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.

2,368 thoughts on “Today’s Energy Predicament – A Look at Some Charts

  1. “The vandalism and looting following the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police will cost the insurance industry more than any other violent demonstrations in recent history, Axios has learned…

    “That number could be as much as $2 billion and possibly more, according to the Insurance Information Institute (or Triple-I), which compiles information from PCS as well as other firms that report such statistics.”

    • It is remarkable how often the links you post are polluted by politically loaded presuppositions. That is because it is all from MSM propaganda outlets, I suppose.

      George Floyd did not die “at the hands of the police”. He died of a fentanyl overdose that caused his lungs to increase to two to three times their normal weight. That can make it rather difficult to breathe. Police did not force him to ingest that fentanyl.

      At very least the fishwrap you are quoting could pretend to some small, amount of evenhandedness, apply a figleaf to their propaganda, and learn to use the word “allegedly”.

      • I don’t care if George Floyd was killed by police, drugs, or space aliens. He was an unregenerate violent thug who would rob pregnant women by pointing a loaded gun at their abdomen. The world is well rid of him.

        • The unfortunate produce of the social engineering of current era IC. We all expect the bread, circuses, smoke and mirrors, and the genetic cruft gets the blame. It’s so convenient. The educated and unemployable, uncapable and equally worthless dregs dancing together on the streets. Who’s to blame, yes, you and I. BAU is such an convincing allure.

      • So, his fentanyl od occurred at the precise moment a police officer happened to be filmed kneeling on his neck and back? What are the odds?!

        Of course his ingestion of fentanyl might have made him more vulnerable to asphyxiation but then one would think that the police would have a duty of care to check on the well-being of a person who says he cannot breath under such circumstances…

        Unless of course you are arguing that the police should have carte blance to treat drug-users as they wish and let the cards fall where they may, which, Kim, knowing you, you probably are, lol.

        • Mr. Floyd did fight and resist the police efforts to get him into the car backseat. Highly unfortunate. I wonder if the Fentanyl he was high on increased his tendency to resist arrest. Perhaps a more accurate phrase would be that Floyd died due to the side effects of Fentanyl, simultaneous arrest and improper constraint.

          It does seem to me that he could have been strapped by the legs for his own welfare and transported by ambulance to a hospital or the jail. That would be a much better outcome. There were alternatives to the lengthy knee constraint.

          • I no longer get riled up about these things. If you really believe in a massive decline in energy resources this century ( regardless of if its peak oil or low energy prices / demand or exponential growth) then this is deck chairs on the Titanic. Billions of people are going to suffer terribly and die prematurely. I don’t get upset about declining morale values or politics, or the loss of American culture, or massive immigration. Its literally going to be the end of the world as we know it. Everything is going to irreversibly change. So, Fook it, enjoy today. Make the preparations you can, and then smoke em if you got em.

          • I think there was a happy medium between letting him go and kneeling on his neck for eight minutes, Dennis.

            • Describe happy medium, let’s blend and assume the person is spitting as well. How is he/she approached?

              You mentioned restraining the legs, how does one approach flailing legs?

              How does one cover the cost of using multiple officers for one arrest?

              In the Cities, police response has slowed dramatically, no one wants to be sued. News reports of a very lively council meeting regarding lack of police protection. 100 officers have resigned/retired. It appears they are unwilling to risk loss of pensions, loss of freedom(jail time), financial loss as well as emotional pain. Again, give one happy medium that will alleviate this issue.

              We are a fairly bright group, should be possible to come up with some policy ideas.

              Dennis L.

            • A woman I know who has a son who is a police officer says that having female police officers in the mix also makes it harder to subdue suspects who are trying to get away.

            • This is where robo-cop comes in. It has three sets of arms low, medium and high. It walks up to suspect and puts its arms around suspect firmly. If suspect calms down, in an hour, they can be brought to holding cells by car otherwise the robo-cop can be loaded into a truck with suspect and brought to holding cells. In fact police will be able to work from home just lie everyone else. No need to place police in harms way. Same for teachers.

            • “The toxicology reports says he had Fentanyl, Norfentanyl, Methamphetamine, Morphine, and various forms of THC (the intoxicant in marijuana) in his body. You can see the full list below. The most important finding is Fentanyl, which Floyd had at 11ng/mL. Later in the toxicology report, we find this crucial sentence: “Signs associated with fentanyl toxicity include severe respiratory depression, seizures, hypotension, coma and death. In fatalities from fentanyl, blood concentrations are variable and have been reported as low as 3 ng/mL.” Floyd had more than three times the potentially lethal dose of Fentanyl in his body before the police even showed up.”

              Somebody did go off in search of a “hobble” (leg restraint).

              This analysis of the longer video of the Floyd interaction might be informative:

            • Agreed. Police step three meters back, level their guns, and tell the criminal he has five seconds to surrender or die. If the former, all is well; if the latter, it is “suicide by police” and all is even better.

            • If they want to do without the police, let em’ have it then. The cities are a losing prospect nonetheless. Let the old money get their socialist dystopia they so desire.

        • The odds are he was acting in a way that caused the police to be called… duh!
          Same deal with the guy who was on PCP running around naked in the snow..

        • Harry, I don’t know what happened—I don’t know whether George died from an overdose or died because he “took a knee”, or if the whole thing was a psyop and George was an actor, or if the real George died several years earlier but was “kept on ice” and defrosted in order to play the part of a corpse at this autopsy—but we have the coroner’s report, which may or may not be accurate. That report indicates George had taken enough fentanyl to kill a horse.

          I ferreted around for some info about how long it takes to OD on this drug, and I found the following:

          In the interviews, the participants said that fentanyl powder can be purchased on its own or mixed with heroin. They also said that sometimes, people didn’t know if the heroin they had purchased also contained fentanyl.

          The death records revealed that 82 percent of the fatalities involved the illegal powdered form of the drug, and just 4 percent involved the prescription patch. In 14 percent of the cases, the form of the drug that the person had used was not known.

          The researchers noted that some of the people interviewed said that they specifically sought out fentanyl. Others said they had tried to avoid the drug, but they also said that the possibility that they might wind up with fentanyl, or fentanyl-laced heroin, didn’t stop them from seeking opioids, the researchers found.

          One of the major characteristics that the respondents described was the speed of a fentanyl overdose: Seventy-five percent of the respondents said that the symptoms occurred within seconds to minutes.

          When a person overdoses on heroin, he or she may take the drug and then proceed to carry on a conversation for a few moments, one respondent said. Then suddenly, that person stops talking and “you look over and realize that they’re overdosing,” the respondent said.

          But with fentanyl, the same respondent said that the effect is immediate: “I would say you notice it [a fentanyl overdose] as soon as they are done [injecting the fentanyl]. They don’t even have time to pull the needle out [of their body] and they’re on the ground.”

          Injecting fentanyl was the most common way that a person overdosed on the drug, accounting for 75 percent of the overdoses witnessed, according to the respondents. The remaining 25 percent of the overdoses resulted from people snorting the dug, the researchers said.

          Elsewhere I read that “Street fentanyl may be swallowed, smoked, snorted or injected.”

          If the above is accurate, the following scenario is not outside the bounds of probability. George may have been in possession of a stash that he swallowed at the approach of the police, and he was one minute his smiling normal self, and the next, “I can’t breathe!”

          It’s amazing how incidents such as this one can be viewed from so many perspectives to yield so many vastly different interpretations of what went on. The coverage of this incident is an outstanding contemporary example of the Rashomon Effect.

          • The police have argued that he was not his smiling normal self and that he was already behaving erratically, which was why they decided to arrest him.

            But in a sense the speculation is moot. The autopsies are not definitive. What we have is footage of a white cop kneeling on a black man’s neck for over eight minutes as he dies. Chauvin either contributed to his death (because, let’s be honest, it can’t have helped, right?) or actually caused it.

            Incidents such as George Floyd’s death are primarily of symbolic importance, just as Horst Wessel’s was in 30’s Germany, if you’ll forgive the ironic comparison. They are events onto which opposing groups can project their own prejudices and fuel their mutual antagonism.

            Cops are not well paid and work under enormous pressure – *some* occurrences of excessive force are bound to occur and it is statistically inevitable that some of these will involve white cops and black suspects. If it hadn’t been George Floyd’s
            then some other untoward death would have lit the racial touch paper.

            Social cohesion has already been disintegrating along multiple fault-lines. We could see it in the rise of trade protectionism, the #metoo movement, the trans v feminists row, the toxic political divide in the US, the rising tide of social unrest in multiple nations last year etc. Racially charged divisions are baked into the cake, too.

            Karl has the right idea – stay calm and smoke em if you got em.

            • I agree with much of what you’ve written here, Harry. But I disagree with this:

              “Chauvin either contributed to his death (because, let’s be honest, it can’t have helped, right?) or actually caused it.”

              The evidence presented by the coroner is that George had ingested about four times what would be a lethal dose of fentanyl. So to be honest, if that was the case, I don’t see how Officer Chauvin could have prevented George from dying on short order. Do you?

            • Just for interest, re fentanyl, blood concentrations of it tend to spike post-mortem and are therefore notoriously unreliable for establishing cause of death. And the amount any person can “get away” with ingesting varies enormously depending on their tolerance, which is another unknown in George Floyd’s case.

              So, we cannot know that George had, as you say, taken enough fentanyl to kill a horse and, even if he had, it might not have been enough to kill *him*.

              FWIW my somewhat educated guess is that he was a regular user of fentanyl and other opioids and opiates, and that he injected a speedball of meth and fentanyl some time prior to his arrest.

              Certainly there is no mention in the autopsy reports of any latex or plastic ‘baggie’ of the sort in which you would wrap narcotics being found in his stomach; only, “approximately 450 ml of dark brown fluid with innumerable soft fragments of gray-white food particulate matter resembling bread”.

              Plus any reasonably seasoned drug user knows all too well about fentanyl’s strength and potential lethality. Only someone with a death wish would swallow a large, unwrapped stash in preference to being arrested. And in order to even facilitate that irrational act, George Floyd would have had to first remove the narcotics from their wrapping and dispose of that wrapping whilst pulling his car over. Which would make no sense at all.

            • Certainly there is no mention in the autopsy reports of any latex or plastic ‘baggie’ of the sort in which you would wrap narcotics being found in his stomach

              As you said above, Harry, The autopsies are not definitive.

              What we have is footage of a white cop kneeling on a black man’s neck for over eight minutes as he dies.

              Actually, we have a great deal more than that, including lots of body cam footage and accompanying audio that shows and tells us many things about the details and context of the incident.

              Chauvin either contributed to his death (because, let’s be honest, it can’t have helped, right?) or actually caused it.

              That’s for a jury to decide. My guess is that you are merely jumping to conclusions here and are so sure you are right that you are not the least interested in looking at all the available evidence. And you have the gall to accuse others of bias?

            • The truth doesnt matter. The lines are drawn. All that matters is what side you are on. Growing up in the east coast in public schools there were two gangs. I would be challenged as to which one i belonged and take my best guess. It became much easier when one gang was decimated but then no one cared. When the tide turned it was amazing how fast no one belonged to that gang. And they say you dont learn anything in public schools.

          • This is an excerpt from article posted on American Thinker entitled “Who Killed George Floyd?” The writer’s answer is that George Floyd killed George Floyd.

            Let’s delve into the evidence.

            From Officer Thomas Lane’s body camera, at 8:09 PM, officers approached George’s vehicle, tapped on the window, instructing him to either put his hands up or put his hands on the steering wheel. But George refuses.

            Ten separate times, police either instructed George to let them see his hands, or to put his hands on the wheel. Finally, George puts his hands on the wheel, protesting he had “not done anything.”

            At 8:17 PM, officers walk George across the street. He keeps arguing, as they order him into the back of the squad car.

            “I’m claustrophobic,” he claims, twice, resisting as they again order him to sit in the back seat. He screams, fights and resists getting in the squad car.

            At 8:18:08, still standing beside the car and fighting the officers, he says, for the first time, with no knee on his neck, “I can’t breathe, officer!” At this point, police are still ordering him into the back seat.

            A bystander urges George to stop fighting. “You can’t win,” the bystander says.

            George fights anyway.

            Police push him in the back seat. He keeps resisting.

            Nine seconds later, fighting from the backseat of the police car, George says three times, in rapid succession, beginning at 8:18:19, “I want to lay on the ground! I want to lay on the ground! I want to lay on the ground!” He repeats it a fourth time, five seconds later, ““I want to lay on the ground!”

            Then, as if he knows he is dying, says, “I’m going down.”

            At 8:18:39, fighting in the backseat, he again says, three times in rapid succession, “I can’t breathe!” Then again,” I can’t breathe.” And then, again, at 8:18:50 repeats, “I can’t breathe!”

            At this point, George had demanded to be laid on the ground four times and said “I can’t breathe” at least six times, while in the back seat of the squad car, with no knee on his neck.

            At 8:19:06, he again says, “I can’t breathe,” for the seventh time.

            Of course he can’t breathe. A fentanyl overdose stops a man from breathing.

            George fought the officers non-stop for over ten minutes before officers finally removed him from the car and put him down on the ground, beside the squad car, as George himself demanded.

            Bystanders then film George on the ground, declaring, “I can’t breathe,” as if this was the first time George said, “I can’t breathe,” and as if Officer Chauvin’s knee (not the fentanyl) caused George’s breathing problems.

            Fox 9 in Minneapolis reported that Chief Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker, in a memorandum filed May 26 concluded, “The autopsy revealed no physical evidence suggesting that Mr. Floyd died of asphyxiation.”

            In other words, Dr. Baker initially ruled out Chauvin’s knee as causing George’s death.


            • Both Hennepin County Medical Examiner and the doctor who performed the independent autopsy have concluded that George Floyd’s death *was homicide*. They just differ on whether he expired due to asphyxiation or a heart attack.

              I’m going to go out on a limb and say that American Thinker is not a bastion of objectivity.

            • Harry, you quote from dozens of news and opinion outlets that are not bastions of objectivity. Why single out American Thinker for a vice that you ignore so regularly in other media?

              Could it be because you disagree with what the writer wrote and yet are unable to debunk it to even your own satisfaction and so you opt to cloud the issue by employing the “Look, a rabbit!” stratagem?

              Why can’t you discuss about facts and issues without questioning the motives, morals or character of those who present arguments you disagree with? Is your mindset such that you can’t imagine anybody who doesn’t share your particular perception of reality must be biased? Do you feel the need to always be “right” by “proving” the other “wrong” even at the use of logical fallacies?

              Just asking for a friend who practices psychoanalysis in his lunch-break. 🙂

            • I don’t endorse the worldviews of any of the publications I post, Tim. Few if any of them have an understanding of the issues that Gail writes about. I just try to follow the ‘limits to growth’ story via a patchwork quilt of articles.

              I do avoid any very overtly political publications on both sides of the political divide because they are just too skewed, so, no – you won’t find me posting American Thinker or Breitbart or, for that matter, Counterpunch or Jacobin.

              Your article is an opinion-piece making an extraordinary claim that contradicts both autopsy reports, ie that Chauvin played in effect no role in George Floyd’s death. I would need to see better evidence than you have presented to take it seriously.

            • Your article is an opinion-piece making an extraordinary claim that contradicts both autopsy reports

              Both autopsy reports?

              You are aware, aren’t you, that there are at least FOUR autopsy reports?

              Namely, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker’s autopsy and findings, the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner’s report and autopsy, the two “independent” autopsies and reports generated by Dr. Michael Baden and Dr. Allecia Wilson, respectively?

              If not, I think you should acquaint yourself with the fact of their existence, if not their contents, before making your own extraordinary claims.

              Blimey, for a moment there I thought you had some idea about what you were pontificating about. But now you’ve explained that you confine your reading to “unbiased” media, I’m not surprised that you are ignorant about certain important facts germane to this case.

              This is a link to a Motion to Compel Disclosure filed with the Hennepin District Court on behalf of defendant Tou Thao seeking an order compelling the State to disclose relevant autopsy documents associated with the investigation and death of George Floyd and to continue the issue of causation of death from the September 11, 2020 Omnibus Hearing to a date to be scheduled once the files have been turned over and reviewed by Defense.

              You may find it enlightening. I certainly did. You appear to be under the impression that you know what is in the autopsy reports and are ready to send four men to prison on the basis of your conviction that they deserve conviction, and yet in reality, the State has yet to disclose the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s file, the reports and autopsies performed by Dr. Michael Baden, the reports and autopsy performed by Dr. Allecia Wilson, and the reports and autopsies performed by the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner.

              Click to access Motion08242020.pdf

            • I was referring to both the Hennepin County Medical Examiner autopsy and the independent autopsy, as per my previous comment, Tim. I haven’t claimed to know what was in both of them – just that they ruled that George Floyd’s death was homicide, which is what your AT article is disputing.

              However, I have read the Hennepin County’s autopsy report, which is how I knew what George had in his stomach:


              I have said that I am making “a somewhat educated guess” about what happened to Floyd but because I am disagreeing with your position you are becoming irascible. I am not sending anyone to prison, lol, and if further evidence came to light that suggested these rulings of homicide were unjust then I would revise my views.

              Take a deep breath and pour yourself a sake.

            • I’m sure we’ve all read or watched enough of Agatha Christie’s work to be able to make educated guesses about whether OJ Simpson, George Zimmerman or Officer Chauvin did it. As card-carrying members of the chattering classes, we’re all entitled to voice our opinions in this particular game played with other people’s lives and reputations.

              But at the end of the day, all crime buffs know that forensic autopsy can determine with reasonable certainty how the victim died and estimate the time of death, but it cannot determine why the victim died. And it’s the “why” that’s the crux here.
              Although an examiner may conclude “homicide”, they can’t conclude “murder”, “manslaughter”, “justifiable homicide”, etc. Also, they may not have all the relevant facts at the time of their determination or they may err in their judgement for all sort of reasons.

              It is permissible for other people to question the determinations of examiners and doctors performing autopsies. It is useful, reasonable, and happens all the time.

              If examiners were infallible, one autopsy would be enough. In the Floyd case, four separate autopsies are known to have been carried out.

            • Foy you Tim, in response to the post of September 18, 2020 at 9:13:

              Thank you for injecting a bit of cold, welcome sanity into this debate. All the forensic evidence put together can show only “actus reus”; the reason we have courts, judges and juries is to elucidate “mens rea”. Which has not yet been done; and until it is done we are banging empty kettles.

            • Unfortunately this trial is going to be so racially charged and of such social significance that one wonders to what extent the judge and jury will be able to divorce themselves from those pressures.

              And whatever the result, large swathes of the populace will surely reject it. Negligent homicide won’t be enough, one feels, for Antifa and BLM. Anything more will inflame the right.

    • I ma sure that policies will be rewritten to exclude this kind of coverage. Otherwise, prices for property coverage in inner cities will skyrocket, forcing out businesses that were on the edge of collapsing already. In fact, it could be the latter that is the most important outcome of these insured payments.

      • Essentially, this makes running a business in these locations impossible. Again, society needs norms of behavior, if perceived injustices are going to result in destruction of businesses, unless the business is sufficiently profitable to withstand this destruction, those areas will be without support.

        The Minneapolis papers are reporting issues with police not showing at calls in a timely manner. Again, norms of behavior, if all calls are to be answered with lawsuits, calls will not be answered.

        A huge amount of capital was destroyed in the Cities along with trust. We live as a group, we need other groups, without norms of behavior such cooperation is impossible.

        Dennis L.

        • Dennis, have you not understood that “norms of behavior” are themselves systemically racist and, therefore, currently unacceptable? Blacks cannot be expected to work hard, to be self-reliant and autonomous, to have intact families, to understand cause and effect, or to think objectively or rationally. They cannot be expected to plan for the future, to delay gratification, to respect authority, to make progress, or to follow time schedules. They cannot be expected to be polite, to avoid conflict, or to accurately follow or reproduce written or spoken English. All of the preceding characteristics are deemed part of the rejected “dominant white culture”.

          So says the National Museum of African American History:

          Short of apartheid, there’s nothing to be done about it. It’s all good, though, in the service of entropy. In energy terms, maybe Gail is right about it all burning down. The cost of public policing and any kind of cultural conservation may not be affordable even if we could stomach what it would take to preserve civil society (not just in the US, but anywhere in the world..). Those with means will retreat into gated communities with private security for the remaining time we have left. It will be a return to the feudal landscape, and we will have to hire “bravos” if we want to walk about unmolested. I think I remember Dmitry Orlov saying that happened after the collapse of the USSR.

          • Reasonable assessment for the most part. But it’s important to see that the new Apartheid is occurring under black governments, South Africa being a prominent case in point. Misgovernance by black political elites is very determinative in jeopardising black wellfare. The main avenue for misgovernance, it seems, is the absence of planning and the prevalence of gentrifying development. It’s complicated.

            • And to your point (and thanks!) poor blacks can least afford the lack of planning or the onslaught of mainstream real estate development (that we are told will lift them out of whatever mire they’re supposed to be in). Those combined only function as a means of ethnic cleansing.

  2. “Investment flows between China and the US fell to their lowest level in almost a decade in the first half of the year… Capital flows between the two countries amounted to $10.9bn in the first six months of 2020, lower than any period since 2011…

    “US-China relations have fallen to their lowest point in decades following the coronavirus pandemic, which exacerbated frictions over trade and ushered in fears of a “cold war” chill between the world’s two largest economies.”

  3. “The head of macro strategies at Record Currency Management, which oversees $63bn in assets, is reportedly shorting government bonds of Spain, France and Italy—as well as the euro itself—on the expectation that Turkey’s market ructions will soon be felt on the balance sheets of European banks.”

    • “Moody’s Investors Service said it downgraded the ratings of 13 Turkish banks after recently revising Turkey’s sovereign bond rating to B2 from B1, with the negative outlook maintained.

      “The outlooks on the long-term deposit and debt ratings of all the Turkish banks rated by Moody’s remain negative, in line with the negative outlook on the sovereign rating. The negative outlooks reflect the downside risks associated with a balance of payments crisis, which could lead to capital controls and restrictions on foreign currency outflows, the ratings agency said in a statement on Tuesday.”

      • The system appears to have more lives than a reincarnating cat, so perhaps we can we hopeful of survival for a few more years yet.

    • Encouraged by the idiot oligarchs of Brussels,many EU countries lent money to Turkey with minimal oversight, supposedly to help them prepare to enter the EU themselves. Turkey then squandered the money on armaments, internal repression, and adventurism in the Eastern Mediterranean, including their current blatant attempt to steal resources that are not rightfully theirs.

      So will Brussels or the ECB step in to help the countries they deceived? Pull the other one: the centre never helps the periphery.

  4. “South African banks have made their rainy-day provisions. Now, they must wait and see whether the funds set aside will be enough to manage a potential torrent of bad debt and ease pressure on their earnings in coming months.

    “The country’s so-called “Big Four” experienced a profit slump deeper than that seen during the global financial crisis in the six months ended June…”

    • According to the article: “South Africa’s economy contracted for seven of the last ten quarters.” It seems to be past peak coal.

      The economy seems to have real problems, with or without COVID-19.

  5. “Private equity groups including TPG and Apax Partners are taking advantage of blockbuster demand for corporate debt by loading companies they own with fresh loans and using the cash to award themselves a bumper payday.

    “So-called dividend recapitalisations have become a feature of the loan market in recent weeks, ringing alarm bells since they come on top of already high leverage and weak investor protections and against a backdrop of economic uncertainty.”

    • ^^^This makes me so queasy I’m going to have to clumsily juxtapose it with this:

      ““If you’re a day laborer and you’re told you can’t leave your shack one day, the next day you’ve got no income to buy food,” noted Mark Lowcock, the United Nations’ humanitarian chief. “I would bet my house that there’s going to be an increase in poverty head count, an increase in child mortality, an increase in maternal mortality.””

      • Yet the NYT does all it can to spread this evil hoax. I suppose that disasters suit their business model.

        It is interesting how often virtue signaling works like that.

        • PC overload is stunning during the last 6 months Kim. To me, it is rising to absurd levels. I live in the Netherlands, every commercial has a diversity overload. There is an agenda here. Like Gail said, some regions, cultures, skin colors or groups will be ‘cut off’ when the time comes. They know, and they started to spin the wheels faster.

          • The agenda is focused on depopulation, and that entails mass murder of one kind or another. Deprive people of their lives directly, or deprive them of their livelihoods and by so doing destroy their means of life: It amounts to the same thing in the end.

            And yet, world population is still increasing, so the depopulation effort has yet to yield the degree of success that Bill Gates, for one, seems to be aiming at.

            • No need for an agenda on depopulation when overshoot is around the corner. It will do a better job, at zero cost.

              Too obvious for a conspirationist I guess.

            • VFatalis, there’s no money to be made in just letting people starve naturally.

              Middlemen must be paid.

              One man’s “cost” is another man’s gravy train.

            • Yes, the entitled useless eaters, the masters of hypocrisy must redistribute misery equally to everybody except for them.

      • As much as a cataclysm for the poor as the principal earner actually falling sick: in fact far worse, due to the long-term effects, national, regional and global, of these imbecilic and wholly unnecessary total lock-downs.

        It’s quite sickening.

        • I looked at what Dennis Meadows said in his December 2019 interview with Chris Martenson.

          If you have a stock of people, which we do now of 7.5 billion people, too large to be supported by the planet, it has to go down. It will go down one way or another. There are only two ways it can go down. The birth rate can decline – that’s the input flow – or the death rate can increase, and that’s the output flow.

          We have been working as a species for a long time very hard to reduce the death rate. We haven’t put much energy into reducing the birth rate. And so one way or another, those two flows will come back into balance.

          If we choose how they do that, we’re more likely to be happy with the results. If we ignore the problem and let the planet set them to be equal, then probably that will operate to the death rate in ways that we’re not very happy with.

          The lockdowns seem to be one way this is happening. Meadows also said,

          It’s an unfortunate fact that the poor and dis-powered who, by and large, haven’t caused these problems are going to be the first ones and the most serious ones to experience them. Somebody like you who’s rich, smart, and mobile will probably be able to move around, at least for yourself and your immediate colleagues, structure an existence which is acceptable to you.

          Self-organizing systems work in strange ways.

          • This is not strange Gail. It is nature. Tribalism, whatever. Just make sure you’re in the tribe that survives.

            We love to watch how the lion eats the old and weak first, while making donations to Africa.

            I guess we learned too little, too late.

          • Meadows always seems to emanate sanity.

            Martenson and his son had quite row, on their site, with a lady who reproached them for only offering ‘solutions’ applicable to the well-heeled. I believe she was banned in the end (might be wrong there.)

  6. The New York Times
    It’s Not Just the West. These Places Are Also on Fire.
    Veronica Penney
    Wed, September 16, 2020, 2:58 PM EDT
    “We don’t have a fire problem; we have many fire problems,” said Stephen J. Pyne, an emeritus professor at Arizona State University who studies wildfires and their history. “One, obviously, is a deep one. It has to do with fossil fuels and climate.
    The Arctic as a whole is experiencing warming at more than twice the pace of the rest of the world. Record-low snow cover, high temperatures and dry soils, almost certainly a result of human-caused climate change, have all contributed to the fires.
    …In July, Central Kalimantan province on Borneo declared a state of emergency as fires burned out of control. That followed severe fires in Indonesia last year and in 2015, the year of a drought in the country that was linked to El Niño, the periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean that can affect weather worldwide.
    The worst fires on record are burning now in the Pantanal wetlands in the country’s south. Farther north, in the Amazon rainforest, tens of thousands of fires are still burning after a summer of blazes. In June, Brazilian officials called the Amazon fires the worst in 13 years.
    As in Indonesia, deforestation for agriculture is a primary culprit. Farmers and ranchers cut down trees on the edge of the rainforest and set them on fire to clear the land for crops or grazing. But climate change is a force multiplier: During droughts like the current one in the country, those fires penetrate farther into forests, burning more trees and causing more damage
    Argentina’s Fires are raging now across grasslands in the Paraná Delta and around farmland in central Argentina, where farmers and ranchers have been burning fields for a century to improve their soil. This year, the fires got out of control
    At the beginning of this year, Australia was just emerging from its worst wildfire season on record. Thousands of homes were lost, and millions of acres burned. At least 30 people died. Estimates of the number of animals killed range between a few hundred million and 1 billion.
    Thank the Lord 💗 😘 we can’t control it,vjustbwatch it burn

    • Fire is part of the natural renewal cycle. It happens because ecosystems are dissipative structures. We have failed to recognize this. Fires are very much to be expected. We have made a business of suppressing fires.

      • We made a business of suppressing fires because of “real estate”. Put a house in a tinderbox desert, because of “development”, why, of course.

      • Doubt that occurs in the Attic …seems the climate is changing weather sic we like iit it not!🤭

        • Fire is part of the natural cycle, with or without climate change. This is even true in the arctic.

          It is even true in inner cities, when unhappy citizens set fire to businesses.

          Fire is a quick way of producing collapse of one dissipative structure or ecosystem. This indirectly allows new, better adapted systems of a somewhat similar type to evolve. That is the way the system is set up to work.

          • What devastated the inner cities were freeways running through them, starting in the 50’s and 60’s. Then the Civil Rights Movement and middle class flight put the nail in the coffin.

            • You are probably right. At one point, people walked to the store. Or families shared one vehicle. Sometimes they had groceries delivered.

              But once freeways went in, then stores could move outside the city limits and have big parking lots. Or customers could drive to a bigger city, to find a bigger store. The downtown was no longer needed.

  7. Only 86.2% of renters made full or partial rent payments by September 13 — the lowest mid-month payment rate since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to new data released this morning.
    Almost 14% of renters had not paid any rent by September 13, up from the previous high of 12.4% delinquent renters in August and up from 11.3% in September 2019, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council’s (NMHC) rent tracker, which compiles statistics from major real estate data providers including Entrata, MRI Software, RealPage, ResMan, and Yardi.
    “The second week of September figures shows ongoing deterioration of rent payment figures — representing hundreds of thousands of households who are increasingly at risk,” said Doug Bibby, NMHC president, in a statement. “Many apartment residents continue to prioritize their housing obligations and that apartment owners and operators remain committed to meeting them halfway with creative and nuanced approaches.”

    I’ve rented a good portion of my life and was lucky not to be in a position of being unable to meet monthly rental payments. The payoff was lots of iunworry and freedom to move or relocate, which I did.
    With rents the way they are now, glad I dont anymore.
    Seen others less fortunate and very stressful for both tenants and owner/manager…
    Rental property is a great wealth builder….we live in interesting times now. Friend of my with a triple decker in Massachusetts is having difficulty collecting and not happy. Just the way it is

  8. The FT has a new opinion piece on Scottish independence.

    Like Gail, Stephens sees the issue as one of unnecessary centralisation, although he does not have an energy perspective. Expensive energy will necessitate the stripping away of the layers of complexity involved in supranational centralisation.

    Stephen’s sees the TP intent to firm up UK centralisation as the biggest threat to UK. That, compounded by the TP ‘strategy’ to refuse a referendum, and to then cave in and to argue that Scotland is incapable of doing well outside UK, is calculated to break UK.

    He seems pretty resigned to that outcome. It is not ‘predetermined’ in his opinion but personages are going to do what personages are going to do.


    Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan will break the UK union

    The insistence that England must decide what Scotland eats is a gift to the independence movement

    ….There is something to be said for the long view. The Anglo-Scottish union of 1707 was a contingent agreement. Mr Johnson’s remark this year that there is “no such thing” as a border between the two nations was a measure of indifference as well as ignorance. Scotland did not give up its border or its nationhood — nor its distinct legal and educational systems. 

    The union was about collaboration abroad. Scotland secured access to the emerging British empire, and England to talented entrepreneurs, engineers and administrators. With empire long gone, Brexit has put an end to any notion of a joint enterprise beyond British shores. Instead, Scotland is presented with a choice: if it sticks with England, it cuts itself off from Europe….

    History is written by human agency. Brexit, such a government would continue, can be the occasion for a new settlement between the four constituent parts of the union. Power reclaimed from Brussels will be distributed to every corner of the UK.

    Mr Johnson has taken the opposite course. Publicly he declares himself a unionist; privately, Whitehall officials report, he is heard to scorn Scotland as “too leftwing” — spending money raised from English taxpayers on lavish welfare. The prejudice is reflected in the legislation now before parliament to create a UK single market.

    Beyond the controversial clauses that would renege on provisions in the withdrawal agreement to keep an open border in Ireland, the essential purpose of the new law is to tighten England’s grip over the rest of the UK. 

    Decisions over food and environment norms, labour law and industrial standards hitherto shared with Brussels will belong solely to Westminster. Powers over health and education held by the Scottish and Welsh parliaments and Northern Ireland assembly will be diluted. Westminster will decide whether to scrap the animal husbandry rules that presently bar imports of American chlorinated chicken….

    A common set of rules is certainly needed to allow the UK market to operate freely. Yet there is no reason why the other nations of the union should be barred a say in negotiating trade deals and the setting of standards, or that UK-wide norms must exclude a measure of national discretion. But no, English MPs at Westminster will decide what Scotland eats. 

    In truth, the legislation — as bluntly condemned by a pro-union government in Wales as by Ms Sturgeon — is a gift to Scottish nationalism, proof that centrist Scotland is now a prisoner of rightwing English Conservativism.

    Mr Johnson’s response to criticism of this English-fits-all approach is to insist he will simply block independence. Even if, as the polls suggest, the Scottish Nationalists win a mandate in next year’s Edinburgh elections, he will prevent a referendum. If that fails, there is a back-up plan. Scottish voters will again be told that their reliance on fiscal transfers from England mean they cannot afford independence.

    Both approaches serve the nationalists: the first by legitimising the SNP charge that England is locking Scotland into a state of vassalage; the second by displaying a condescending contempt calculated to energise nationalists. Of course, independence would bring severe economic challenges. But if there was a lesson from the Brexit vote in 2016 it was that identity trumps economics.

    Whatever the outcome of the present furore over lawbreaking, Brexit has also weakened the bonds between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain. The strains on the union, though, start with the balance between Westminster and Edinburgh. Break-up may not be preordained, but none looks so determined as Mr Johnson to force Scotland’s hand.

    – Financial Times

    • ” … a condescending contempt calculated to energise nationalists.” Scotland has been sponging England’s money for the past three hundred years, and rewarding us by spitting in our faces. I would say the contempt is richly deserved. And if they don’t like it, they can go in peace, and spend their own money for a change.

      • But Robert, isn’t it true that the lion’s share of the remaining North Sea oil lies in what would become Scottish waters if Scotland became independent? Given that, can we truly say that England is subsidising Scotland?

        Admittedly, given the oil price, the remaining North Sea oil would not be so valuable as in former days, but it is surely still worth having. Meanwhile, England would still have the City, which is worth having as long as BAU lasts.

        • Here’s Robert most evilly trying to destroy little Scotland. The little red-haired fellow in the video reminds me of the long dead English comedian Charlie Drake.

  9. The human civilization is based on the agriculture. If we take into account how much is agriculture subsidized, we see that e.g. European Union is in deep trouble. Together with all of the countries that inject huge amounts of funds into supporting low prices of agricultural products.

    Subsidizing oil or natural gas production is another way how to hide the escalating costs. Financing more and more people needed for the care of the rising proportion of the elderly and the disabled is another type of subsidy.

    To the eyes of the ordinary people, who do not read reports, all may seem normal, but one day the breaking point comes quite unexpected, when the subsidies of various kinds swallow the resources needed for growth and the system starts to implode.

      • Yes.
        Gathering, Hunting. Agriculture.
        These are the three stages of the development of the human species: gathering means picking from stationary objects, hunting means pursuing moving objects and agriculture is picking from stationary objects. That way agriculture is a modification of gatherin using additional energy. Now, from the fossil fuels.

        The story in the Bible, where the man started agriculture after being expelled from Eden is clearly about the additional energy.

        Hunting is a secondary way of getting energy from food, requiring increased human effort, nothing for slow apes. It needs accelerated movement, which in turn needs more energy. From the animals itself. That is why it plays no role in the Bible story of human origin.

        The Bible story is about getting more, which is achieved using additional energy. Not from food itself, like it is in the case of hunting.

        • Genesis 1-3 is presumably symbolic and Eve never got chatted up by a talking snake.

          It is tempting to interpret the ‘tree’ as agriculture, the exact sort of fruit-bearing tree that humans would plant.

          Thus the story can be read as marking the transition from hunter-gathering to agriculture. It attributes ‘toil’ to the latter state and maybe H-G was a more chilled lifestyle.

          It is the ‘fall’ of man from the ‘natural’ state of H-G, the departure from the animal kingdom of H-G. Man becomes a ‘creator’, a producer (of food) and not just a consumer.

          The Bible story culminates in Revelations with the ‘restoration’ in the ‘new heaven and earth’, the golden city in which all is once again provided without toil.

          Of course, that is just an interpretation and others that are just as ‘valid’ are also made. Often they focus on human psychological development but it is hard to ignore the cultural transition.

          And of course there is the internal theological explanation of human alienation from God and from the innocent condition.

          Marx can also be read as a teleology in which the ‘self-alienation’ of labour is overcome, which is not entirely different to the Bible teleology.

          But yes, the transition from H-G to agriculture is a transition to a new scenario of energy production and consumption.

          Theologically one could interpret it as an historical, teleological outworking of the creature’s approximation to God as omnipotent (harnessing unlimited power) as its ‘form’ or likeness.

          The telos would be reached in the unity of the will of humans with that of God, in heaven, in which both have the same intentions and therefore the same omnipotence as their means – a sort of human quasi-omnipotence in total unity of will and full dependence on God.

          Orthodox eschatology (like mine) sees Revelations as symbolic of a final unity and dependence in heaven, while some millennial Protestant sects like JWs interpret it as itself the final state. The ‘orthodox’ is perhaps the more ‘ecstatic’ interpretation of the final unity.

          It seems theologically legitimate to interpret cosmic and human history as the outworking of the ‘will to power’ of God, its cosmic manifestation as inorganic force and organic function, and the gradual subjection of all to his will.

          I am not theological myself but it is not without some interest to me. It is often inchoate philosophy – the noumenon, which may or may not exist, by definition no one really knows.

          • Gathering, like agriculture, can be performed also by the weak and old persons. Hunting requires youthful strong persons.

            • Right, so one would imagine that the evolutionary pressures of hunting, to select and to breed a strong, healthy, fit population, is somewhat mitigated by the relative ease of gathering, and it is largely removed by agriculture. Arguably the species was physically on the downward path right there.

              Genesis 3 is pretty down on agriculture. It attitributes population expansion and hierarchy, patriarchy to the agricultural lifestyle, and also ‘sorror, toil, death’. Genesis seems to frame the downsides of agriculture as a punishment, a state of cursedness for a sin against the deity.

              It seems that the negative impact of agriculture on human health was complicated, with additional disease vectors, seasonal food shortages and the nutritional inadequacy of carbs. We have learnt how to retrieve and sequence ancient DNA only over the last decade, so we may soon be able to detect a general genetic decline due to the shift to agriculture and the removal of the old selective pressures.

              > Stature and robusticity during the agricultural transition: evidence from the bioarchaeological record


              The population explosion that followed the Neolithic revolution was initially explained by improved health experiences for agriculturalists. However, empirical studies of societies shifting subsistence from foraging to primary food production have found evidence for deteriorating health from an increase in infectious and dental disease and a rise in nutritional deficiencies. In Paleopathology at the Origins of Agriculture (Cohen and Armelagos, 1984), this trend towards declining health was observed for 19 of 21 societies undergoing the agricultural transformation. The counterintuitive increase in nutritional diseases resulted from seasonal hunger, reliance on single crops deficient in essential nutrients, crop blights, social inequalities, and trade. In this study, we examined the evidence of stature reduction in studies since 1984 to evaluate if the trend towards decreased health after agricultural transitions remains. The trend towards a decrease in adult height and a general reduction of overall health during times of subsistence change remains valid, with the majority of studies finding stature to decline as the reliance on agriculture increased. The impact of agriculture, accompanied by increasing population density and a rise in infectious disease, was observed to decrease stature in populations from across the entire globe and regardless of the temporal period during which agriculture was adopted, including Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, South America, and North America.


    • One of the most interesting and important developments in agriculture apart from the angle you just described is the recent revealing trend where even the “best practice-case” examples of permaculture / biointensive farmers [now suddenly] revert from volunteer-edu-internship labor into smaller pro cadre of core competent employees, beside the hands-on owner/family.

      That’s not to say coops (model) won’t survive in the mix of available agri options, but the “human nature” seems to go back to default settings of tighter direct ownership and commanding structure over resources.. The virus and overall econ-social chaos just fuels this mega trend.

      • Interesting. It used to be proverbial here that a farmer would come to ruin unless he decided, ordered, and his men obeyed. One can’t order volunteers about, so a reversion to an older, stricter pattern makes sense.

Comments are closed.