Today’s Energy Predicament – A Look at Some Charts

Today’s energy predicament is a strange situation that most modelers have never really considered. Let me explain some of the issues I see, using some charts.

[1] It is probably not possible to reduce current energy consumption by 80% or more without dramatically reducing population.

A glance at energy consumption per capita for a few countries suggests that cold countries tend to use a lot more energy per person than warm, wet countries.

Figure 1. Energy consumption per capita in 2019 in selected countries based on data from BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy.

This shouldn’t be a big surprise: Our predecessors in Africa didn’t need much energy. But as humans moved to colder areas, they needed extra warmth, and this required extra energy. The extra energy today is used to build sturdier homes and vehicles, to heat and operate those homes and vehicles, and to build the factories, roads and other structures needed to keep the whole operation going.

Saudi Arabia (not shown on Figure 1) is an example of a hot, dry country that uses a lot of energy. Its energy consumption per capita in 2019 (322 GJ per capita) was very close to that of Norway. It needs to keep its population cool, besides running its large oil operation.

If the entire world population could adopt the lifestyle of Bangladesh or India, we could indeed get our energy consumption down to a very low level. But this is difficult to do when the climate doesn’t cooperate. This means that if energy usage needs to fall dramatically, population will probably need to fall in areas where heating or air conditioning are essential for living.

[2] Many people think that “running out” of oil supplies should be our big worry. I believe that lack of the “demand” needed to keep oil and other energy prices up should be at least as big a worry.

The events of 2020 have shown us that a reduction in energy demand can occur very quickly, in ways we would not expect.

Oil demand can fall from less international trade, from fewer international air flights, and from fewer trips by commuters. Demand for electricity (made mostly with coal or natural gas) is likely to fall if fewer buildings are occupied. This will happen if universities offer courses only online, if nursing homes close for lack of residents who want to live there, or if young people move back with their parents for lack of jobs.

In some ways, the word “appetite” might be a better word than “demand.” Either high or low appetite can be a problem for people. People with excessive appetite tend to get fat; people with low appetite (perhaps as a side-effect of depression or of cancer treatments) can become frail.

Similarly, either high or low energy appetite can also be a problem for an economy. High appetite leads to high oil prices, as occurred back in 2008. These are distressing to oil consumers. Low appetite tends to lead to low energy prices. These are distressing to energy producers. They may cut back on production, as OPEC nations have done in the recent past, in an attempt to get prices back up. Some energy producers may file for bankruptcy.

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

Just as people can die from indirect effects of too little appetite, an economy can fail if it cannot keep its energy prices (appetite) up. In fact, an economy will probably collapse quite quickly if it cannot keep oil and other energy prices up. The cost of mining or otherwise extracting energy supplies tends to increase over time because the cheapest, easiest-to-extract supplies are taken first. The selling price of energy products needs to keep rising as well, in order for producers to be able to make a profit and, therefore, be able to continue production.

We know that historically, many economies have collapsed. Revelation 18:11-13 tells us that in the case of the collapse of ancient Babylon, the problem at the time of collapse was inadequate demand for the goods produced. There was not even demand for slaves, which was the type of energy available for purchase at that time. This lack of demand (or low appetite) is similar to the low oil price problem we are encountering today.

[3] The big reduction in energy appetite since mid-2008 has particularly affected the US, EU, and Japan. 

We would expect lower energy prices to eventually lead to a decline in energy production because producers will find production unprofitable. On a world basis, however, we don’t see this pattern occurring except during the Great Recession itself (Figure 3).

Figure 3. World per capita energy consumption, based on data from BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy. On a worldwide basis, energy production and consumption are virtually identical because storage is small compared to production and consumption.

Note that in Figure 3, energy consumption is on a “per capita” basis. This is because energy is required for making goods and services; the higher the population, the greater the quantity of goods and services required to maintain a given standard of living. If energy consumption per capita is rising, there is a good chance that living standards are rising.

The countries of the US, EU, and Japan have not been very successful in keeping their energy consumption per capita level since the big drop in oil prices in mid-2008.

Figure 4. Per capita energy consumption for the US, EU, and Japan, based on data from BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy.

The falling per capita energy consumption for the US, EU, and Japan is what one would expect if economic conditions were getting worse in these countries. For example, this pattern might be expected if young people are having difficulty finding jobs that pay well. It might also happen if repayment of debt starts interfering with young people being able to buy homes and cars. When fewer goods of these types are purchased, less energy consumption per capita is required.

The pattern of falling energy consumption per capita cannot continue for long without reaching a breaking point because people with low wages (or no jobs at all) will become more and more distressed. In fact, we started seeing an increasing number of demonstrations related to low wage levels, low pension levels, and lack of government services starting in 2019. This problem has only gotten worse with layoffs related to the pandemic in 2020. These layoffs corresponded to substantial further reduction in energy consumption per capita.

[4] China, India, and Vietnam are examples of countries whose energy consumption per capita has risen in recent years.

Not all countries have done as poorly as the major economies in recent years:

Figure 5. Some examples of countries with rising energy consumption per capita, based on data from BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy.

These Asian countries could outcompete the US, EU, and Japan in several ways:

  • Big undeveloped coal reserves. These resources could be used as an inexpensive fuel to compete with countries that had depleted their own coal resources. Coal tends to be less expensive than other types of energy, especially if pollution problems are ignored.
  • Warmer climate, so these countries did not need much fuel for heating. Even Southern China does not heat its buildings in winter.
  • Pollution was generally ignored.
  • New, more efficient factories could be built.
  • Lower wages because of
    • Milder climate
    • Inexpensive fuel supply
    • Lower medical costs
    • Lower standard of living

The developed economies were concerned about reducing their own CO2 emissions. Moving heavy industry to these Asian nations meant that the developed economies could benefit in three ways:

  1. Their own CO2 emissions would fall, whether or not world emissions fell.
  2. Pollution problems would be moved offshore.
  3. The cost of finished goods for consumers would be lower.

Moving heavy industry to these and other Asian countries meant the loss of jobs that had paid fairly well in the US, Europe, and Japan. While new jobs replaced the old jobs, they generally did not pay as well, leading to the falling energy consumption per capita pattern seen in Figure 4.

[5] The growing Asian economies in Figure 5 are now reaching coal limits.

While these economies were built on coal reserves, these reserves are becoming depleted. All three of the countries shown in Figure 5 have become net coal importers.

Figure 6. Coal production versus consumption in 2019 for China, India and Vietnam based on data from BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy.

[6] World coal production has remained on a bumpy plateau since 2011, suggesting that its extraction is reaching limits. (Figure 7)

Figure 7. World energy consumption by type, based on data from BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy. “Renewables” represents renewables other than hydroelectricity. Total world consumption is approximately equal to total world production, since stored amounts are small.

Figure 8, below, shows that growth in China’s coal production was the major reason for the big rise in world coal consumption between 2002 and 2011. In fact, this rise in production started immediately after China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Figure 8. World coal production by country based on data from BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy.

China’s rapid growth in coal production stopped in 2011. The problem was that extraction from an increasing share of coal mines became unprofitable: The cost of extraction rose but coal prices did not rise to match these higher costs. China could build new mines in locations more distant from where the coal was to be used, but transportation costs would tend to make this coal higher-cost as well. China could increase its coal consumption by importing coal, but that would also be more expensive.

Figure 9. Coal production for selected areas based on data from BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy.

In Figure 9, above, we see how dramatically higher China’s coal production has been, in comparison to coal production in other areas of the world. After China’s coal production stalled about 2011, it bounced back in 2018 and 2019 as the country opened mines in the north of the country, farther from industrial use.

Figure 9 indicates that the US’s coal production was on a long plateau between 1990 and 2008; more recently, the US’s production has fallen. Coal production for Europe was falling even before 1981, but the data available for this chart only goes back to 1981. Declining production again results from the cost of production rising above the prices producers could obtain from selling the coal.

Whether or not world coal production will increase in the future remains to be seen. Normally, a person would expect a long bumpy plateau in coal production, such as the world has experienced since 2011, to precede a fall in production. This would be similar to the pattern observed in the US’s coal production. This pattern would also be similar to the shape modeled by geophysicist M. King Hubbert for many types of resource production.

Figure 10. M. King Hubbert symmetric curve from Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels.

[7] World oil production through 2019 has continued upward in an amazingly steady pattern, despite low prices. Its major problem has been unprofitability for producers. 

Figure 7 above shows the total amount of oil produced has continued upward in almost a straight line, except for a dip at the time of the Great Recession.

In fact, every person needs goods and services made with energy products. Rising energy consumption per capita will mean that, on average, every person is getting the benefit of more energy supplies. Figure 11 shows information similar to that on Figure 7, except on a per-capita basis.

Figure 11. World per capita energy consumption by type based on data from BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy. Total world consumption is approximately equal to total world production, since stored amounts are small.

Figure 11 indicates that on a per capita basis, oil supply has been approximately flat. In a way, this should not be surprising. Oil is absolutely essential in many ways. It is used for agriculture, transportation and construction. Oil is also used for its chemical properties in medicines, herbicides, pesticides, lubricants, and many other products. Oil is very energy dense and can be easily stored.

Because of its special properties, many people have assumed that oil prices will always rise. We saw in Figure 2 that this doesn’t actually happen. Low prices have continued for long enough now that they are becoming a serious problem for producers. Many companies are seeking bankruptcy. One analysis shows that 230 oil and gas producers and 214 oilfield services companies have filed for bankruptcy since 2015.

Oil exporters find their countries in financial difficulty, because at low prices, the taxes that they can collect are not sufficient to maintain the programs needed for their people. If the programs cannot be maintained, citizens may become unhappy and revolt.

At this point, oil production during 2020 is down. Figure 12 shows OPEC’s estimate of oil production through July 2020. World oil production is reported to be down about 12%. The highest month of supply was about November 2018.

Figure 12. OPEC and world oil production, in a chart made by OPEC, from the August 2020 OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report.

Figure 13 shows oil production for selected areas of the world through 2019.

Figure 13. Oil production for selected areas of the world based on data from BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy. Europe includes Norway. Russia+ is the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Middle East production tends to bounce up and down. If prices are low, the tendency is to reduce production, as occurred in 2019.

US production rose rapidly between 2008 and 2019, but dipped in 2016, as prices dropped way too low.

Europe’s oil production (including Norway) reached its highest point in the year 2000. It has been declining since then, causing concern for governments.

The production of what I call Russia+ dropped with the collapse of the central government of the Soviet Union in 1991. Oil prices had been very low between 1981 and 1991. It appears to me that these low prices were instrumental in the collapse of the central government of the Soviet Union. Production was able to rise again in the early 2000s when prices rose. My concern now is that a similar collapse will happen for some oil exporters in the next few years, due to low prices, and it will lead to a major decline of world oil production.

[8] Natural gas is the fuel that seems to be available in abundant supply, if only the price could be made to rise to a high enough level for producers. 

Natural gas production can be seen to be rising on both Figures 7 and 11. The fact that natural gas consumption is rising on a per capita basis in Figure 11 indicates that production is rising robustly–enough to offset weakness in coal production and perhaps help increase the world standard of living, to some extent.

We can see from Figure 14 below that the increase in natural gas production is coming from quite a number of different areas, including the US, Russia and its affiliates, the Middle East, and Australia. Again, Europe (including Norway) seems to be in decline.

Figure 14. Natural gas production for selected areas of the world based on data from BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy. Europe includes Norway. Russia+ is the Commonwealth of Independent States.

The problem for natural gas is again a price problem. It is difficult to get the price up to a high enough level to cover the cost of both the extraction of natural gas and the infrastructure and fuel needed to transport the natural gas to its destination.

We used to talk about “stranded natural gas,” that is, natural gas that can be extracted, but whose cost of transportation is simply too high to make the overall transaction economic. In fact, historically, a lot of natural gas has simply been burned off as a waste product (flared) or re-injected into oil wells, to keep up pressure, because there was no hope of selling it profitably at a distance. It is this formerly stranded natural gas that is now being produced.

Figure 15. Historical natural gas prices based on data from BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy. LNG is liquefied natural gas transported by ship. German imported natural gas is mostly by pipeline. US Henry Hub gas is natural gas without overseas transport costs included.

The increase in investment in natural gas production in recent years has been based on the hope that prices would rise high enough to cover both the cost of extraction and transportation. In fact, prices have tended to fall with crude oil prices, making the overall price far too low for most natural gas producers. Prices in 2020 have been even lower. For example, recent Japan LNG prices have been about $4 per million Btu. Thus, natural gas seems to have exactly the same problem as coal and oil: Prices are far too low for producers.

[9] The world economy is a self-organizing system, powered by energy. It can be expected to behave in a very strange way when diminishing returns become too much of a problem. 

In the language of physics, the world economy is a dissipative structure. This has been known at least since 1996. The economy is a self-organizing system powered by energy; it is not possible to significantly reduce energy consumption without a major collapse.

The economy has many parts to it. I have illustrated the situation in the following way:

The fact that consumers are also employees means that if wages fall too low (for a significant share of the population), then consumption will also tend to fall too low.

Prices are set by the market. Contrary to the popular view, prices are not based primarily on scarcity. Instead, they are based on the quantity of finished goods and services that consumers in the aggregate can afford. If wage disparity gets to be too great a problem, commodity prices of all types will tend to fall too low.

[10] Economists and modelers of all kinds have completely misunderstood how the economy actually operates.

Our academic communities each seem to exist in separate ivory towers. Economists don’t talk to physicists. Physicists know that dissipative structures cannot last indefinitely. Humans are dissipative structures; they each have limited lifetimes. Hurricanes are also dissipative structures that last only a limited time.

Most economists and modelers have never considered the possibility that today’s economy, like that of ancient Babylon, could be reaching collapse because of low demand, and thus, low prices.

Economists don’t realize that once energy resources become too depleted, energy prices are not likely to rise high enough for producers to make a profit; instead, the overall system will tend to collapse. Central banks have been trying, without success, to get commodity prices up to the point where they can be profitable for producers, but they have not been successful to date. I am doubtful that even more new tricks, such as Universal Basic Income, will work, either.

The erroneous belief systems of most economists and modelers leads to all kinds of strange results. The economy is modeled as if it will grow indefinitely. Most modelers assume that if we have oil, coal, or natural gas in the ground, plus the technical capability to pull these resources out, we will eventually pull them out. Perhaps a later civilization, built on the remains of our current civilization, can do this, but our current civilization cannot.

Climate change models are applied to fossil fuel assumptions that are absurdly high, given the problems with low energy prices that we are currently encountering. No one stops to model what will happen to the climate if fossil fuel consumption is decreased very quickly, which seems to be a real possibility in 2020. The loss of aerosol emissions (smog, for example) from fossil fuels will tend to spike world temperatures, even with reduced CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.

We are led to believe that an economy similar to today’s economy can operate solely on renewables. This is simply absurd. Figures 7 and 11 show that there are nowhere near enough renewables to support today’s population, even if substitution were possible for fossil fuels. In fact, we need fossil fuels to make and maintain solar panels, wind turbines, electric transmission lines, hydroelectric plants, and nuclear power plants.

If we cannot keep fossil fuels operating because of continued low prices, today’s economy can expect a disturbing change for the worse.

This entry was posted in Financial Implications, Introductory Post 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.

2,036 thoughts on “Today’s Energy Predicament – A Look at Some Charts

  1. Reading ZH today and Alasdair Macleod’s post on “Inflation, Deflation, and Other Fallacies”:
    https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/inflation-deflation-other-fallacies

    He mentions Gibson’s Paradox, a term I was unfamiliar with.
    https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/gibsonsparadox.asp

    Basically the rate of inflation/deflation correlates to the wholesale prices, not the amount of currency in circulation. The price of energy (fossil fuels) consumers can afford to pay, for whatever reason is dropping as reflected by the drop in WTI prices, and since energy price is the ultimate controller of economies, by Gibson’s paradox then this would predict deflation. This is in contrast to the traditional supply-demand Keynesian theory that would predict price increases from the relentless printing of fiat money. Macleod does mention that going off the gold standard does complicate this however.

  2. This is a twenty minute discussion of the status of the Three Gorges Dam. The speaker does not feel that the dam is really designed properly to prevent floods. In fact, it can make them worse. It also has experienced damage in many ways, making it unstable. Like an unstable house, it is not really safe to use. The government has let some information on this leak out on the internet, so people won’t be too surprised when eventually the dam fails in some catastrophic way.

    • At about 17:00 from Stalin’s book on Political economy, “We have the tools to conquer nature.” I am not a fan of Guy McPherson whose statement “Nature bats last,” is well known, but with regards to the dam, we will see. My guess in August was it would hold – always an optimist, my concern was the amount or erosion all the water and silt/sand must be causing on the spill ways. The hydrologist seems like a smart cookie.

      It is obvious there are shortcomings of the dam regarding flood control.

      We appear to have reached the point where we are engineering to the limit when that limit is uncertain, we are at the limits to growth.

      Dennis L.

      • The current population of China is 1,440,000,000. China can easily afford to lose a few million population and scarcely notice. And their government does not concern itself about the welfare of a few individuals. Neither did the Soviet Union, which is why it treated many of its citizens so brutally.

  3. “Singapore Airlines is not the first airline to offer trips that land at the same airport that they departed from. 

    “Japan’s ANA Holdings sold tickets for charter flights to nowhere last month, while two Taiwan carriers launched similar campaigns. 

    “Starlux Airlines introduced a ‘pretending to go abroad’ journey while EVA Airways filled all 309 seats on a Father’s Day flight.”

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8725811/Singapore-Airlines-planning-trips-start-end-airport-boost-business.html

      • Years ago, Australian airline Qantas had a memorable billboard advertising on the way to the airport. One side showed a Qantas flight being served by ‘blond bombshell’ flight crews. The other half portrayed a United flight being served by normally expected senior flight crews. International flights at US carriers get bid very senior. Anyway, the billboard caption below read: Fly Qantas to SFO to visit your Grandmother or book United and fly with your Grandmother.

        D3G

      • Singapore Airlines and JAL advertise with attractive Asian ladies. Will they also be attacked? I have heard that Asians are “white-adjacent”.

        • “Will they also be attacked?”

          You saw my post as an attack? I thought the billboard was hilarious. I should have mentioned that this was 25 years ago. No US air carrier would have dared to do an ad campaign like that in those days. Just as no US carrier back then would have violated their contract agreements with the flight attendants by spicing up the crew roster on the senior NFL trip. I made no personal judgements here. I only observed that things are changing.

          Cheers,
          D3G

        • Yes, East Asian women are attractive to white males. This might be because they are sweet, submissive and willing to please, which by the way is a total myth, but more likely because their faces are slightly more neotonous, which our biological programming understands as better breeding stock. By the way, treat an Asian woman with due respect, and she will be very pleased. You will avoid being called an “ang moh”.

      • “Maybe the airlines should bring back the mini skirts and go-go boots of the ’60’s.”

        Lol – I would endorse this strategy, D3G. 2020 is no fun.

        I recall thinking in my twenties that the cultural pendulum was going to keep swinging towards fun and yet here we are two decades later saddled with a bizarre form of puritanism.

        • Cold water splash, but we might recall what Anthony Burgess wrote in his autobiography about the glorious 60’s:

          ‘I wanted the girls in mini skirts, but they didn’t want me: I was 45, and they called me ‘Grandad’.

          Still carry on dreaming chaps! I am sure you can make your own fun on that island, Sir Harry, and we shall soon be reading scandalising reports about you in the Daily Mail……

          • How I sympathise with dear, old Andrew – I can’t imagine how out of place and pathetically lecherous I would look these days in a nightclub or similar.

            When my scandal comes to light I shall have to tell the DM, “Please, sir – Xabier the hot-blooded Basque made me do it.”

          • A situation parodied in a rather funny movie called “Twinky”, released in 1970 when the craze was almost over. The US release was called “Lola”. The censors of the time cut the movie, not because of anything that happened, but because it contained readings from Twinky’s rather explicit diary. (Yes, it’s in my library)

  4. For entertainment and maybe serious thought -UFO.

    This is an interview with David Fravor and Lex Fridman.

    David was a wing commander on the Nimitz, Lex has a Ph,D in EE and is currently at MIT as a post doc in AI, as a side job he has a YouTube with close to 600K subscribers.

    The UFO begins at 1:11:04 and lasts until 2:16:23 for the relevant part.

    This encounter was from 2004, a similar one occurred off the East Coast in 2014 I believe.

    My only conclusion is we are not as smart as we think, we are not alone and a surprising number of people seem to be coming back to the idea of an ultimate power. Which means to me, there is a reason to stick around, things may not be as bad as we think.

    Dennis L.

    • I wonder Dennis, if the laws of physics universally apply. If yes then alien civilizations would risk collapse for the same general reasons that ours does, probably long before they can leave their worlds. No amount of superior intelligence could make a difference in a dissipative energy system.

      D3G

      • This is the “Fermi Paradox”, though in fact it was first proposed in 1933 by Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky. If life is abundant in our universe, and some of that life is intelligent, and some of *that* is advanced enough to have interstellar travel, where are they?

        One way out is to deny one of the premises: life is rare; intelligent life is very rare; civilisations destroy themselves by smoking tobacco or inventing fiat currency before they develop space flight… Another is to deny the conclusion: they are here and two of them anally probed me last night; or they are here, but we are such an evil species the Earth has been quarantined (if that sounds familiar, it’s from C S Lewis’ “Out of the Silent Planet”, published in 1938).

        The orthodox scientists have another explanation: faster than light travel is impossible, therefore no space aliens. Two hundred years ago, orthodox scientists had a similar fatuous reason for disbelieving reports of meteorites: “There are no stones in the sky; therefore no stones can fall out of the sky”. The word “impossible” is in my book a substitute for true skepticism.

        Do I have an explanation? No. But two observations. First, SETI is a hopeless idea. A civilisation advanced enough to use interstellar communication would know enough to make such transmissions essentially lossless, so there would be nothing to overhear, anymore than we could equip a boat to overhear transatlantic cable traffic. Secondly, any civilisation advanced enough to visit us would be advanced enough to make their craft completely undetectable, at least until we can detect their gravitational attraction, probably the one thing you cannot cloak.

        So this is a subject of little interest to me, and if you read C G Jung’s “Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky”, from 1958, it will probably become of little interest to you, too.

          • Thanks for reposting this. I remembered the outcome of this analysis, but not who posted it or when.

            My earliest post that talked about dissipative structures seems to have been in April 2014. https://ourfiniteworld.com/2014/04/11/oil-limits-and-climate-change-how-they-fit-together/ I had been corresponding with Francois Roddier prior to this time about dissipative structures.

            This article by Paul Chefurka was written on October 29, 2013. He says,

            “Life is a dissipative structure as described by Ilya Prigogine: it lives by applying exergy to environmental raw materials to obtain the necessities for survival;”

            So this is life, not economies, as dissipative structures. But a combination of dissipative structures is again a dissipative structure.

            I doubt that I saw this back when it was actually written, or that I understood enough about it, to figure out exactly what it was saying. We know one way that things can work. The big question I have is whether we are missing some other way that things might work, with a different combination of elements in a different part of the universe.

          • Thank you, Harry. I read it several years ago, good to see it again. If you accept the premises, that every civilisation will follow our development path, then the conclusions pretty much follow. But the premises seem highly dubious. To give just one example, you don’t need rockets to get up to Earth orbit; you can use our planet’s magnetic field to do the same thing at about 1/1000 of the energy expenditure. And you don’t need fossil fuel to have a high energy economy: ocean thermal power can give you ten times the energy at one tenth the cost; the only obstacle is its lower energy flux density, but that is a soluble problem if were are more thoughtful and less greedy.

            And once in Earth orbit, you are halfway to anywhere else in the inner system, and can use solar sails to get there.

            • Robert—

              I fully accept that I might have missed a pertinent factoid here and there but, isn’t a high energy economy by definition greedy?
              no other animal species carries our level of greed.

              >>>>>And you don’t need fossil fuel to have a high energy economy: ocean thermal power can give you ten times the energy at one tenth the cost; the only obstacle is its lower energy flux density, but that is a soluble problem if were are more thoughtful and less greedy.<<<>>>And once in Earth orbit, you are halfway to anywhere else in the inner system, and can use solar sails to get there<<<<<

              off -earth lift is always going to be the problem, and while solar sails CAN provide thrust., I hesitate to ask what size solar sail would be needed to push worthwhile cargo, then over what time period, and to exactly what purpose?

        • Robert, I believe intelligent life would send out self replicating probes to each solar system in the galaxy. They would observe and send reports once per century to the probes in the near by system who would in replay to their neighbors. The whole galactic network would receive reports all reports. This would help hide the point of origin. There may be bad aliens that one does not want to revile ones home location to.

          The probe would just observe no kidnapping or dissecting of cows. It might build probes to be deployed on a planet with video and audio but small and camouflaged and self destructing ( in a quiet and discrete way) when done.

    • This is an interesting video regarding a UFO sighting in 2004. David Fravor makes a good witness. He hadn’t been willing to talk very publicly about this early on because he figured people would think the four of them who saw the UFO were crazy. The technology of the UFO seemed to be way above what we have now in 2020. It looked like a white “tic tack.” It moved too fast and shifted too quickly from side to side to be a drone or a helicopter. The type of propulsion and fuel were impossible to make sense out of. They seemed to be way beyond what we can do now.

        • I’m sceptical that so many hard-boiled experienced military men are having ‘hallucinations’. They certainly can’t film their hallucinations. They do see lots of optical phenomena and learn to recognise Venus, swamp gas and all the rest.

          Perhaps the conviction that we humans are top dog in this universe or even on this planet is a mental hallucination.

          • Of all of the theories that have been proposed to explain this, the simplest is that this is just another globalist psy-op.

            It is strange to me that people who so fiercely baulk at “conspiracy theories” are apparently quite happy to swallow tales of little green men.

      • Steve Justice from Skunk Works analysed a metamaterial allegedly from a UFO crash.

        The conclusion was that UFO’s are built in zero gravity, atom by atom…and even the atoms seems to have been built by the constructor.

          • Gail, I am sure atoms ca be built by a “constructor” of some kind; that, after all, is how we humble Earthlings built the transuranics. But could we tell the difference between a purpose built atom and an ordinary one? I rather doubt it. Supernova explosions almost certainly create transuranic elements; it’s just that they decay before anyone sees them.

            • I’m no scientist, Robert, but it’s clear that what happens naturally, on any scale, can potentially be duplicated by science. That’s how we humans managed to produce nuclear explosions on Earth. But so many people have little faith in science and cannot believe that it can progress, or cannot believe what it is currently capable of. In the past, when I have mentioned that tractor beams and teleportation are in their early phases in current science, occasionally commenters have ridiculed me and accused me of purveying pseudo-science. But then I have pointed them to the relevant, highly serious, online articles and told them to google the subject too. That shut them up. Fortunately our host, Gail, is not one of those people, and she poses open-minded questions if she is in doubt.

              It is of course fine to be sceptical and it is also necessary. However, there are too many potentially intelligent people whose ideas are set in stone and can’t imagine a future beyond now with scientific capabilities that are also far beyond what we possess now. As somebody once wrote, you could imagine Victorians objecting to the idea of space travel because no spaceship could ever be big enough to carry all the coal it would need to burn and still be light enough to leave Earth’s atmosphere.

              Not only can the rigid sceptics not imagine that science is capable of huge leaps, but they also cannot imagine what use such huge leaps would be put to. They cannot imagine that brilliant scientists of the future would find amazing uses to put them to, that we here in the present cannot conceive of. Such people are the equivalent of flat-earthers, because they cannot move on in their imagination, and they cannot imagine that others (and science) would move beyond their own flat-earther-ish imagination. It’s so frustrating to see such commenters still posting here.

            • For Malcopian: Gee, two Victorians sent people t the Moon: Jules Verne (with a very big gun), and H G Wells (with a coat of paint that cut off gravity). But then, some other Victorians called these scientific romances, and pointed out that even getting to Earth orbit was impossible.

              Calculation: compute how much energy is needed to reach Earth orbit; measure how much energy is released by the most powerful known explosive (rather less), and hence there is nothing that could even lift itself into Earth orbit, let alone a payload. QED!

              Of course, about 90% of the energy in a rocket indeed never reaches Earth orbit, a trick the Victorians overlooked. But to be fair, even space fanatic (and former SS officer) Wernher von Braun, in “Conquest of the Moon” estimated that a Moon rocket would need to weigh 800,000 tons to make the journey.

              Our planet’s magnetic field, by the way, extends out into space for over 40,000 miles (65,000 km), well beyond the geosynchronous Clarke orbit. So magnetic repulsion, properly harnessed, could indeed get us there. The trick is working out how to do it.

            • “two Victorians sent people t the Moon: Jules Verne (with a very big gun), and H G Wells (with a coat of paint that cut off gravity).”

              Thanks for that, Robert. I believe that Jonathan Swift and Edgar Allan Poe wrote stories that each incorporated a fictional element about one or two of the planets in the solar system that was later found to correspond to fact. It makes me wonder where intuition comes from.

            • For Malcopian (again)

              In Gulliver’s Travels (1726), Swift wrote that the scientists of Laputa had discovered two small satellites of Mars. They were observed by Asaph Hall some 150 years later. Swift’s imaginary satellites have been seen as something prescient, but I think he simply made them up, not least because they don’t obey Kepler’s Second Law, which had been published in 1609.

              Poe’s only space story was a rather silly satire called “The Unparalleled Adventure of one Hans Pfaall”, published in 1835. The protagonist goes to the Moon in a balloon, which Poe knew to be impossible since the story mentions the vacuum of space.

      • Unidentified: UFO Encounter Freezes Team in Time (Season 2)

        From the ancient Hindu Vedic texts: ‘Prince Arjuna, flying in his vimana, laid on a beam that paralysed his opponent.’

        Spooky, those parallels.

        ——————————–

        Search ‘Unidentified: series 2’ on the dailymotion site to see some full videos from the new series.

  5. Picked this off of Zerohedge, again it is the contrast between the baby boomers and the millennial generation. I think the big issue in the next few years is this transfer of wealth, baby boomers have to step up to the plate.
    https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/millennials-are-coming-boomers-money-one-bank-sees-generational-conflict-breaking-out

    Follow the money, from 1964 to 2019 I claim the increase in transfer of wealth from the young to the old was greater than the per capital increase cost of energy/captia of energy. This was based on media income/capita from BLS and SS admin.

    I am running like hell fwiw.

    Dennis L.

  6. I read worldofhanumanotg’s writing that the old bankers live longer and they will thwart the fourth turning.

    Isn’t it going to be the younger people’s advantage to murder as many older people as they could see? A full blown generational war.

    • “Young people” isn’t a cohesive cohort. Through the ages, humans have bonded for action and mutual security usiing far more basic and longlasting criteria than mere age.

      And so it will be in the future.

      Of course, we should still bear in mind that more than half of Americans under the age of 21 are now non-white. So in that case racial and age-related bonding in the USA may overlap.

      One waits with great interest to see what kind of society this young cohort will manage to build.

    • It was meant as mere extension of megatrend, as even today’s 70s owner class cohort won’t be likely as effective when reaching age of 90+ but that’s ~20yrs from now, and many believe [it] will be over by then anyway..

    • Simple to achieve: send the “old” people to Carousel at age 30. Identifying the movie is left as an exercise for the reader.

  7. “The French police fired tear gas and arrested more than 250 people in Paris as “yellow vest” protesters returned to the capital’s streets in force for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown…

    “Some of the protesters wore black clothes and carried the flag of an anti-fascist movement, suggesting the presence of radical demonstrators dubbed “black blocs” often blamed for violence at street marches in France.”

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/09/clashes-arrests-yellow-vest-protests-return-france-200912161751866.html

      • “Greece’s president will head to a tiny island that is at the heart of the country’s bitter dispute with Turkey on Sunday as Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s authoritarian leader, threatened to resolve the two nation’s differences “on the battlefield…

        “While speaking in Istanbul, he issued another threat towards Greece, referring obliquely to the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and other pacts that established the borders of modern Turkey.”

        https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/09/12/greek-president-heads-tiny-island-crux-crisis-turkey/

        • The Treaty of Lausanne involved a massive population swap that saw 1.2 million people forcibly driven from Turkey and Greece in an officially agreed and supervised ethnic cleansing.

          The fellow from the League of Nations refugee office who oversaw the “swap” – Fridtjof Nansen – received the Nobel Peace Prize for that year, 1922.

          Anyway, that was the end of the Ottoman Empire of course. It seems Erdogan wants to reiterate the whole issue.

      • These are a couple of charts of COVID-19 cases. The first one is new case average for the last seven days. A wide range of countries have had big increases, whether or not they number of illnesses dropped to a low level previously. Relative to population, the US is no longer highest of the countries shown. Spain and France are higher.

        When it comes to deaths, the number of deaths is a whole lot lower now. This is partly because the people catching COVID-19 are younger. It is also because treatments are a whole lot better.

  8. “Riot police fought running battles with opposing groups of protesters near Beirut’s Presidential Palace on Saturday after rights activists clashed with rival demonstrators chanting their support for President Michel Aoun.

    “Clashes erupted after activists marking the 40th day since the deadly Beirut port explosion on Aug. 4 were confronted by Free Patriotic Movement supporters who tried to break through a security blockade.”

    https://www.arabnews.com/node/1733486/middle-east

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