We Need to Change Our COVID-19 Strategy

We would like to think that we can eliminate COVID-19, but doing so is far from certain. The medical system has not been successful in eliminating HIV/AIDS or influenza; the situation with COVID-19 may be similar.

We are discovering that people with COVID-19 are extremely hard to identify because a significant share of infections are very mild or completely without symptoms. Testing everyone to find the huge number of hidden cases cannot possibly work worldwide. As long as there is hidden COVID-19 elsewhere in the world, the benefit of identifying everyone with the illness in a particular area is limited. The disease simply bounces back, as soon as there is a reduction in containment efforts.

Figure 1. One-week average new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Israel, Spain, Belgium and Netherlands. Chart made using data as of August 8, 2020 using an Interactive Visualization available at https://91-divoc.com/pages/covid-visualization/ based on Johns Hopkins University CSSE database.

We are also discovering that efforts to contain what is essentially a hidden illness are very damaging to the world economy. Shutdowns in particular lead to many unemployed people and riots. Social distancing requirements can make investments unprofitable. Cutting off air flights leads to a huge loss of tourism and leaves farmers with the problem of how to get their fruit and vegetable crops picked without migrant workers. If COVID-19 is very widespread, contact tracing simply becomes an exercise in frustration.

Trying to identify the many asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 is surprisingly difficult. The cost is far higher than the cost of the testing devices.

At some point, we need to start lowering expectations regarding what can be done. The economy can protect a few members, but not everyone. Instead, emphasis should be on strengthening people’s immune systems. Surprisingly, there seems to be quite a bit that can be done. Higher vitamin D levels seem to be associated with fewer and less severe cases. Better diet, with more fruits and vegetables, is also likely to be helpful from an immunity point of view. Strangely enough, more close social contacts may also be helpful.

In the remainder of this post, I will explain a few pieces of the COVID-19 problem, together with my ideas for modifications to our current strategy.

Recent News About COVID-19 Has Been Disturbingly Bad


It is becoming increasingly clear that COVID-19 is likely to be here for quite some time. The World Health Organization’s director recently warned, “. . . there’s no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be.” A recent Wall Street Journal article is titled, “Early Coronavirus Vaccine Supplies Likely Won’t Be Enough for Everyone at High Risk.” This article relates only to US citizens at high risk. Needless to say, creating enough vaccine for both high and low risk individuals, around the world, is a long way away.

We are also hearing that vaccines may be far less than 100% effective; 50% effective would be considered sufficient at this time. Two doses are likely to be needed; in fact, elderly patients may need three doses. The vaccine may not work for obese individuals. We don’t yet know how long immunity from the vaccines will last; a new round of injections may be needed each year.

new report confirms that asymptomatic patients with COVID-19 are indeed able to spread the disease to others.

Furthermore, the financial sector is increasingly struggling with the adverse impact shutdowns are having on the economy. If it becomes necessary to completely “write off” the tourism industry, economies around the world will struggle with permanent job loss and debt defaults.

Shutdowns Don’t Work for Businesses and the Financial System 

There are many issues involved:

(a) Shutdowns tend to lead to huge job loss. Riots follow, as soon as people have a chance to express their unhappiness with the situation.

(b) If countries stop importing migrant workers, there is likely to be a major loss of fruits and vegetables that farmers have planted. No matter how much money is printed, it does not replace these lost fruits and vegetables.

(c) Manufacturing supply lines don’t work if raw materials and parts are not available when needed. Because of this, a shutdown in one part of the world tends to have a ripple effect around the world.

(d) Social distancing requirements for businesses are problematic because they lead to less efficient use of available space. Businesses can serve fewer customers, so total revenue is likely to fall. Employees may need to be laid off. Fixed costs, such as debt, become more difficult to pay, making defaults more likely.

Shutdowns cause a major problem for the economy, because, with many people out of the workforce, the total amount of finished goods and services produced by the economy falls. Broken supply lines and reduced efficiency tend to make the problem worse. World GDP is the total amount of goods and services produced. Thus, by definition, total world GDP is reduced by shutdowns.

Governments can institute benefit programs for citizens to try to redistribute what goods and services are available, but this will not fix the underlying problem of many fewer goods and services actually being produced. Citizens will find that some shelves in stores are empty, and that many airline seats are unavailable. They will find that some goods are still unaffordable, even with government subsidies.

Governments can try to give loans to businesses to help them through the financial problems caused by new rules, such as social distancing, but it is doubtful this approach will lead to new investment. For example, if social distancing requirements mean that new buildings and vehicles can only be used in an inefficient manner, there will be little incentive for businesses to invest in new buildings and vehicles, even if low-interest loans are available.

Furthermore, even if there might be opportunities for new, more efficient businesses to be added, the subsidization of old inefficient businesses operating at far below capacity will tend to crowd out these new businesses.

People of Many Ages Soon Become Unhappy with Shutdowns

Young people expect hands-on learning experiences at universities. They also expect to be able to meet possible future marriage partners in social settings. They become increasingly unhappy, as shutdowns drag on.

The elderly need to be protected from COVID-19, but they also need to be able to see their families. Without social interaction, their overall health tends to decline.

We Are Kidding Ourselves if We Think a Vaccine Will Make the Worldwide COVID-19 Problem Disappear

Finding a vaccine that works for 100% of the world’s population seems extremely unlikely. Even if we do find a vaccine or drug treatment that works, being able to extend this solution to poor countries around the world is likely to be a slow process.

If we look back historically, pretty much all of the improvement in the US crude death rate (number of deaths divided by total population) has come from conquering infectious diseases.

Figure 2. Crude mortality rates in the United States in chart from Trends in Infectious Disease Mortality in the United States During the 20th Century, Armstrong et al., JAMA, 1999.

The catch is that since 1960, there hasn’t been an improvement in infectious disease mortality in the United States, according to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Society. As progress has been made on some longstanding diseases such as hepatitis, new infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS have arisen. Also, the biggest category of infectious disease remaining is “influenza and pneumonia,” and little progress has been made in reducing its death rate in the United States. Figure 3 shows one chart from the article.

Figure 3. Mortality due to influenza or HIV/AIDS, in chart from Infectious Disease Mortality Trends in the United States, 1980-2014 by Hansen et al., JAMA, 2016.

With respect to HIV/AIDS, it took from the early 1980s until 1997 to start to get the mortality rate down through drugs. A suitable vaccine has not yet been created.

Furthermore, even when the US was able to reduce the mortality from HIV/AIDS, this ability did not immediately spread to poor areas of the world, such as Sub-Saharan Africa. In Figure 4, we can see the bulge in Sub-Saharan Africa’s crude death rates (where HIV/AIDS was prevalent), relative to death rates in India, where HIV/AIDS was less of a problem.

Figure 4. Crude death rates for Sub-Saharan Africa, India, the United States, and the World from 1960 through 2018, based on World Bank data.

While the medical system was able to start reducing the mortality of HIV/AIDS in the United States about 1996-1997 (Figure 3, above), a 2016 article says that it was still very prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2013. Major issues included difficulty patients had in traveling to health care sites and a lack of trained personnel to administer the medication. We can expect these issues to continue if a vaccine is developed for COVID-19, especially if the new vaccine requires more than one injection, every year.

Another example is polio. A vaccine for polio was developed in 1955; the disease was eliminated in the US and other high income countries in about the next 25 years. The disease has still not been eliminated worldwide, however. Poor countries tend to use an oral form of the vaccine that can be easily administered by anyone. The problem with this oral vaccine is that it uses live viruses which themselves can cause outbreaks of polio. Cases not caused by the vaccine are still found in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

These examples suggest that even if a vaccine or fairly effective treatment for COVID-19 is discovered, we are kidding ourselves if we think the treatment will quickly transfer around the world. To transfer around the world, it will need to be extremely inexpensive and easy to administer. Even with these characteristics, the eradication of COVID-19 is likely to take a decade or more, unless the virus somehow disappears on its own.

The fact that COVID-19 transmits easily by people who show no symptoms means that even if COVID-19 is eradicated from the high-income world, it can return from the developing world, unless a large share of people in these advanced countries are immune to the disease. We seem to be far from that situation now. Perhaps this will change in a few years, but we cannot count on widespread immunity any time soon.

Containment Efforts for a Disease with Many Hidden Carriers Is Likely to Be Vastly More Expensive than One in Which Infected People Are Easily Identifiable 

It is easy to misunderstand how expensive finding the many asymptomatic carriers of a disease is. The cost is far higher than the cost of the tests themselves, because the situation is quite different. If people have serious symptoms, they will want to stay home. They will want to give out the names of others, if they can see that doing so might prevent someone else from catching a serious illness.

We have the opposite situation, if we are trying to find people without symptoms, who might infect others. We need to:

  1. Identify all of these people who feel well but might infect others.
  2. Persuade these people who feel well to stay away from work or other activities.
  3. Somehow compensate these people for lost wages and perhaps extra living expenses, while they are in quarantine.
  4. Pay for all of the tests to find these individuals.
  5. Convince these well individuals to name those whom they have had contact with (often their friends), so that they can be tested and perhaps quarantined as well.

Perhaps a few draconian governments, such as China, can handle these problems by fiat, and not really compensate workers for being unable to work. In other countries, all of these costs are likely to be a problem. Because of inadequate compensation, exclusion from work is not likely to be well received. Quarantined people will not want to report which friends they have seen recently, if the friends are likely also to lose wages. In poor countries, the loss of income may mean the loss of the ability to feed a person’s family. 

Another issue is that “quick tests” are likely to be used for contact tracing, since “PCR tests,” which tend to be more accurate, often require a week or more for laboratory processing. Unfortunately, quick tests for COVID-19 are not very accurate. (Also a CNN report.) If there are a lot of “false positives,” many people may be needlessly taken out of work. If there are a lot of “false negatives,” all of this testing will still miss a lot of carriers of COVID-19.

A Major Benefit of Rising Energy Consumption Seems to Be Better Control Over Infectious Diseases and a Falling Crude Death Rate

I often write about how the world’s self-organizing economy works. The growth in the world’s energy consumption since the advent of fossil fuels has been extremely important.

Figure 5. World Energy Consumption by Source, based on Vaclav Smil estimates from Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospects, together with BP Statistical Data on 1965 and subsequent

The growth in world energy consumption coincided with a virtual explosion in human population.

Figure 6. World Population Growth Through History. Chart by SUSPS.

One of the ways that fossil fuel energy is helpful for population growth is through drugs to fight epidemics. Another way is by making modern sanitation easy. A third way is by ramping up food supplies, so that more people can be fed.

Economic shutdowns lead to reduced energy consumption, partly because energy prices tend to fall too low for producers. They cut back on production because of unprofitability.

Figure 7. Weekly average spot oil prices for Brent, based on data of the US Energy Information Administration.

Given this connection between energy supply and population, we should not be surprised if shutdowns tend to lead to an overall falling world population, even if COVID-19 by itself is expected to have a small mortality rate (perhaps 1% of those infected). Poor countries, especially, will find that laid off workers cannot afford adequate food supplies. This makes poor members of those economies more susceptible to diseases of many kinds and to starvation.

Epidemiologists Based Their Models on Diseases Which Are Easily Identifiable and Have High Mortality Rates

It is clear that an easily identifiable illness with a high mortality rate can be easily contained. A difficult-to-identify disease, which has a very low mortality rate for many segments of the population, is very different. Members of segments of the population who usually get only a light case of the disease are likely to become more and more unhappy as containment efforts drag on. Models based on very different types of pandemics are likely to be misleading.

We Need to Somehow Change Course

The message that has been disseminated has been, “With containment efforts plus vaccine, we can stop this disease.” In fact, this is unlikely for the foreseeable future. Continuing in the same direction that has not been working is a lot like banging one’s head against a wall. It cannot be expected to work.

Somehow, expectations need to be lowered regarding what containment efforts can do. The economy can perhaps protect a few high-risk people, but it cannot protect everyone. Unless COVID-19 stops by itself, a significant share of the world’s population can be expected to catch COVID-19. In fact, some people may get the disease multiple times over their lifetimes.

If we are forced to live with some level of COVID-19 (just as we are forced to live with some level of forest fires), we need to make this situation as painless as possible. For example,

  • We need to find ways to make COVID-19 as asymptomatic as possible by easy changes to diet and lifestyle.
  • We also need to find inexpensive treatments, especially ones that can be used outside of a hospital setting.
  • We need to keep the world economy operating as best as possible, if we want to stay away from a world population crash for as long as possible.

We cannot continue to post articles which seem to say that a spike in COVID-19 cases is necessarily “bad.” It is simply the way the situation has to be, if we don’t really have an effective way of containing the coronavirus. The fact that young adults build up immunity, at least for a while, needs to be viewed as a plus.

Some Ideas Regarding Looking at the Situation Differently 

(1) The Vitamin D Issue

There has been little publicity about the fact that people with higher vitamin D levels seem to have lighter cases of COVID-19. In fact, whole nations with higher vitamin D levels seem to have lower levels of deaths. Vitamin D strengthens the immune system. Sunlight raises vitamin D levels; fish liver oils and the flesh of fatty fishes also raise vitamin D levels.

Figure 8 shows cumulative deaths per million in a few low and high vitamin D level areas. The death rates are strikingly lower in the high vitamin D level countries.

Figure 8. COVID-19 deaths per million as of August 8, 2020 for selected countries, based on data from Johns Hopkins CSSE database.

The vitamin D issue may explain why dark skinned people (such as those from Southeast Asia and Africa) tend to get more severe cases of COVID-19 when they move to a low sunlight area such as the UK. Skin color is an adaptation to different levels of the sun’s rays in different parts of the world. People with darker skin color have more melanin in their skin. This makes the production of vitamin D less efficient, since equatorial regions receive more sunlight. The larger amount of melanin works well when dark-skinned people live in equatorial regions, but less well away from the equator. Vitamin D supplements might mitigate this difference.

It should be noted that the benefit of sunlight and vitamin D in protecting the immune system has long been known, especially with respect to flu-like diseases. In fact, the use of sunlight seems to have been helpful in mitigating the effects of the Spanish Flu outbreak in 1918-1919, over 100 years ago!

One concern might be whether increased sunlight raises the risk of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. I have not researched this extensively, but a 2016 study indicates that that sensible sun exposure, without getting sunburn, may decrease a person’s risk of melanoma, as well as provide protection against many other types of diseases. Non-melanoma skin cancers may increase, but the mortality risk of these skin cancers is very low. On balance, the study concludes that the public should be advised to work on getting blood levels of at least 30 ng/ml.

(2) Other Issues

Clearly, better health in general is helpful. Eating a diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables is helpful, as is getting plenty of exercise and sunshine. Losing weight will be helpful for many.

Having social contact with other people tends to be helpful for longevity in general. In fact, several studies indicate that church-goers tend to have better longevity than others. Churchgoers and those with many social contacts would seem to have more contact with microbes than others.

A recent article says, Common colds train the immune system to recognize COVID-19. Social distancing tends to eliminate common colds as well as COVID-19. Quite possibly social distancing is counterproductive, in terms of disease severity. Epidemiologists have likely never considered this issue, since they tend to consider only very brief social distancing requirements.

A person wonders how well the immune systems of elderly people who have been cut off from sharing microbes with others for months will work. Will these people now die when exposed to even very minor illnesses? Perhaps a slow transition is needed to bring families back into closer contact with their loved ones.

People’s immune systems can protect them from small influxes of viruses causing COVID-19, but not from large influxes of these viruses. Masks tend to protect against large influxes of the virus, and thus protect the wearer to a surprising extent. Models suggest that clear face shields also provide a considerable amount of this benefit. People with a high risk of very severe illness may want to wear both of these devices in settings they consider risky. Such a combination might protect them fairly well, even if others are not wearing masks.

Conclusions – What We Really Should Be Doing

Back at the time we first became aware of COVID-19, following the recommendations of epidemiologists probably made sense. Now that more information is unfolding, our approach to COVID-19 needs to change.

I have already laid out many of the things I think need to be done. One area that has been severely overlooked is raising vitamin D levels. This is being discussed in the medical literature, but it doesn’t seem to get into the popular press. Even though the connection is not 100% proven, and there are many details to be worked out, it would seem like people should start raising their vitamin D levels. There seems to be little problem with overdosing on vitamin D, except that sunburns are not good. Until we know more, a level of 30 ng/ml (equivalent to 75 nmol/L) might be a reasonable level to aim for. This is a little above the mean vitamin D level of Norway, Finland, and Denmark.

Social distancing requirements probably need to be phased out. A concern might be temporarily excessive patient loads for hospitals. Large group meetings may need to be limited for a time, until this problem can be overcome.

 

 

This entry was posted in Financial Implications 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.

2,353 thoughts on “We Need to Change Our COVID-19 Strategy

  1. I have reached BGE 259 and I have to concede that Lidia17 was quite right and that Nietzsche does equate will to power with will to life.

    In 259, he equates not only ‘life’ but explicitly WTL with WTP.

    ‘It will have to be the embodiment of will to power, it will want to grow, spread, grab, win dominance […] because it is alive, and because life is precisely will to power.’

    ‘it belongs to the essence of being alive as a fundamental organic function; it is a result of genuine will to power, which is just the will of life.’

    So yes, he does equate WTL with WTP but as WTP not simply as the drive for self-preservation – life itself is WTP – growth, consumption, domination. Lidia17 was quite right as to his sense.

    In which case, I am quite happy to say that democracy too and well-being for all are also WTP, though that is certainly not his gist.

    His idea seems to be that WTP is not simply an attendant circumstance to other motives, rather those other motives are WTP as organic life and its drives. Thus a fireman who saves a life saves an organism that is WTP and his act expresses a WTL that is WTP, a communal WTL/P.

    It seems to amount to saying that life has conditions and self-preservation cannot be abstracted from them as a simple, distinct drive apart from the others. It seems fair to say that no organism simply exists, it is always doing more than that in existing. – Living and the fulfilment of its conditions and drives are the same thing.

    His basic idea does not seem to be controversial, rather some of the lengths that he takes it to, and some of the conclusions that he draws from it.

    • I step on ants.

      often on purpose, but sometimes randomly I defer, which I’m sure is free will.

      Time, soon enough, will end me as quickly as every ant that ever lived, relative to this 13.7 billion year old universe.

      I’m tired.

      bAU tonight, maybe.

      • I am pretty comfortable with being an organism with organic drives and I do not see anything contemptible about that.

        I am happy to eat all manner of other organisms because that is what living things do – and no doubt other animals would be quite without pangs of conscience or self-doubt to eat me too. I guess that is my free will, if you want to call it that.

        Almost the entirety of England has been deforested to allow for agriculture and farming, though we trade most of our food from abroad these days.

        That is what humans do, the same as other species – we grow, we spread, we appropriate, we dominate, we consume and utilise, we assert ourselves and our own interests – because those are the organic functions that life depends on. Surely we have not lost touch with such a basic truth.

        Yes, ants too. They are a highly successful predatory and dominant species that divides labour and social function into castes. They work together to dominate the environment and to spread as much as possible.

        They are not looking for any pity about their size AFAIK and they will likely be around in their trillions long after we are gone. Perhaps they should pity us? lol

        > Ants form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organised colonies that may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals. Larger colonies consist of various castes of sterile, wingless females, most of which are workers (ergates), as well as soldiers (dinergates) and other specialised groups. Nearly all ant colonies also have some fertile males called “drones” (aner) and one or more fertile females called “queens” (gynes). The colonies are described as superorganisms because the ants appear to operate as a unified entity, collectively working together to support the colony.

        Ants have colonised almost every landmass on Earth. The only places lacking indigenous ants are Antarctica and a few remote or inhospitable islands. Ants thrive in most ecosystems and may form 15–25% of the terrestrial animal biomass. Their success in so many environments has been attributed to their social organisation and their ability to modify habitats, tap resources, and defend themselves…

        Ants occupy a wide range of ecological niches and exploit many different food resources as direct or indirect herbivores, predators and scavengers. Most ant species are omnivorous generalists, but a few are specialist feeders. Their ecological dominance is demonstrated by their biomass: ants are estimated to contribute 15–20 % (on average and nearly 25% in the tropics) of terrestrial animal biomass, exceeding that of the vertebrates…

        Some species (such as Tetramorium caespitum) attack and take over neighbouring ant colonies. Others are less expansionist, but just as aggressive; they invade colonies to steal eggs or larvae, which they either eat or raise as workers or slaves. Extreme specialists among these slave-raiding ants, such as the Amazon ants, are incapable of feeding themselves and need captured workers to survive…

        Ants identify kin and nestmates through their scent, which comes from hydrocarbon-laced secretions that coat their exoskeletons. If an ant is separated from its original colony, it will eventually lose the colony scent. Any ant that enters a colony without a matching scent will be attacked…

        A conflict between the sexes of a species is seen in some species of ants with these reproducers apparently competing to produce offspring that are as closely related to them as possible. The most extreme form involves the production of clonal offspring…

        Lemon ants make devil’s gardens by killing surrounding plants with their stings and leaving a pure patch of lemon ant trees, (Duroia hirsuta). This modification of the forest provides the ants with more nesting sites inside the stems of the Duroia trees…

        Most ants are predatory and some prey on and obtain food from other social insects including other ants. Some species specialise in preying on termites (Megaponera and Termitopone) while a few Cerapachyinae prey on other ants…

        Army ants forage in a wide roving column, attacking any animals in that path that are unable to escape… – wiki

        Ants are a fascinating subject in their own right, thanks for that.

        • For a real-life equivalent of Henry Pym–the genius scientist from Marvel Comics who invented shrinking / growing technology, human-ant communication, and an AI / von Neumann machine–was E.O. Wilson, who went from myrmecology to memetics and evolutionary psychology.

        • Interesting to augment ant collectives control systems into our ‘apes on gas’ collective. Hormonally mitigated dystopian harmony. Smell the popular aroma and turn into a popsicle.

        • Ants also practice agriculture and animal husbandry. and have done so sustainably,for a few hundred million years. Which makes them a lot better at living that a certain featherless biped.

          “Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways, and be wise.” (Proverbs vi:6)

      • I step on them in order to communicate with the hive mind. Say my wife sees ants crawling across the floor of the vestibule and complains. I step on 100 or 200 of them. They get the message and pick a different route.

        • A kettle of boiling water on their nest will do the trick.

          Now house flies, they really put the game into swatting. They fly around with their buzzing, begging out, ‘pls kill me, pls kill me’, swerving about at top speed with us thrashing at them.

          I find that a towel is the way to go with them when they settle, they cannot dodge them. Whack! But then one has to wash the towel and the surface, they are such a nuisance but it always ends worse for them.

    • Wouldn’t this increase the insect populations that prey on food? How would fertility of all of these gardens be kept up? Aren’t there a bunch of details that need to be thought through?

      Where I live, there are a lot of huge trees and the land is very hilly. There are rocks not far below he soil surface. It is possible to grow a few things, if a person can find an adequately sunny place to plant things.

    • I grow a lot of food in my garden and believe me its pretty hard work and time intensive. People who live this way are worn out by 50.

      • reminds me of JMG, who did his “intensive gardening” in his yard in Maryland until a few years ago, when he moved to an apartment in Providence RI.

        I thought he was just over age 50 then.

        I had a garden, and I can confirm the time and effort, actually too much work just for mere vegetables.

        I like the bAU setup, where I spend my money at supermarkets and get yummy food from many places often thousands of miles away.

        I doubt that anyone with a backyard garden can grow the ingredients for dark chocolate.

        • If you spent less time stepping on ants and more time plowing, hoeing, reaping and sowing, you might make a good vegetable gardener.

          My philosophy is: Because it’s a Hassle, Do It!

          Avoiding work and seeking comfort and convenience at any cost are two of the things that have brought humanity to its present quandary.

        • It’s a conceptual problem for you, clearly: hard work and returns of low value.

          A ‘mere vegetable’ is, for me, something of use, beauty, delight and – above all – unpoisoned. Currently, my mouth is still filled with the exquisite taste of a raspberry plucked from the bush while I was weeding half an hour ago.

          I can’t think of a better use of my time than producing these delights! And the weeding was no trouble at all, as I use a beautifully designed Dutch hoe, which is virtually a power tool, so easily does it do its job.

          • Yes, we have always maintained a vegetable garden, it is the easiest thing in the world, and one of the most natural and rewarding. The simple things in life have got a lot going for them. Not that one could economically maintain one’s lifestyle that way these days.

            Our culture tends to think of the peasant life as one of unmitigated oppression and poverty but I am sure that it had a lot going for it. Life has its own rewards. The sun, the breeze, the hills, the flowers, the birds, the streams, the family, the cows, the chickens, the sowing and the harvest – all good stuff.

    • You would have to recycle 100% of human waste to even approach such a scheme. I don’t think the health department will be keen on that.

      • Nate Hagens’ video that was posted here yesterday was good at explaining the stepwise, drawn out route that many survivable strategies would need to take. It’s clear that the need to grow food with humanure won’t be seen as long as there’s food to buy in stores. What this image illustrate for this society now is the need to think in more cooperative, community ways. It’s one more drop of water on the rock. Steps in this direction can be taken even here.

        So it’s not food production that would be the early driver of humanure composting. It would more likely be the coming together of increasing numbers of homeless people with aging sewerage system that cities can’t afford to repairs. Or systems collapse around energy, environment, economy and other factors prohibiting expanding and continually upgrading sewerage systems. I know a light would have to go on for cities to see it this way, but very simple homeless shelters in cities would recommend off-grid arrangements with humanure systems–maybe a passive systems just outside the city, where sewerage is taken by a local person or team to be stored and break down over some years?

  2. Ha.. Come to NZ if you want, but be ready to live like a monk!

    The shortages of Imported goods has been a reality over here in ‘good old NZ’ for a while now, so we’re not immune to the systemic entropy griping the WWE dissipative system.

    Everything from lap tops and LCD screens to augment WFH. Sewing machines, parts, fabric, gorse and elastic to make masks or repair pants, are harder to get. Car parts, (you won’t get spark plugs for a Mazda 6 from repco or specific light bulbs in my home town. I brought the last sets) cameras, or replacement rechargeable batteries for some products can’t be supplied. Things like washing machine parts are on long order lists from retailers. Often stores only have the display models for many brands in stock, so if you ant brought it yet, you won’t get it much longer here.

    Interesting fuel prices are nearly on par with pre lockdown.
    Only seeing consistent FMCG imports in NZ personally.

    NZ Government is implementing compulsory face masks for all public transport from midnight tonight, that’s going to stifle commuters further and encourage more to WFH if they can.

    When NZ opens it’s boarders eventually, expecting a huge influx of goods, students and tourism.. nothing will happen…a non event at the end of a very very long strained JIT supply demand system that no longer works.

    Don’t hold your breath for the land of the long white cloud, It’s just a south western pacific archipelago not far from Easter island with a soon to close aluminium smelter.

    Our capital city ‘ Orcland’ is just a service industry town really, they don’t make anything up there, they just consume and do urban sprawl. We produce nothing but Dairy, wool, meat, wine and logs and pay high rental prices to the rent seeking elite….Hay ya want buy any Meat? We can sell you some cheep unprocessed radiata pine logs we got about 10 million on the docks and bare hills in the scenic background from all the clear felling.

    New Zealand wont be a paradise haven forever, we’re just riding a lucky wave heading into reset.

  3. “Over the course of 150 years, America’s oldest continuously running hotel has never been closed for this long.

    “Yet, as stay-at-home orders took hold in March, all but one of the 1,641 rooms at the Palmer House Hilton in the centre of Chicago began to empty out, with the hotel eventually suspending operations on April 28 for all except a single long-term resident…

    “The fate of the property is not only emblematic of the severity of the crisis emerging for the hotel industry but also of the pressure building across the commercial real estate sector — from small-town malls to sky-high office blocks – hitting one of its primary sources of financing; the $1.4tn market for commercial mortgage-backed securities.”

    https://www.ft.com/content/e4b2302b-76c5-494a-8560-e6d24de9358f

      • Everyone the Guardian disagrees with is a far right extremist, but this one is really over the top. What is far right, or extremist, about flying the flag of the last legitimate German government? The last one not levered into power by foreign tyrants? (Yes, Hitler was not German).

        • If you are not left wing, you are branded as “far right”. There is no middle, or moderate, or conservative…..only “far right”!
          It does get one to the point that the term loses meaning, except for meaning they do not meet the strictures of the left.

          • Otto von Bismarck worked tirelessly to turn Germany into a unified constitutional monarchy, with a great deal of success. He was devoted to peace and the balance of power; his only major defeats were when a gang of (left wing) politicians demanded the annexation of Alsace Lorraine, and when the Roman Catholic Church supported the socialists against him in the late 1870s. Until, alas, the shooting at Sarajevo by a member of the Black Hand; not even a real Serbian group, but a bunch of rabid emigres based in, and funded by, the University of Chicago. Another inconvenient fact that has been written out of history.

            The Weimar Republic of 1919 was dictated by the “victorious” powers, who had agreed to an armistice and then broken every clause of that agreement. It was supported by David Lloyd George and Woodrow Wilson, two of the most stupid and corrupt people ever to hold power in our two countries. Wilson was also largely responsible for the creation of a “Polish” state half of whose territory was inhabited by majority non Poles.

            The rest you probably know, except for the string pulling that put into power in Germany a former member of the East German secret police, who now cheerfully executes the whims of her globalist masters just as she did those of her Soviet masters.

            And you think we won the two world wars? Think again.

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