This also pushes big players who want to short the metal out of the market since they would be on the hook for physical delivery. Once force majeure happens I believe it’s going to send the price of gold/silver into the ionosphere and it might even have the potential of destabilizing the monetary system quite rapidly all by itself. Think about what just the ramifications are of an investment bank like Goldman Sachs putting out a $2300 price target of gold means considering their government ties and knowledge.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-31/gold-traders-issue-largest-delivery-notice-on-record-at-comex

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/goldman-sachs-now-expects-gold-to-reach-2300-an-ounce-2020-07-28

    Previous gold bull markets were brought to an end by bringing inflation rates up 20% or massive lies being told by the Federal Reserve making people believe QE was temporary or it could be unwound somehow. Rates at 3.1% a year ago seems so distant now and I loaded up on 5 year CD’s at the top as I saw the financial collapse happening long before the coronavirus entered the picture. Inflation rates will never go above 0 again unless the Federal Reserve stops buying bonds somehow, which I don’t believe they can ever stop doing. As the debt of the government and their balance sheet expands ever higher, a rise in interest rates would be akin to putting out a fire with gasoline. I expect them to expand one more QE wave before the election, probably in unison with equities attempting to revert to the mean.

    I still believe the best way to play this is through gold and silver mining stocks and options. Some of the stocks I own have doubled or tripled since April, providing returns far higher than the metals themselves or any other stock on the index for that matter. Stocks like PAAS, EQX, AEM, NEM, KL, and GFI have seen ridiculous gains with higher gold prices, even with reduced mining volumes from Covid shutdowns. I plan on riding the market as high as it will provide returns for and then when it starts dumping again en masse I’ll close my positions and buy more physical gold/silver with the profits. Obviously there might not be any gold/silver available at that time and I already own plenty to maintain my standard of living. I’m just taking advantage of the current situation to stack away more money in case we don’t have a full collapse somehow.

    I’m also hedged very hard against a downturn in the market by shorting individual companies that are for all intents and purposes bankrupt the instant the government tit is pulled away. Things like airlines, banks, and cruise ship companies should all be bankrupt and I don’t think the government is going to be able to hide the real damage for too much longer. Carnival Cruises isn’t even allowed to sail stateside until 2021 yet somehow they just keep being fed billions to burn through. Airlines are in a similar situation because airport traffic has hit a ceiling of about 25% of 2019 levels. United and American are both going to fire 10’s of thousands of people the moment October 1st happens. As for financial institutions I think European banks in particular are subject to collapse like Deutche Bank and HSBC with their Hong Kong exposure. Buckle up and get your popcorn ready, we ain’t seen nothing yet!

    • Things have a nasty habit of sneaking up. I have already mentioned a 19.8% price increase in Renogy 100 watt compact solar panels on Amazon two weeks ago. Mountain House, the gold standard for freeze dried food, had sold all its bundled 5+4+3+2= 14 day boxes on Amazon @ 9 months ago at the beginning of the COVID mess. I see no more 6 month or 1 year supply “mega packages” with 6 number 10 cans per box sold by the pallet.

      I see creeping substitution of starch for meat. Packages that used to be meat-based are now advertised as “Protein.” A closer look shows that they are substituting more plant-based protein, which admittedly if balanced can provide the essential amino acids and has positive aspects as animal protein is indeed more energy-intensive to produce, but is also indicative, as are higher food prices, of what lies ahead.

      The only price reversal I have seen is 1 gallon of milk going for $1.73 at Wal-Mart in Western NC, down from $1.97 several months earlier, but I wonder if this is due to the diversion from all the closed down commercial buyers and dumping by Borden and Dean foods who are going bankrupt. Dairy farmers were literally pouring the milk out of the truck into the storm ditches.

      Once the cows are culled and the surplus milk runs out, we might see a very sharp snapback increase in price.

    • Deutsche’s downfall has been coming for a few years now, but it seems to struggle on. Until it can’t.

      • I disagree. I called the top on interest rates and took advantage of it while I could buy parking cash at 3.1% rates. Rates are now at 0. How can anyone think central banks have lost control with equities at all time highs? Everyone will know when the Federal Reserve loses control but it’s definitely not right now. When stocks crash 50% and inflation starts going up 10% then I’ll concur they’ve lost control, but until then the party goes on.

      • I think I will go to the supermarket tomorrow and buy about $300 of groceries with one of my (hypothetical) one ounce gold coins.

        I suppose they will have to give me my $1,700 in change in cash, although a store credit would be okay.

        • I think you’d find they would not accept a gold coin as payment, anymore than they would accept a gold chain or diamond ring. You’d have to sell the gold to a gold dealer first.

        • Buy fractional gold of say 1/20 ounce or in grams….and also constitutional silver US coins of dimes and quarters pre 1964…

          • Gold coins are not legal tender. A silver dime is worth 10 cents in a grocery store. My point is that if you hold gold, you will have to convert it to local currency at the then prevailing rate in order to use it. You’re banking on it’s value holding up when all other asset values are collapsing. Maybe?

      • People in collapsing economies that have gold usually do better then others. Look to Venezuela. Gold has a long history as currency. Sure you can’t use it right now at your local store. But if they attempt a currency reset they will use gold to back it.

        But have plenty of backup food also.

  4. “China’s ‘dark fleet’ now targeting Sea of Japan:

    “It’s been a gruesome mystery for years: the wrecks of wooden boats crewed only by skeletons found adrift in the Sea of Japan.

    “But these ‘ghost ships’ have become a macabre spectre: More than 150 washed ashore last year alone…”

    https://www.ntnews.com.au/news/world/south-china-sea-chinas-dark-fleet-now-targeting-sea-of-japan/news-story/b7ebf685e6bcfc6725eeabdcaf59e70a?fbclid=IwAR1xpoLS_MgpujwcNRYXb0QxbRVI17ejjLpxK-lrgbpvOzpEklcDZFlvDIE

      • I hear all this and all that about cardiac damage. Yes MRI is a better test than ECHO for the heart but what exactly are the symptoms and findings? Enlarged ventricular size? Decreased thickness? Decreased ejection fraction? Hypokinesis? Valve damage/insufficiency/stenosis? Pericardial effusions? Compromised coronary circulation? etc. etc. And are these survivors being measured against age/sex/ matched controls ? Getting MRIs on asymptomatic people for baseline studies would involve a huge expense.
        This whole thing stinks to high heaven.

        • To clarify, get MRIs of thousands asymptomatic people BEFORE any of them catches COVID. Then analyze the changes in their MRIs and the natural hisotry of the disease, not by some analysis of “controls” To clarify, I’ve seen these “comparison” to “age matched controls” fudged. I want to see prospective, randomized, double blind studies, with Class I evidence.

          • since the underlying concern is the Covid-19 is being hyped to cover for economic downturns, other questions to raise about these studies is context with similar studies (or not) of other influenzas, and even the common cold. surely there must be other, similar studies by now, and their results published. what are the conclusions? the underlying conceit here is Covid-19 is somehow unique in producing these medical problems. there must be lots of “easy grant money” to be had now for such studies. where’s the honest and ethical treatment of context?

            • I think the issue is that we now have devices that can detect minor temporary heart inflammation problems. They don’t necessarily cause the person with them any problems. If they do, they are likely treatable. Or perhaps they will go away with time. The fact that we are beginning to understand the problem is helpful, because now we can figure our appropriate treatments for the problem.

              I know that when I have had my EKG taken, I have had some doctors indicate that the EKG is “abnormal.” When I asked about it, the doctor said, “It doesn’t really matter. It is the same as before. It was a little abnormal before. It is the same now. It has never caused any problem.” Maybe there is a little of this issue as well.

              Our machines are very, very sensitive.

            • sometimes, waiting for these studies and their media coverage to sort things out is like waiting for paint to dry. patience is not my long card.

              adding new technology to these studies can complicate matters. when they came up with advanced mass spectrometer analysis of water, even drinking water started to look like poison. recall the natural levels of benzene found in Perrier sparkling water? the question is how much is too much, and does it bioaccumulate? Is it safe to fill your car with gasoline (loaded with benzene)? I guess it’s gotten safer.

          • Exactly. The JAMA article commits the traditional logical fallacy of “post hoc ergo propter hoc”. The patients had heart problems after coronavirus. But did they have those same problems before the virus? Unless that is known and analysed, the JAMA article is just more gratuitous panic spreading.

        • It could be simply more fear spreading by those who will profit from the lockdowns and the magical vaccine – whether the vaccine is of any use or not. Its difficult the know what is really going on but i suspect this is largely a fear virus with the aim of getting as much control of populations as possible.

          This is well on the way as the state of victoria in australia has just imposed laws that enable police to seize property, arrest and/or fine any who object, suspend acts of parliament, have a curfew in the city. Most frightening, the power to extend these regulations if deemed necessary.
          https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-02/victoria-coronavirus-state-of-disaster-explained/12516570

    • I looked at the JAMA Cardiology article a bit more. The article is about heart impacts caused by COVID-19, on a group of 100 people who tested positive for COVID-19. Adverse heart impacts were found on 78 of the 100 people in the analysis.

      The timing of the analysis was after any lung issues were past and the patient had tested negative. The median length of time that had passed since the positive test result was 71 days, so a person would expect these people to be pretty much recovered.

      Regarding symptoms, the article says (regarding the 100):

      On the day of CMR [Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance] examination, direct questioning about symptoms revealed atypical chest pain (n = 17) and palpitations (n = 20). Compared with pre–COVID-19 status, 36 patients (36%) reported ongoing shortness of breath and general exhaustion, of whom 25 noted symptoms during less-than-ordinary daily activities, such as a household chore. Only 4 of 25 patients (16%) were previously hospitalized. No patient reported typical angina symptoms [chest pain, pain in arms, dizziness, shortness of breath] or a recent syncope [an episode of fainting from low blood flow to the brain].

      The researchers tried to figure out what was going on. According to the article, “Endomyocardial biopsy in patients with severe findings revealed active lymphocytic inflammation.” When I searched on “lymphocytic inflammation,” I discovered that the condition is, at least in some cases, treatable with steroids. So this may partly explain why steroids seem to be helpful in severe COVID-19 cases.

      The article also mentions “perimyocarditis.” I found an article called, “Good Prognosis for Pericarditis With Without Myocardial Involvement” by Imazio and others, written in 2013. The primary treatment seems to be aspirin or other NAISD. A study of 486 patients over 36 months showed over 90% got well with this treatment.

      So these conditions may be treatable, or may go away by themselves. But of course, we don’t know for sure at this point.

      It is disturbing that the article indicates that even the asymptomatic group seemed to have heart issues referred to as “cardiac inflammatory involvement.”

      One thought I had is that the cardiac inflammatory involvement condition may explain the large number of people in China who seemed to faint on the sidewalk. In fact, quite a few of them died. It is not clear to me that the version of COVID-19 we are seeing in the US is having as much of this problem.

      Another thought I had is, “I hope that vaccines do not provide this same kind of effect.” It seems like something researchers might want to consider.

      • Regarding the conclusion of the publication I have no idea. The problem with medical(even science) is a quote, “A minority of critical care practices with research published in high-profile journals were evaluated for reproducibility; less than half had reproducible effects.”
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5820784/

        The only certain method of determining damage to the heart would be a pre disease MRI of the heart and a post MRI of the same heart.

        Follow the money and one can get a good answer most of the time. In Texas a number of Covid deaths have been reclassified, hospitals were paid more for Covid cases. It was not a mistake, it was money, diagnosis have a standard code for insurance purposes, miscoding is fraud and that is plainly stated in insurance filing documents. Some or one coder was pressured, the boss should be prosecuted for medical billing fraud.

        https://www.theepochtimes.com/texas-state-health-department-corrects-death-toll-after-mistakenly-attributing-225-deaths-to-covid-19_3446709.html

        A number of years ago at UCSD there was a very well known MD who published an article a week(exaggeration), was held up us an outstanding physician. A number of years later an attempt was made to duplicate his research which involved some very serious care issues. His publications were made up, people lost their lives having been treated by his published methods.

        To become a professor at a major university in medicine it seems one needs an MD, a Ph. D, a law degree and also be an accomplished concert pianist. A number of years ago I knew such an individual, at a party with a very fine pianist as entertainment she was invited by this musician to sit down and give her interpretation of a piece of music. She sight read it and nailed it, physician at Mayo. I don’t believe she had a law degree however.

        If these abilities do not come naturally, there is great pressure to fudge. Too many elites, too few chairs at the table, Turchin writes about this.

        Dennis L.

      • So this may partly explain why steroids seem to be helpful in severe COVID-19 cases.
        Actually, in the second week of infection, the virus is almost gone, but one has a raging immune response, causing major damage to some.
        The steroids dampen this response.
        The second week is the most damaging, if you can avoid the shut down of circulatory system in the third.

  5. This is a 1.5 hour podcast from ADV Podcasts, called “The Floods in China Are Worse than You Think #31.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KL_Z8ZRs0yc

    Actually, it is about how things really work in China. It does talk a little about the floods, but about a lot of other things as well. The level of corruption is incredibly high. I saw some of this when I visited China. People don’t come with the same expectations that we have.

    • > The level of corruption is incredibly high.

      I *think* this would be subject to a technical solution. Something like a police body camera and an AI that watched for corrupt behavior.

      This would not fix corruption at the top, but the people at the top don’t want corruption lower down.

      • Corruption seems to be self-organized into the system. I am doubtful body cams would fix the situation.

        One example given in this video is of a guard taking a bribe from a thief (in the form of part of the goods stolen) to make certain that the output of the videocamera guarding the area mysteriously disappears during the time when it would show the thief in the output. I know that back in 2011, a Chinese tour guide told our group, “Don’t worry about your luggage being overweight for a local airline. I have “cousins” everywhere.” We were also told that bribes by the tour company were needed to get through locks on the Yangtze River in an expedient manner.

        The existence of the culture of corruption allows what appears to be very low wages for a wide range of occupations, including many governmental occupations. The workers “earn” the rest of their wages through bribes given to them by those who are somehow (often illegally) making more money than average. People who have high incomes, perhaps from accepting bribes, can use their higher incomes to get better services than others obtain.

        There are two different practices that allow this culture of corruption. One is the extremely widespread practice of gift giving. Gifts are expected, whenever people meet. The size and type of gift can vary. Food is one form of gift. I also received jewelry and other types of gifts from the Chinese. I know I was offered part of the “take,” if the department received a monetary award for an academic article I helped them write. I did help them with several articles, including two that likely led to monetary rewards, but I never accepted the monetary offer. I also didn’t ask that my name be put first on the articles.

        The second practice is that there are an awfully lot of payments in cash. I know that I received payments in cash for my services in China. The department that hired me paid me in cash. When other groups asked my to give a presentation, they paid for my services in cash. Also, when I bought souvenirs, there were times when the only type of payment that could be made was cash. With so many payments in cash, the government cannot collect taxes on these transactions. Citizens don’t want to fix this situation.

        • “With so many payments in cash, the government cannot collect taxes on these transactions. Citizens don’t want to fix this situation.”

          Sensible citizens! Hide as much as you can from the government; and not just the Chinese government, every government. At school we all learned about “Morton’s Fork”, the ruse by which Henry VII’s tax collector John Morton relieved people of their wealth, whether they had it or not. Of course I doubt that is taught nowadays. School children probably learn how Henry VII was a slave trader and kept a stable of dancing pygmies from Zaire. And refused to date trans women.

            • Anne of Cleves was large, big boned, swarthy, and ugly. A century later, she was dubbed “The Flanders Mare”, because the horses of Flanders (much prized as war chargers) were of similar build. Holbein’s portrait depicts her as female, but I suspect his portrait of Michael Jackson would have been similarly ambiguous.

              However, the theatre of the time boasted many “trans” actresses, because women were not allowed to act. A situation gently parodied in Episode 4 of “Adventurers Masters of Time”, which has one of the obviously female Adventurers complemented on how well she acts the part of a girl.

        • > Corruption seems to be self-organized into the system. I am doubtful body cams would fix the situation.

          I don’t know either, it’s just a proposal. Your thoughts on how it might go wrong are appreciated.

    • I have seen a few of their YT videos over the last few months, and your comment Gail “it is about how things really work in China” sums up their videos pretty well.

      Their videos go back quite a few years. Both the blokes lived there for 10-15 years teaching English, and are fluent in Mandarin, then they managed to make a living from posting videos on YT from their travels around China, and showing daily life.

      Both married a Chinese woman (I mention this because I have seen them labelled as being anti-Chinese) and had to leave China quickly about a year ago, the authorities were not happy with the content of their videos, because they tell like it is. Not allowed!

      Both now live in the USA hiding from the Chinese authorities, but still manage to post informative and interesting videos re China.

      • Thanks for the additional information. I didn’t know how to introduce the video. I saw earlier videos of theirs at the time of the virus outbreak in Wuhan.

  6. This is from June 15. I don’t think it was posted previously. From ConsciousnessOfSheep (UK). A pretty good summary of the situation we are in, but he does at one point optimistically refer to 10 years from now, ‘the next decade’:
    A rude awakening

    https://consciousnessofsheep.co.uk/2020/06/15/a-rude-awakening/

    “…For all the guff about a faster switch to renewable energy, the BP announcement [that its assumed longterm price for oil has been too high] is more grounded in the realities of the post-pandemic economy than the nonsense being spouted in the establishment media. What BP is actually saying is that the collapse in discretionary spending which is only now beginning will lead to a crisis of affordability across the economy which will render oil deposits which require a return of more than $50 per barrel uneconomical…”

    Good analogy here:

    “…Forget about your dreams of a green new deal or the establishment media versions of the happy-clappy “new normal” and think instead about an energy-constrained future; a bit like the oil shock in 1973 or the fuel protests in 2000 but with no “normal” to go back to…”

    The following bit I disagree with:

    “Having seen giant corporations queuing up for multi-billion pound state handouts apparently conjured out of the ether, the public is unlikely to buy the “we’re all in it together” BS that they fell for after 2008. This time around voters will insist on a combination of additional public spending and tax cuts which can only be bought at the cost of a massive reduction in the state itself.”

    Voters in the UK do not have a good track record of demanding anything and getting it.

    “…Prudent governments – both local and national – would take the opportunity of the pandemic to reassess the various spending commitments made prior to the lockdown and based on the assumption that economic growth would continue forever. High speed rail links, additional airport runways and new roads have no place in an economy whose demand for transport was falling long before SARS-CoV-2 arrived. Investment in more mundane – but essential – activities like keeping the lights on, providing clean water and ensuring there is enough food for everyone is going to be far more important.”

    All true, but as of this past weekend, the UK govt is still going ahead with its £100 Billion+ fast rail link (HS2) between London and Manchester/Leeds. Such hugely expensive projects should be cancelled, but clueless govts seem to like them.

    “Across the economy, things that seemed essential in February are going to be increasingly unaffordable luxuries in our energy-constrained future. Meanwhile many of the things we have been encouraged to think of as “essential” – continuous electricity and broadband, out of season and pre-prepared foods, multi-channel television, car ownership, etc. – will rapidly become the new luxuries.” [Mobile phones are not in the list. A few homeless people I have seen here in Aberdeen have nothing, except a mobile phone]

    Last paragraph:
    “It will be a rude awakening for all. But, ironically, those at the very bottom are better prepared than most for the shock that is coming. Those who have been forced to endure a decade of pin balling in and out of various under-paid, part-time, zero-hours and gig economy jobs, interspersed with periods on the wrong end of a toxic social security system have already given up many of the “luxuries” that the metropolitan liberal class still views as essential. The poor will suffer too, of course. As the price of food, clean water, heat and lighting increase there will be little if any income left over. But the big psychological shock will be to a middle class that rapidly finds that its employment is surplus to requirement and that everything it took as certain in life is collapsing around its ears.”

    • Your link is indeed to a very fine article by Tim Watkins. He writes about the situation in the UK. The situation in the US is only a little bit different.

      One point he makes is that governments will be squeezed. He feels this is likely to lead to rising taxes. I expect it will lead to a reduction of spending. (I am not as certain about the rising taxes.) For example, school may be online, simply because it is cheaper to do it this way. There will be no need for school busses, free breakfasts and lunches, and a school nurse anymore. In fact, online lessons can be sent out by just a handful of teachers. They can be on television, instead of over the Internet, to make them more accessible to students. There will be more and more disparity in educational results for students. Rich parents will pool together to hire a teacher to tutor a small group of students near their home. Poor parents will see their children get a much worse education.

      • There are still some constraints there, as we have been giving out meals despite childrens’ not attending school (they have set up drive-through pickups). Also, teachers’ unions still seem to hold a lot of power: in some cases refusing to go back to the classroom but also balking at working online.

        Teachers Are Wary of Returning to Class, and Online Instruction Too
        Unions are threatening to strike if classrooms reopen, but are also pushing to limit live remote teaching. Their demands will shape pandemic education.”
        https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/29/us/teacher-union-school-reopening-coronavirus.html

        Your larger point is correct, of course, but I think we also risk throwing good money after bad and paying effectively double (eg. the costs of homeschooling while also paying idle teachers, janitors, etc.). In my state, there is a patchwork of bad ideas. Some schools plan to physically operate one day per week, others four days per week. The worst of both worlds. I think that ends up being more in line with the Maximum Entropy Production Principle.

        • These teachers may be protesting themselves out of a future career.

          Remember Ronald Reagan and the air traffic controllers?

          Or Rupert Murdoch and the Fleet Street printers?

          If and when the tables turn and the pendulum swings back to right, this reluctance to do their job may provide a perfect pretext for firing public school teachers en masse and asking all who want to keep teaching to re-apply.

          • Most public schools find it nearly impossible to staff their schools with qualified teachers. If the teachers don’t show up, there really isn’t anyone that will replace them. Not like the air traffic controller situation at all.

            • What sane teacher would want to teach in a public school anyway? Unable to innovate, shacked to a ridiculous dumbed down “Common Core” curriculum, and faced with severe punishment if they ever fail a protected racial category of pupil or dare to discipline a feral teenager. The public schools should be abolished, and replaced by charter schools paid for by parents and staffed by those who love to teach. As Andrew Carnegie proposed over a century ago.

      • No education may be better than the indoctrination that passes as education in the western world today.

        And if a parent really cares about their child’s / children’s education , they could educate them themselves…

        Cheers,
        -GBV

        • GBV, of course you are correct, but the majority put great stock in their dysfunctional schools and will double-down in this case just as they have doubled-down over and over again for the last several decades of public-school decline.

  7. “Shares in Britain’s “big four” — HSBC Holdings Plc, Barclays Plc, Lloyds Banking Group Plc and the recently rebranded NatWest Group Plc — have all performed worse than their European peers this years. Lloyds and NatWest, the most exposed to the U.K. economy, have seen more than half of their market values wiped out, leaving them not far off the lows of the financial crisis.

    “Banco Santander SA, which runs Britain’s fifth-largest bank, last week wrote $7.2 billion off the value of its U.K. offshoot.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/britains-struggling-banks-show-the-uks-economic-weakness/2020/08/03/2891cc04-d559-11ea-a788-2ce86ce81129_story.html

    • “HSBC Holdings reported a 82% slump in second-quarter profit on Monday as it ratcheted up provisions for loan losses due to the coronavirus pandemic and warned of the fallout from mounting U.S.-China tensions…

      “The London headquartered bank expects provision for loan losses for the year to surge to between $8 billion and $13 billion. That would be the highest sum in a decade…”

      https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Finance/HSBC-profits-slump-82-as-bank-preps-for-loan-losses

          • The letters HSBC originate from “Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd.” Most of the bank’s business is China and Hong Kong related.

            HSBC is sometimes reported a “Europe’s Largest Bank by Assets.” I suppose this is worldwide assets, not those associated with Europe.

            According to an earlier article, big cutbacks in Europe and the US are planned, shifting more resources to Asia and the Middle East.

            I wonder who would bail out HSBC if it has problems.

        • One of the main issues seems to be, “the increasing support for zombie corporations to prevent national write-offs precludes other lending for economic benefit.”

          The author also says, “The collapse of the Eurosystem would bankrupt the PIGS, and possibly other member states, cutting off all monetary financing, and the “euro will be destroyed if, and when, the flawed Eurosystem falls apart.”

          I can see the pattern of lending to zombie corporation occurring in the US as well. With COVID-19, there are lots and lots of zombie corporations.

        • In other words, the centre is looting the periphery. Perhaps the one unequivocal sign of impending collapse.

  8. “…the coronavirus-related collapse in world tourism, which represents more than 10 per cent of global economic output, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, may well trigger the next stage of this crisis, in which we move from a public health emergency and mass unemployment to widespread insolvencies in myriad industries.”

    https://www.ft.com/content/2ddda9de-cd76-4969-a9dd-ce314fb6d38e

    • “The collapse in tourism as a result of the coronavirus pandemic has left a gaping hole in Turkey’s finances. Foreign investors have fled, pulling out almost $13bn from the country’s local-currency bonds and stocks over the past 12 months.

      “In the face of those outflows, the country has burnt through tens of billions of dollars of reserves this year in a bid to maintain an unofficial currency peg.”

      https://www.ft.com/content/cb70275f-8b7d-453c-9184-6d65815a8b10

      • “With no American visitors to show around the D-Day beaches or the Loire Valley’s chateaux, and no work on the immediate horizon, Paris tour guide Linda Zenou frets about how she’ll pay off a loan and continue to care for her ailing mother in the achingly lean months ahead.

        ““My situation is going to become completely inextricable,” she said. “We have nothing to live on.””

        https://www.france24.com/en/20200802-tourist-sites-are-empty-as-covid-19-travel-restrictions-limit-movement

        • “The latest update from the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) found travel restrictions during COVID-19 had seen a staggering 98 per cent drop in international tourist numbers in May, which translated to a loss of about 300 million tourists worldwide – and $448 billion in global tourism revenue.

          “That’s more than three times the loss felt during the 2009 global financial crisis…”

          https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/health-safety/coronavirus-pandemic-costs-global-tourism-industry-450-billion/news-story/4d835656817cb8bc518b1450a5016aee

          • This weekend just gone was one of the busiest I’ve had as a taxi driver in York. Lots and lots of tourists. None of them the international variety of course. Seems like the Brits are sensibly foregoing their fortnight in the Med for breaks in their own country.

            As I wrote once before, international tourism is a huge net loss for Britain i.e. we spend far more abroad than foreign tourists spend visiting here. Therefore a drop in international travel is a good thing for our balance of payments and might well benefit our local tourist industry.

            • Yorchichan, it’s noticeably busier up here on Islay. I’m seeing the odd car with foreign number plates but the vast bulk of current tourists are “staycationers”, who, anecdotally at least, do not spend as much as overseas tourists.

            • Same in Aviemore, the main tourist destination for the Highlands of Scotland. My sister says it is heaving. I am not surprised. If 80% of Brits who usually go abroad for a summer holiday are not this year, there is not the capacity for many of them in the Scottish Highlands. Many hotels still closed.

            • I expect people spend more in total when they travel, because they buy new clothes before they go. They buy souvenirs when they are away. So their spending affects both their home country and the country that they travel to.

    • Thanks 😌 for these on tourism..As everyone knows I live here in South Florida and the local media has had a few stories on the collapse of tourism and the resulting spike in related unemployment, business failures and dramatic drop in public revenue. This is all being overlooked by the Care Act and other Federal giveaways.
      The main news focus, day in and day out, is the Covid 19 epidemic, crime stories, and weather like the Hurricane storm that just past.
      Reality has yet to hit that this is the new normal. Tourism is NOT returning like it was, along with the money to pay for the jobs and revenue.
      Huge decrease in local revenue from Hotels and Airports.
      Read where Norwegian Cruise Lines won’t book for October and that means everything is on hold….during the winter season Airlines expect those cruises to bring people into the city on their planes.
      I see a panic crisis in the making…..
      Here is a link to an article of the same about countries hit hardest by Covid with tourism
      https://www.wtva.com/content/national/571991012.html?ref=012

      • The economies that are reported to have the highest percentage of tourism according to the World Council on Tourism are

        Mexico = 15.5%
        Spain = 14.3%
        Italy = 13.0%
        China = 11.3%
        Australia = 10.8%
        Germany = 9.1%
        United Kingdom = 9.0%
        United States = 8.6%
        France = 8.5%

        This ranking only lists big countries. We are left to guess regarding the impact on smaller countries, such as Greece, New Zealand and Bermuda.

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