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.

2,015 thoughts on “Today’s Energy Predicament – A Look at Some Charts

  1. “Virus pushes world’s biggest job program to brink in India – Rathod is vying for work under the world’s largest jobs programs: The only option for the millions of migrant workers who face mass job losses in a struggling economy and a raging pandemic.

    ““If there were 15 people for a job earlier, now there are 200. Work for eight days is getting done in one day,” Rathod, 45, said from Nawabganj in Uttar Pradesh.”

    https://www.arabnews.com/node/1733666/business-economy

    • According to the article:

      Launched more than 15 years ago to offer a secure livelihood to rural India, the scheme guarantees applicants at least 100 days of work for average daily wages of 200 rupees. It has been credited with saving families from poverty, and empowering women and the socially-marginalized.

      But there really aren’t enough jobs available for all the people without work because of the pandemic.

  2. It seems that Christians are being completely wiped out everywhere and by everyone and that there is no possibility of tolerance between them and anyone else. Can you imagine people who would put gang attacks on people for their beliefs on the internet and what that must be like for the people involved. I suppose that is what happens when tolerance is not possible and it seems that is only going to end one way. Sad.

    > Radicals in India Use Social Media to Circulate Videos of Attacks on Christians

    09/12/2020 India (International Christian Concern) – According to the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN), radical Hindu nationalists are making and circulating videos of their attacks on Christians in an effort to incite hatred and fear. This report comes as Persecution Relief, an Indian Christian NGO, reports that it has documented some 293 cases of Christian persecution in India in just the first half of 2020.

    In an interview with UCAN, Shibu Thomas of Persecution Relief explains that many incidents of Christian persecution are being recorded by radical Hindu nationalists. These videos are then widely circulated on social media, with Facebook alone having a network of 33 million users in India.

    According to Thomas, the videos of attacks on Christians are circulated to incite hatred and defame the Christian minority of India. In these videos, the Christian victims are falsely accused of committing a crime before being attacked. Often, the crime these victims are accused of is forced religious conversions.

    Accusations of forced conversions are especially used against Christians in states where anti-conversion laws are currently enforced.

    In states where anti-conversion laws are currently enacted, including Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Uttrakhand, they are widely abused. Radical nationalists falsely accused Christian leaders and evangelists of forcefully converting individuals to Christianity to justify harassment and assault. Local police often overlook this harassment due to the false accusation of forced conversions.

    https://www.persecution.org/2020/09/12/radicals-india-use-social-media-circulate-videos-attacks-christians/

    • Blacks and Muslims in the USA and Europe regularly put their gang attacks on white people on the internet. They gave been known to stream them live on Facebook.

      Nothing new there. Don’t you know that is okay? White people are evil.

      And you are a racist if you object.

      • The problem is not so much race, per se, but the exaltation of violence: when I was looking into London black gangs, I even found videos made by them in prison, posted on Youtube, boasting about attacks on young black inmates.

        It’s simply a vile sub-culture, egoistic and without any morality except inspiring terror and proving how vicious you can be.

        What did we do with such groups in the past – bandits and outlaws?

        Exterminate them, with rope and axe – for the benefit of ALL decent people, whatever their race.

  3. In space things are different.

    The atoms will move from one piece of metal to another and the pieces will merge as one solid.

    Space missions do have a problem with this natural phenomenon.

    • The effect is caused by the exchange forces between the atoms, or, specifically, of the atomic nuclei: exchange forces between bosons are attractive. In metals, this attraction at close range will overcome the electrostatic repulsion of the electron shells, and so cause the “welding”. The situation for ferromagnetic alloys is rather more complicated, and so far I believe only approximate solutions are available.

    • This seems to be the lack of gas contaminants (vacuum) and clean surfaces, resulting in the Van Der Walls molecular attraction cementing the two together. This is done on some present day laser crystal constructions, where the material is polished so smooth that the clean uncontaminated surfaces adhere to each other through molecular attraction forces. No glue or adhesive required!

    • My understanding is this is due to clean metal surfaces with no oxide covering. Basically everything on Earth in atmosphere is coated with an oxide layer. In outer space with a vacuum a clean surface can stay clean. But of course you must first clean it.

  4. With COVID-related income supplements and unemployment benefits now expired or reduced, we face a new wave of mortgage and rental delinquencies, many of which will come in the next few months.
    https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/516032-the-coming-wave-of-defaults?amp

    According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, as of June 30, mortgage delinquency in the U.S. had reached 8.2 percent, the highest since 2011 and almost double the 4.5 percent of a year earlier. With 53 million mortgages in the U.S., that means more than 4.3 million mortgages are delinquent. Add to that the fact that, per Black Knight mortgage analytics, almost 5 million homes have been in forbearance. With that, I estimate that at least 1 million to 2 million more of these loans will fall delinquent before the end of this year.
    As for renters, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that, as of July, 18 percent were delinquent in their rent payments. That compares with less than 7 percent in prior years. With more than 43 million renters, that means more than 7.4 million are behind on their rental payments. With the loss of income and unemployment support, it is reasonable to believe that number will increase by several million over the next few months.
    Many of the resulting evictions that normally would have occurred have been forestalled by government mandate, and a major portion of the mortgage payments and apartment rental payments that would have been late have been staved off by the lifeline of the $1,200 checks from the CARES Act and augmented unemployment benefits. Since this assistance has now expired, a new wave of delinquency is before us, and millions more Americans could go delinquent in the months immediately ahead.
    Telling us the obvious…

    Oh YES …I believe before Ftrump became High Chief he claimed the Mighty Dollar must Default….
    That’s the big one the Big Boys are planning on currently

    • I have been reading in the local paper about issues with respect to families who live in the weekly rental hotels. These tend to be the cheapest form of housing around here. Families with several children will jam into a small space. The hotel rooms will have a small cooking device, perhaps a small refrigerator and a bathroom. Now families in these spaces are facing eviction if they are behind on rent. There is an argument as to whether the residents should be treated as long term renters who cannot yet be evicted for lack of payment of rent.

  5. Oh on NO PEAK 😂 GOLD!
    Yahoo NewsYahoo News
    Reuters
    World’s gold miners wary of production ramp-up despite price surge
    Tanisha Heiberg and Arunima Kumar
    September 13, 2020, 7:00 AM EDT
    By Tanisha Heiberg and Arunima Kumar

    JOHANNESBURG/BENGALURU, Sept 13 (Reuters) – The world’s top gold miners are retrenching after COVID-19 related shutdowns despite record prices for the yellow metal, with cost-conscious executives prioritizing investor returns over production growth.
    Gold prices have jumped 30% this year to roughly $2,000 an ounce as central banks dial up stimulus measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
    That has fuelled a cash surge for miners, with top- and mid-tier producers holding roughly $5 billion in cash as of June 30, according to Scotiabank estimates.
    But interviews with executives, analysts and fund managers show miners are hesitant to spend on pricey projects and tap marginal deposits that require sizeable capital and take years to break even.
    Seven out of 10 of the global gold miners, including Newmont , the world’s biggest gold miner, Canada’s Barrick and South Africa’s Gold Fields, have cut planned output for the year by 7%, citing coronavirus-related shutdowns, regulatory filings show.
    The caution is a reversal from the 2011 gold price boom, which prompted buyers to overspend on acquisitions and led to billions in impairments when prices crashed in subsequent years.
    Companies which have won back investor favor are fearful of making similar mistakes.
    “The real trap in the gold industry in the past was chasing volume,” Newmont Chief Executive Officer Tom Palmer told Reuters.

    Perhaps the Chinese will have a method to extend it out some…

  6. Time to cross the street over to Standard & Poor’s
    Turkey Gets Unprecedented Downgrade, Crisis Warning From Moody’s
    (Bloomberg) — Turkey had its debt rating cut deeper into junk by Moody’s Investors Service, which warned of a possible balance-of-payments crisis in assigning the lowest grade it’s ever given to the country.
    The sovereign credit rating was cut to B2, five levels below investment grade and on par with Egypt, Jamaica and Rwanda. The company kept a negative outlook on the rating, saying fiscal metrics could deteriorate faster than currently expected.
    “Turkey’s external vulnerabilities are increasingly likely to crystallize in a balance-of-payments crisis,” London-based Moody’s analysts Sarah Carlson and Yves Lemay said in a report Friday
    ……Turkey’s credit-default swaps, local-currency debt and the lira have been the worst performers in emerging markets this quarter. The nation has spent its foreign-exchange reserves faster than any other major developing economy this year, with state-run lenders intervening in the market to support the lira as it slid to successive all-time lows.
    Maybe there is some hidden wealth the government can extort?
    Something that’s bright and shiny and doesn’t tarnish and is hidden by it’s citizens.

    • Herbie,

      Perhaps natural gas and a very large military force.

      With regards to shiny items, they seem very difficult to use in a practical sense for most people. Wealthy people storing this sort of thing in various physical locations seems problematical. One doesn’t have to physically steal it, only make it inaccessible.

      Dennis L.

  7. Dennis, true, there are drawbacks, risks and challenges in so called “stored wealth”. Precious metals have a track record that is well understood by Historical accounts and the remains of numerous hoards that were never retrieved by their former owners, from Ancient times to modern.
    Each one has to decide the best allocation and strategy to pursue.
    Gail’s advice is diversity, something may just work out.
    Yes, we folks are in uncharted territory and it is difficult to foresee ahead.
    In my case, being older, my time frame is shorter, less worry.;
    If I don’t enjoy a retirement, so what!🤭
    There was an early buyout offer at my employment.
    Still too early for me and do not feel being a useless eater now is wise.
    Rather still be attached to the system and protected because once officially retired…you are on your own….
    Judging from the talk in Washington DC, entitlements.(Social Security, Medicare), as they are coined, are going to be targeted. By a stroke of a pen, some Judge, court or political party can nullify expectations.
    If a Pension gets insolvent, the Government takes it and one receives at most half. From what I understand, it is already in trouble.
    Yes, Fast Eddie gave good advice, enjoy BAU now with what you want to do before it disappears…just try not to be foolish

    • Herbie,

      Agree, entitlements are targeted, incomes to support them have decreased, costs have increased. Hopefully, I look tpo 2029 as of now, that is when SS “runs out of money” whatever that means, COVID may have changed that again.

      Work is good, being useful is good, and best of all if one has a group of people, social is good. Everything social is mostly shut down, symphony, Rotary, etc. Dining is fought with risks, school is closed for all practical purposes. Old teachers are afraid of death is my guess.

      All the best,

      Dennis L.

  8. A couple of days ago, commenter “Fred” posted an interesting video by Dr. Zach Bush. This is a link to the prior comment. https://ourfiniteworld.com/2020/09/01/todays-energy-predicament-a-look-at-some-charts/comment-page-19/#comment-260058 In this earlier comment, he was very concerned about glyphosate really messing up ecosystems and our bodies. He sees this as the problem underlying the growth in autism and in many other health problems that are growing now.

    I found another video by Dr. Zach Bush. He has a very different view of COVID-19 than Dr. Fauci. In fact, one of his COVID videos seems to have been taken down you tube. He sees COVID-19 as actually helpful, in helping mankind to adapt to new pollutants. High particulates in an area lead to high death rates. There is a lot of detail to his theory, which I cannot explain adequately.

    • Thanks, I will watch when I get time, some thoughts on self organizing systems and possible research.

      The greatest expense for medicare used to be the last year or so of life – it would be interesting to see the medicare costs/patient pre and post Covid, a guess is they are lower. Similarly, smokers had lower life time medical costs, HBR sometime in the seventies.

      All ag chemicals are bad,unless one wants to eat. At one time I lived in the center of a golf club, at that time there was a reported increase incidence of cancer of those living on courses compared to those who did not, old study from memory. I moved.

      We are being reorganized and capital is being destroyed that is not useful.

      Some very interesting trends in agriculture – I think some current practices won’t work much longer due to capital destruction, robots are coming and they work 24/7, they are smaller, require much smaller shops, smaller tires, etc. Row crops, and rock picking are two good candidates. Question is, how many people will be left to eat the crops? Might be possible to return to old fashion cultivation as opposed to spraying the heck out of everything? Bayer probably wouldn’t see the humor in the change.

      Dennis L.

      • Loss of topsoil is a big issue as well. Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations is an extremely good book that came out in 2007. He argues that erosion of topsoil is a major issue leading to civilizational collapse. Also, the poisoning of the soil by irrigation is another problem people overlook.

        I believe that the no-till approaches were aimed at greatly reducing the erosion problem.

        • Agriculture or horticulture where you dig up the ground releases mucho carbon into the air. Since learning that, any kind of digging has become viscerally repellant to me (to any extensive degree).

          And although hugelkultur can be about extensive burying of organic-material growing medium underground, it can also be about piling it up on the surface (which I prefer).

          https://greentumble.com/what-is-hugelkultur/

          Also, in view of predial larceny in so many poor places, growing should probably go on within the web of the built environment where it can be closely guarded.

        • One of my lectures on the history of technology talked about “technology traps”: it is good in the short term, disastrous in the long term, and almost irreversible. One example I gave was the irrigation of North Africa in Roman times; it made the soil more productive, until the salination created a desert. (The crazy spelling checker behind this window seems to think that word should be “salinization”; the OED says otherwise.) Another, more controversial example, was antibiotics, which in the longer term breed plagues (had I but known, that 25 years later, …). Another well documented example is the erosion of Iceland’s soil by inappropriate farming practices.

          These problems become obvious, but nothing is done about them, because we value the immediate future and heavily discount the more distant future. So we stuff ourselves with prime cuts of beef but our grandchildren will eat insects and tree bark.

            • Thank you, Gail, and I agree. However did the forests manage themselves for 300 million years without our woke environmentalists to nurture them? I remember visiting Marin County (just across the Golden Gate Bridge), and reflecting on how useful forest fires were. In fact, without them the great redwood trees would go extinct: the fires burn the tree bark and release the seeds, clear the ground of underbrush, and leave a deposit of potassium rich soil to nourish the seedlings.

    • Listened to most of it, it is consistent. Know someone in medical administration of a very large group, well accepted this is not a respiratory disease.

      Dennis L.

    • Glyphosate is often used as a crop desiccant, it’s a systemic herbicide, so if you eat eg non organic oats and wheat, then you will also be getting a dose of these chemicals. Other ‘weed’ killers are also used. I never eat any grain or food that could have been sprayed like this before harvest, I always buy organic oats and flour for my family although I rarely eat wheat myself.The process of milling grains into flour results in the body treating it like pure sugar. I think Dr John Day wrote about this in his book ‘The Longevity Plan’ .
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crop_desiccation
      Family member tested positive for C19 on Friday, she feels fine bit of a cough but working as normal from home today, husband and young son showing no systems so far, were tested Saturday and are awaiting results, also working from home. All our family have been taking Vit D and C for months as per Dr John Campbell’s advice and getting a dose of sunshine where weather permits in the cloudy NW UK. My daughters friend also tested negative despite Mum and boyfriend testing positive but with no systems at all. She is a radiographer in a hospital. From my experience so far this whole C19 thing has been blown out of all proportion and a lot of people are going to suffer horribly due to C19 restrictions as Gail has already pointed out.
      Dr John even mentions the C word in this video re Vitamin D, CONSPIRACY.

      His video on hydroxychloroquine is also a must watch.

      • Thanks! This has really been a strange pandemic. It is hard to believe how little attention has been paid to what seem like inexpensive solutions to the problem.

        I do hope your family members and friends make it through this round of COVID-19 without many problems. Good luck to all!

  9. What was the original or ancestral sin of Adam and Eve in the Bible? The snake told Eve that you will be like God, when you eat it.

    Was it not the use of additional energy itself? As this use allowed humans to create new worlds for humans? I.e. to be like God-Creator. And the humans, after eating it, realized that they are nsked. They did not realize their nakedness in the state where there was just enough energy. They realized it after they tried the use of additional energy. When this additional energy disappeared, they realized, that they are naked, i.e. they lack the additional energy.

    • original sin was sex, god was practicing population control when he told adam and eve to not do it six thousand years later the population has exploded .

    • Interesting idea! Of course, pre-humans started using additional energy over one million years ago. This additional energy is what made humans different from other animals.

      I believe that the Old Testament gives the myths of the day, regarding how the world was created. They can be compared with the myths of other groups at the same time.

      I suppose the idea of original sin can fit into this context as well. Once we need additional energy, the population needs more and more additional energy, to keep up with rising population, depletion, and pollution. It is this quest for additional energy that leads to conflict among peoples.

      • “It is this quest for additional energy that leads to conflict among peoples.” – that is the point. Because THE SIN IS ABOUT DOING SOMETHING, i.e. bribery, stealing, fraud etc. All this accumulates as you move from the ideal place, i.e. the Eden, where you do not have to do nothing, you do not need clothes, homes, cars etc., there you simply have enough naked and without any posession. YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO SOMETHING.

        When somebody commits sin, he or she hides. In fact, he or she hides his or her nakedness, i.e. that he or she does not have enough.

        • If human were like the animals, we would not have this energy-related problem. We know, however, that many animals are very territorial. This helps keep population down. Males will fight with males from other groups, to maintain their territory. So I don’t think the issue is entirely “additional” energy related. It is really related to “survival of the best-adapted.” But survival of the best adapted reaches ever higher limits, with additional energy.

          • The point is rather the mutations that destroy the human race, as mutations destroy other species, e.g. dogs.

            The need for additional energy is driven by the genetic mutation. The mutated organisms need to get additional energy, as I have mentioned it before. The humans are not able to adapt to less energy, they need more energy to fight own mutations, so they commit sins, which, of course, ends badly, as the mutated humans kill or rob the weak humans, not understanding the additional energy problem.

    • The fact that hospitals are not overwhelmed with the many cases is important.

      Early models said that hospitals and ICUs would be overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases. Now, we are seeing that this is not the case, even as schools restart in-person classes and meetings start to be held in person again.

      On a world basis, daily new cases have never fallen as a result of all of the transportation cut offs, social distancing, and masks.

      On a world basis, deaths fell after April 18. At that point, we had started to figure out how to handle COVID-19 cases medically. The rising wave of cases caused world deaths to start rising about the beginning of June. There was a significant rise in deaths, reaching a peak about Aug 13. Total deaths have been falling since then.

      Given that new cases have been flat for a fairly long time, it makes sense to compare deaths to new cases. In the most recent week, deaths have been 5,032 and new cases are reported to be 265,073. The ratio of deaths to new cases reported is 1.9%.

      We expect that actual new cases are a multiple of 265,073 because most people without symptoms won’t be tested. In fact, a significant share of people with only a mild illness will never bother to be tested. If we guess that “true” new cases is at least 3 times 265,073, then the indicated death rate relative to total cases is 0.6%, or less. It will be higher than this for the elderly and those with non-white skin, living in areas of low solar insulation (and thus, likely vitamin D deficient). For people under age 85, with adequate vitamin D levels, the death rate is likely quite close to zero.

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