Fossil Fuel Production Is Reaching Limits in a Strange Way

Strangely enough, the limit we seem to be reaching with respect to fossil fuel extraction comes from low prices. At low prices, the extraction of oil, coal, and natural gas becomes unprofitable. Producers go bankrupt, or they voluntarily cut back production in an attempt to force prices higher. As the result of these forces, production tends to fall. This limit comes long before the limit that many people imagine: the amount of fossil fuels in the ground that seems to be available with current extraction techniques.

The last time there was a similar problem was back in 1913, when coal was the predominant fossil fuel used and the United Kingdom was the largest coal producer in the world. The cost of production was rising due to depletion, but coal prices would not rise sufficiently to cover the higher cost of production. As a result, the United Kingdom’s coal production reached its highest level in 1913, the year before World War I started, and began to fall in 1914.

Between 1913 and 1945, the world economy was very troubled. There were two world wars, the Spanish Flu pandemic and the Great Depression. My concern is that we are again headed into another very troubled period that could last for many years.

The way the energy problems of the period between 1913 and 1945 were resolved was through the rapid ramp-up of oil production. Oil was, as that time, inexpensive to produce and could be sold for a very large multiple of the cost of production. If population is to remain at the current level or possibly grow, we need a similar “energy savior.” Unfortunately, none of the alternatives we are looking at now yield a high enough return relative to the required investment.

I recently gave a talk to an engineering group interested in energy research talking about these issues. In this post, I will discuss the slides of this presentation. A PDF of the presentation can be found at this link.

The Low Oil Price Problem

Oil prices seem to bounce around wildly. One major issue is that there is a two-way tug of war between the prices that citizens can afford and the prices that oil companies require. We can look back now and say that the mid-2008 price of over $150 per barrel was too high for consumers. But strangely enough, oil producers began complaining about oil prices being too low to cover their rising cost levels, starting in 2012. Prices, at a 2019 cost level, were at about $120 per barrel at that time. I wrote about this issue in the post, Beginning of the End? Oil Companies Cut Back on Spending. Oil prices now are in the $40 range, so are way, way below both $120 per barrel and $150 per barrel.

Interest rates and the availability of debt also play a role in oil prices. If interest rates are low and debt is readily available, it is easy to buy a new home or new car, and oil prices tend to rise because of the higher demand. When prices are too low for producers, central banks have been able to lower interest rates through a program called “quantitative easing.” This program seems to have helped oil prices to rise again, over a three-year period, after they crashed in 2008.

OPEC producers are known for their low cost of production, but even they report needing high oil prices. The cost of extracting the oil is reported to be very low (perhaps $10 per barrel), but the price charged needs to be high enough to allow governments to collect very high taxes on the oil extracted. If prices are high enough, these countries can continue the food subsidies that their populations depend upon. They can also sponsor development programs to provide jobs for the ever-growing populations of these countries. OPEC producers also need to develop new oil fields because the old ones deplete.

Oil production outside of the United States and Canada entered a bumpy plateau in 2005. The US and Canada added oil production from shale and bitumen in recent years, helping to keep world oil production (including natural gas liquids) rising.

One reason why producers need higher prices is because their cost of extraction tends to rise over time. This happens because the oil that is cheapest to extract and process tends to be extracted first, leaving the oil with higher cost of extraction until later. 

Some OPEC countries, such as Saudi Arabia, can hide the low price problem for a while by borrowing money. But even this approach does not work well for long. The longer low oil prices last, the greater the danger is of governments being overthrown by unhappy citizens. Oil production can then be expected to become erratic because of internal conflicts.

In the US and Canada, oil companies have been funded by bank loans, bond sales and the sale of shares of stock. These sources of funding are drying up, as many oil companies report poor earnings, year after year, and some are seeking bankruptcy protection. 

Chart 6 shows that the number of drilling rigs in operation has dropped dramatically in both the United States and Canada, as oil companies cut back on drilling. There is a lag between the time the number of drilling rigs is cut back and the time production starts to fall of perhaps a year, in the case of shale. These low drilling rig counts suggest that US and Canadian oil production from shale will fall in 2021.

Of course, unused drilling rigs cannot be mothballed indefinitely. At some point, they are sold as scrap and the workers who operated them find other employment. It then becomes difficult to restart oil extraction.

How the Economy Works, and What Goes Wrong as Limits Are Reached

Slide 7 shows one way of visualizing how the world economy, as a self-organizing system, operates. It is somewhat like a child’s building toy. New layers are added as new consumers, new businesses and new laws are added. Old layers tend to disappear, as old consumers die, old products are replaced by new products, and new laws replace old laws. Thus, the structure is to some extent hollow.

Self-organizing objects that grow require energy under the laws of physics. Our human bodies are self-organizing systems that grow. We use food as our source of energy. The economy also requires energy products of many kinds, such as gasoline, jet fuel, coal and electricity to allow it to operate.

It is easy to see that energy consumption allows the economy to produce finished goods and services, such as homes, automobiles, and medical services. It is less obvious, but just as important, that energy consumption provides jobs that pay well. Without energy supplies in addition to food, typical jobs would be digging in the dirt with a stick or gathering food with our hands. These jobs don’t pay well.

Finally, Slide 7 shows an important equivalence between consumers and employees. If consumers are going to be able to afford to buy the output of the economy, they need to have adequate wages.

A typical situation that arises is that population rises more quickly than energy resources, such as land to grow food. For a while, it is possible to work around this shortfall with what is called added complexity: hierarchical organization, specialization, technology, and globalization. Unfortunately, as more complexity is added, the economic system increasingly produces winners and losers. The losers end up with very low wage jobs, or with no jobs at all. The winners get huge wages and often asset ownership, as well. The winners end up with far more revenue than they need to purchase basic goods and services. The losers often do not have enough revenue to feed their families and to buy basic necessities, such as a home and some form of basic transportation.

The strange way the economy works has to do with the physics of the situation. Physicist Francois Roddier explains this as being similar to what happens to water at different temperatures. When the world economy has somewhat inadequate energy supplies, the goods and services produced by the economy tend to bubble to the top members of the world economy, similar to the way steam rises. The bottom members of the economy tend to get “frozen out.” This way, the economy can downsize without losing all members of the economy, simultaneously. This is the way ecosystems of all kinds adapt to changing conditions: The plants and animals that are best adapted to the conditions of the time tend to be the survivors.

These issues are related to the fact that the economy is, in physics terms, a dissipative structure. The economy, like hurricanes and like humans, requires adequate energy if it is not to collapse. Dissipative structures attempt to work around temporary shortfalls in energy supplies. A human being will lose weight if his caloric intake is restricted for a while. A hurricane will lose speed, if the energy it gets from the warm water of the ocean is restricted. A world economy with inadequate energy is likely to shrink back in many ways: unprofitable businesses may fail, layers of government may disappear and population may fall, for example.

In the discussion of Slide 7, I mentioned the fact that if we try to “stretch” energy supply with added complexity, many workers would end up with very low wages. Some of these low wage workers would be in the US and Europe, but many of them would be in China, India and Africa. Even though these workers are producing goods for the world economy, they often cannot afford to buy those same goods themselves. Henry Ford is remembered to have said something to the effect that he needed to pay his workers enough so that they, themselves, could buy the cars they were making. To a significant extent, this is no longer happening when a person takes into account international workers.

The high interest rates that low-wage workers pay mean that loans don’t really help low-wage workers as much as they help high-wage workers. The high interest on credit card debt and personal loans tend to transfer part of the income of low-wage workers to the financial sector, leaving poor people worse off than they would have been without the loans. 

COVID shutdowns are extremely damaging to the world economy. They are like taking support sticks out of the dome on Slide 7. They produce many more unemployed people around the world. People in low wage countries that produce clothing for a living have been particularly hard hit, for example. Migrant workers and miners of various kinds have also been hard hit.

We Seem to Be Reaching a Major Turning Point

Oil production and consumption have both fallen in 2020; oil prices are far too low for producers; wage disparity is a major problem; countries seem to be increasingly having problems getting along. Many analysts are forecasting a prolonged recession.

The last time that we had a similar situation was in 1913, when the largest coal producer in the world was the United Kingdom. The UK’s cost of coal production kept rising because of depletion (deeper mines, thinner seams), but prices would not rise to compensate for the higher cost of production. Miners were paid very inadequate wages; poor workers regularly held strikes for higher wages. World War I started in 1914, the same year coal production of the UK started to fall. The UK’s coal production has fallen nearly every year since then.

The last time that wage disparity started to spike as badly as it has in recent years occurred back in the late 1920s, or perhaps as early as 1913 to 1915.  The chart shown above is for the US; problems were greater in Europe at that time.

With continued low oil prices, production is likely to start falling and may continue to fall for years. It is hard to bring scrapped drilling rigs back into service, for example. The experience in the UK with coal shows that energy prices don’t necessarily rise to compensate for higher costs due to depletion. There need to be buyers for higher-priced goods made with higher-priced coal. If there is too much wage disparity, the many poor people in the system will tend to keep demand, and prices, too low. They may eat poorly, making it easier for pandemics to spread, as with the Spanish Flu in 1918-1919. These people will be unhappy, leading to the rise of leaders promising to change the system to make things better.

My concern is that we may be heading into a long period of unrest, as occurred in the 1913 to 1945 era. Instead of getting high energy prices, we will get disruption of the world economy.  The self-organizing economy is attempting to fix itself, either by getting more energy supply or by eliminating parts of the economy that aren’t contributing enough to the overall system. Conflict between countries, pandemics, bankruptcies and economic contraction are likely to be part of the mix.

Coal Seems to Be Reaching Extraction Limits as Well 

Coal has essentially the same problem as oil: Prices tend to be too low for producers to extract coal profitably. Many coal producers have gone bankrupt. Prices were higher back in 2008, when demand was high for everything, and again in 2011, when quantitative easing had been helpful. 

There have been stories in the press in the past week about China limiting coal imports from Australia, so as to make more jobs for coal miners in China. The big conflict among countries relates to “not enough jobs that pay well” and “not enough profitable companies.” These indirectly are energy issues. If there was more “affordability” of goods made with high-priced coal, there would be no problem.

Coal production worldwide has been on a bumpy plateau since 2012. In fact, China, the largest producer of coal, found its production stagnating, starting about 2012. The problem was a familiar one: The cost of extraction rose because many mines that had been used for quite a number of years were depleted. The selling price would not rise to match the higher cost of extraction because of affordability issues.

The underlying problem is that the economy is a dissipative structure. Commodity prices are set by the laws of physics. Prices don’t rise high enough for producers, if there are not enough customers willing and able to buy the goods made with high-priced coal.

We Have a Major Problem if Both Coal and Oil Production Are in Danger of Falling Because of Low Prices

Oil and coal are the two largest sources of energy in the world. We can’t get along without them. While natural gas production is fairly high, there is not nearly enough natural gas to replace both oil and coal.

Looking down the list, we see that nuclear production hit a maximum back in 2006 and has fallen since then.

Hydroelectric continues to grow, but from a small base. Most of the good sites have already been taken. In many cases, there are conflicts between countries regarding who should get the benefit of water from a given river.

The only grouping that is growing rapidly is Renewables. (This is really Renewables Other than Hydroelectric.) It includes wind and solar plus a few other energy types, including geothermal. This grouping, too, is very small compared to oil and coal.

Natural Gas Has a Low Price Problem as Well

Natural gas, at first glance, looks like it might be a partial solution to the world’s energy problems: It is lower in carbon than coal and oil, and it is fairly abundant. The problem with natural gas is that it is terribly expensive to ship. At one time, people used to talk about there being a lot of “stranded” natural gas. This natural gas seemed to be available, but when shipping costs were included, the price of goods made with it (such as electricity or winter heat for homes) was often unaffordable.

After the run-up in oil prices in the early 2000s, many people became optimistic that, with energy scarcity, natural gas prices would rise sufficiently to make extraction and shipping long distances profitable. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly clear that, while prices can temporarily spike due to scarcity and perhaps a debt bubble, keeping the prices up for the long run is extremely difficult. Customers need to be able to afford the goods and services made with these energy products, or the laws of physics bring market prices back down to an affordable level.

The prices in the chart reflect three different natural gas products. The lowest priced one is US Henry Hub, which is priced near the place of extraction, so long distance shipping is not an issue. The other two, German Import and Japan Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), include different quantities of long distance shipping. Prices in 2020 are even lower than in 2019. For example, some LNG imported by Japan has ben purchased for $4 per million Btu in 2020.

The Economy Needs a Bail-Out Similar to the Growth of Oil After WWII

The oil that was produced shortly after World War II had very important characteristics:

  1. It was very inexpensive to produce, and
  2. It could be sold to customers at a far higher price than its cost of production.

It was as if, today, we had a very useful energy product that could be produced and delivered for $4, but it was so valuable to consumers that they were willing to pay $120 for it. In other words, the consumer was willing to pay 30 times as much as the cost that went into extracting and refining the oil.

With an energy product this valuable, a company producing it would need virtually no debt. It could drill a well or two, and with the profits from the first wells, finance the investment of many more wells. The company could pay very high taxes, allowing governments to build roads, schools, electricity transmission lines and much other infrastructure, without having to raise taxes on citizens.

Besides using the profits for reinvestment and for taxes, oil companies could pay high dividends. This made oil company stocks favorites of pension plans. Thus, in a way, oil company profits could help subsidize pension plans, as well.

Now, because of depletion, we have reached a situation where oil companies, and in fact most companies, are unprofitable. Companies and governments keep adding debt at ever lower interest rates. In fact, the tradition of ever-increasing debt at ever-lower interest rates goes back to 1981. Thus, we have been using debt manipulation to hide energy problems for almost 40 years now.

We need a way to counteract this trend toward ever-lower returns. Some people talk about “Energy Return on Energy Investment” or EROEI. I gave an example in dollars, but a major thing those dollars are buying is energy, so the result is very similar.

I think researchers have set the “bar” far too low, in looking at what is an adequate EROEI. Today’s wind and solar don’t really have an adequate EROEI, when the full cost of delivery is included. If they did, they would not need the subsidy of “going first” on the electric grid. They would also be able to pay high taxes instead of requiring subsidies, year after year. We need much better solutions than the ones we have today.

Some researchers talk about “Net Energy per Capita,” calculated as ((Energy Delivered to the End User) minus (Energy Used in Making and Transporting Energy to the End User)) divided by (Population). It seems to me that Net Energy per Capita needs to stay at least constant, and perhaps rise. If net energy per capita could actually rise, it would allow the economy to increasingly fight depletion and pollution.

Conclusion: We Need a New Very Inexpensive Energy Source Now

We need a new, very inexpensive energy source that buyers will willingly pay a disproportionately high price for right now, not 20 or 50 years from now.

The alternative may be an economy that does poorly for a long time or collapses completely.

The one ray of hope, from a researcher’s perspective, is the fact that people are always looking for solutions. They may be able to provide funds for research at this time, even if funds for full implementation are unlikely.

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.
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2,885 Responses to Fossil Fuel Production Is Reaching Limits in a Strange Way

  1. Harry McGibbs says:

    “One in five New York City tenants did not pay rent in September, by one estimate, and there is growing concern of “an eviction tsunami.”

    “…“New York has been a tale of two cities — not just in terms of the pandemic, which is known, but also with rent affordability,” Ms. Wu said, noting the dearth of options on the lower end of the market.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/23/realestate/nyc-housing-future.html

  2. Harry McGibbs says:

    “While it is hard to compare one crisis to the next, several months of pandemic-era data now show patterns starting to emerge.

    “A clear trend has been public capital markets that have asserted a fresh level of dominance in swaths of U.S. debt finance. That means more of the upside — and downside risks — of lending to the U.S. economy during the pandemic rests in the hands of investors, retirement funds and pension plans.

    “Meanwhile, banks over the past eight months have shown a hesitancy to lend…”

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-the-2008-rerun-playing-out-at-big-banks-during-the-pandemic-11603396121

    • I can understand why banks would be hesitant to lend. Retirement funds, investors, and pension funds are kind of stuck. They have to put their money somewhere. Of course, if it doesn’t pay back, there will eventually be a problem, a person would think.

  3. Herbie R Ficklestein says:

    Well written article and indeed ☺️ very strange and amazing how the global system has held together in a such a manner of hook and crook.
    I came across this by accident…the Visual Capitalist and it has incredible graphic content
    that I know Gail will find useful in her research and essays….

    https://www.visualcapitalist.com/

    Thank you for your work and all the contributors to this forum. Been mainly on YouTube with my channels there and a couple of other sites.
    Oh noticed this article…the solution to pollution is dilution…

    Japan is planning to release millions of gallons of treated radioactive water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean according to Kyodo News.
    Since a massive tsunami in 2011 destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors, more than one million tons of contaminated water have been collected with about 170 tons of new radioactive wastewater being processed per day. But storage tanks for the wastewater are reaching their limits.

    I agree …we ARE reaching out limits in every conceivable way…😜

  4. Oh dear says:

    Europe, inc. UK seems to be struggling with c 19. China eradicated it months ago but Europe sought to just ‘restrain’ it. Perhaps the current increase in c 19 is due to changes in the weather, with more people mingling indoors with no ventilation? And less vitamin D from the sun?

    I currently keep windows ajar with no heating on and I have adapted to a lower temperature. I find that the body soon gets used to 14 c; all feeling of temperature is gone after a few days. The key is to stay out of drafts which lowers skin temperature and makes the body aware of temperature. Long socks and a long, heavy robe help no end, no uncomfortable trousers needed.

    Offices and rail networks must be absolutely ghastly, especially with the heating turned up and people breathing germs. ‘Hell on earth’.

    C 19 is getting milder and fewer are passing of it. Vaccines are coming through. It seems a shame that European countries did not do a China and eradicate it in the first place, the damage to the economies will be all the greater for it. China does have a higher average IQ, maybe the politicians too?

    I would have to award the Tories 0 out of 10 for their handling of it. They left the borders open and allowed it to spread throughout the entire country. They did not even try to avoid it or to eradicate it. It has been an extremely poor show by the politicians. UK has practically the worst passings per capita and the worst damage to the economy – in the world. The place is a disaster area. Spain may be slightly worse.

    > Europe on red alert: Number of daily C ovid cases across continent DOUBLES to 200,000 in 10 days, with many countries seeing highest-ever infection levels

    Europe first reported 100,000 cases in a day on October 8, although the true figures in the spring were likely far higher than the official peak of 38,000 on April 4 (current infection rates are shown on a map top right, with rates in some of the worst-affected countries including the Czech Republic and Belgium shown on the graph left). Cases have continued to climb exponentially with France, Germany, Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic and others setting new 24-hour records in recent days. Europe as a whole is reporting more cases per capita than the United States for the first time since America’s outbreak began to spiral out of control in March (pictured bottom right, a patient is treated in ICU near Rome on Thursday).

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8871399/Number-daily-coronavirus-cases-Europe-doubles-200-000.html

    • I don’t quite feel the way you do about COVID. I don’t think that anyone can really defeat COVID. It is part of what pulls the world economy toward collapse. Our energy consumption per capita is falling. One of the things that we lose is the ability to fight COVID cases.

      This is a chart of EU and US cases relative to population. It is similar to one of the charts you linked to, except updated one more day. EU cases have been, and continue to, increase rapidly day by day, compared to the US and compared to where they were in the prior peak.

      https://gailtheactuary.files.wordpress.com/2020/10/eu-and-us-new-confirmed-covid-cases-to-oct.-22.png

      This is a chart not shown: New Deaths per Day, Normalized by Population, for the EU and the United States.

      https://gailtheactuary.files.wordpress.com/2020/10/eu-and-us-new-covid-deaths-oct-22.png

      You can see that EU deaths are climbing, but US deaths are not.

      I attribute this to a change in “mix” in the US. In the summer, most of the cases were in the US South. The US South has disproportionately more Blacks, as a share of the population. Blacks have low vitamin D levels. As a result they death rates is whole lot higher than for Whites. I have showed this chart before, showing vitamin D levels in the blood in the US by group:

      https://gailtheactuary.files.wordpress.com/2020/04/vitamin-d-status-of-3-us-ethnic-groups.png

      Chart originally from Schleicher, R. L., Sternberg, M. R., Lacher, D. A., Sempos, C. T., Looker, A. C., Durazo-Arvizu, R. A.,…Johnson, C. L. (2016). The vitamin D status of the US population from 1988 to 2010 using standardized serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D shows recent modest increases. Am J Clin Nutr, 104:454-461. ajcn.nutrition.org

      • Oh dear says:

        The UK government attributes the higher fatality rate among ethnic minorities here to geographical and socio-economic factors.

        They outright deny any genetic factor even though the frequency of the Neanderthal DNA sequence on chromosome three, that has been shown to be the main genetic factor that contributes to severe c 19 outcomes, is much higher in South Asian populations than in Europeans. It is virtually absent in Africa and East Asia. Africans and Europeans have genetically different immune systems, which determines how they respond to infections. The European immune system has been modified through Neanderthal admixture.

        They also disregard vitamin D as unclear.

        They have reviewed UK studies and my guess is that they do not have a clue what they are talking about. My guess is that they have discounted any genetic factor because zero work has even been done on it in UK. Also they have an ideological bent to deny racial differences. It is just another failure of the absolutely useless Tory government.

        > Ethnic minorities have a higher risk of catching and dying from Covid-19 than whites because of their jobs and where they live, a Government report has concluded.

        Number 10’s Race Disparity Unit reviewed the findings of all major UK studies probing the disproportionate effect coronavirus has had on people from black and ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds.

        It found that a range of socioeconomic and geographical factors were to blame for the discrepancy, with numerous studies showing that death rates are up to three times in BAME people. But the report said a part of the excess risk remains unexplained for some groups.

        https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8863025/Ethnic-minorities-likely-catch-die-Covid-19-jobs-geography.html

        • This is a link to a Nature article, talking about an analysis of COVID-19 deaths in the UK. Since the analysis is in the UK, we presume that income does not affect access to health care. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2521-4_reference.pdf

          The article looks at a large number of potential influences in COVID-19 deaths, including as somewhat disguised socioeconomic factor called “IMD Quintile.” Basically, did the person live in a high income or low income area?

          The article computes hazard ratios on two bases:

          (1) Adjusted only for age and sex
          (2) Adjusted for all factors, including age and sex, socioeconomic factors, obesity, diabetes, hear disease, cancer, liver disease, and several other conditions.

          This is what the output looks like, including 95% confidence levels:

          https://gailtheactuary.files.wordpress.com/2020/04/factors-associated-with-covid-19-nature-williamson.png

          As you can see, the Black ethnicity comes out ahead of Southeast Asian, Mixed, and Other, on both bases. Adjusted only for age and sex, the ratio is 1.88 to White, which is the base class. Fully adjusted the ratio is 1.48. I know that in the US, Black women are fairly often obese, which may be part of the reason for the death rate, when looked at only by age and sex.

      • Nehemiah says:

        Gail wrote: “I don’t think that anyone can really defeat COVID.” — Check out what New Zealand has accomplished.

        Or Japan: Japan does have far more cases than NZ (adjusted for pop size), but deaths are very low. This is attributed to a culture of mask wearing and cleanliness, which means that most people who get exposed are exposed to a very low initial load of the pathogen. That gives their immune system time to ramp up its defenses before the virus multiplies to a dangerous level.

        Bat viruses tend to be tough to deal with when they first cross the species barrier. Bats fly all night while feeding, and all that exercise generates a lot of free radicals, so bats have evolved to generate a lot of antioxidants to fight the free radicals. (That is why bats live more than 10 times longer than rodents of similar size.) But all these antioxidants also make it tough for viruses to survive in bats, so the viruses evolve in an biological arms race with their bat hosts. But then if they jump to humans, we don’t have the bats’ superior bat defenses so bat viruses run wild in man, at least until the more vulnerable humans die off and the more resistant humans form the basis of the succeeding human gene pool.

  5. Oh dear says:

    I hope that Gail will like this.

    I posted a night raga yesterday. This is John Field, an Irish composer and pianist who invented the nocturne, and influenced Chopin, Schumann, Brahms and Liszt. Of course we all know Chopin, but Field is new to me.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qm1jBKvjydU

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Field_(composer)

    • Dennis L. says:

      david, they are going to have 5G when they get to the moon, what could go wrong?

      Your note on C-19, thanks, I don’t always understand dear and philosophy, but I have will, don’t give up and always have hope – mankind will push on, war of attrition, there are 7B of us, we will just out last the damn thing.

      Dennis L.

      • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        from the view of evolutionary psychology, hope and optimism are a part of the evolved human mind.

        it’s definitely a survival benefit, and it’s not random that minds are biased towards hope/optimism.

        I have had a very good 2020, and I have some solid hope that 2021 will be as good.

        • avocado says:

          I was in a very dire financial situation for several years. An important investment started to pay back in february. Lockdown hitted it but I’m still better than before. So I am also amongst the very few to live a somewhat happy 2020

          I saw last night US debate, btw, and I’m glad to see both contenders behaved civilizedly this time (I have usd savings, not happy with the US going civil war)

          Vaccine trials keep going, not impossible 2021 will be even better than 2020 , which was -financially speaking- much better than 2019

        • Xabier says:

          Certainly, many have not been touched by this ill-wind – not yet at any rate.

          Unfortunately, those who have not had a very good 2020 will probably have little sympathy for your success, and still less as they find themselves permanently impoverished, and that is going to be a major political and social fact.

          • avocado says:

            Xavier, you’re always the voice of reason. Here the gov has just inaugurated an agency dedicated to fight “fake news and hate”, because not only they want to promote their truth but because they know so many people are starting to hate them

            Of course I publicly complaint about the general situation and target the gov (have written a couple of articles about their management of the pandemic) . In fact, people that are doing badly like me very much

      • Xabier says:

        There are certainly a lot of human bodies to get through, and something left of the ecosystem to continue to plunder and destroy for a little while yet.

        As Mao once said in a speech:

        ‘Even f the US kills millions of us, there will still be many more millions left!’

        But in what state, not only physical but mental, is the question……

    • The article says,

      . . .even among hospitalized patients, the very worst cases, the COVID-19 mortality rate since the beginning of the pandemic has plummeted from 25.6% to 7.6%. Even better, the drop in mortality is shared across all age groups.

      This is a 70% drop in mortality, at one large system.

      • Robert Firth says:

        Gail, the article is behind a paywall, so these are merely suggestions. There may be several reasons for the drop in mortality. (a) yes, the virus really is getting weaker; (b) our immune systems are catching up with it; (c) the doctors are providing better treatment; (d) the doctors are no longer providing lethal treatment. Your guess is as good as mine, but my take is that the effect is holistic, ie caused b several factors interacting.

        • The article also mentioned that issues related to your ” the doctors are no longer providing lethal treatment.”

          When the hospitals were attempting to operate at 100% of capacity, things did not go well. They needed to bring in new people to help. They needed to transfer sick patients to other facilities.

          I think part of what is happening is doctors are understanding better how to treat the various symptoms. Steroid treatment is especially helpful, since it is cheap and readily available, even on an outpatient basis. I hope some citizens are getting smarter and taking vitamin D. That would tend to reduce the mortality rate as well.

    • Kowalainen says:

      Steve Forbes need not worry version 4 of the virus is already being spliced together.

      “Hope is for suckers.”
      — Alan Watts

  6. Sven Røgeberg says:

    « We find that restoring 15% of converted lands in priority areas could avoid 60% of expected extinctions while sequestering 299 gigatonnes of CO2—30% of the total CO2 increase in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution»
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2784-9

  7. Dennis L. says:

    Gail,
    You have much on your plate, should you be curious it might be nice to know how much of that tremendous increase in the US defense budget went for the new space defense corps.

    Dennis L.

    • Dennis L. says:

      Found it, almost a line item, laughing.

      The $15.4 billion request continues to fund programs and activities that were managed by the Air Force but the budget was developed with strong input from the U.S. Space Force, said Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond.

      “I personally worked on this budget very closely in both of my hats as commander of U.S. Space Command and chief of the Space Force,” Raymond told SpaceNews Feb. 10.

      “The mechanics of this budget was such that the money was still in the Air Force because we hadn’t stood up the Space Force yet,” Raymond said. “But we shaped this budget.”

      The $15.4 billion does not include about $800 million in personnel costs which for now remain in the Air Force budget because the Space Force does not yet have a separate accounting system, said an Air Force spokesperson.

      Approximately 16,000 Space Force personnel — except for Raymond, the chief of the Space Force — are airmen who previously were part of the Air Force Space Command and have been assigned to the Space Force. An estimated 6,000 airmen will be asked to leave the Air Force and transfer to the Space Force over the next year..

      Sorry, not able to link easily on this computer.

      Dennis L.

  8. Yoshua says:

    Carbon

    6 protons
    6 neutrons
    6 electrons

    The building blocks of life.
    Black Magic.

    • Erdles says:

      Coal?

      • Coal is the inexpensive to produce fuel. It created a huge number of jobs at the same time. There was suddenly a concentration of jobs and wealth in the same area. It suddenly made sense to pave the roads to the mines, something that hadn’t been possible before, because farming did not provide the same kind of concentration. The availability of the roads allowed businesses of other kinds to flourish.

        The availability of coal allowed homes to be heated without deforesting the neighboring land. It allowed many businesses to form, particularly smelting metals. Suddenly machines of many kinds could be made, inexpensively.

        As far as I can see, it is the average cost of energy production that is important. Or perhaps it is the average EROEI. Without coal at a disproportionately high EROEI, it is not possible to keep EROEI up high enough (or average energy price low enough).

        Coal still tends to be the cheapest fuel. China allowed the world to rapidly ramp up its coal use. Unfortunately, coal extraction has been on a bumpy plateau since 2012. This is a big reason the world is doing so poorly now. The cost of coal extraction (plus shipment to the areas where it is needed) has risen too much, relative to the wages of workers.

        It is lack of growth in per capita coal consumption, as much as anything, that is causing growth of the world economy to collapse.

        https://gailtheactuary.files.wordpress.com/2020/08/per-capita-energy-consumption-by-type.png

        • Xabier says:

          I also believe that safety standards in Chinese mines were very poor, resulting in many injuries and deaths: in the West they rose considerably after WW2, making mining even less profitable.

        • Jason says:

          You are correct. The overall numbers don’t tell the whole story. We need to subtract the amount of energy used to acquire, transform, and transport it to the end user.

          • Right! That has been growing as well. New coal fields are being developed in the north of China, in Inner Mongolia and perhaps other places. The cost of transportation is higher from the more distant location, even if the mines are less exhausted.

            • That Chinese next gen coal is transported as electricity via new HV links across the desert not as coal rail cargo. But obviously it’s another layer of extra expense to build these towers/connectors..

            • Kowalainen says:

              Most likely it is buried HVDC cables.

              The problems with HVDC isn’t the cables, rather the inverters. But those issues is now history.

        • Dennis L. says:

          Pollution, killing the land.

          Dennis L.

        • Well, to be fair/historically accurate, during the pre-coal era some important stretches of roads had been actually paved in stone, for postilions, key mil routes, key AG routes (to granaries-mills etc..)
          Obviously an network on minuscule scale in comparison to later ages, yet again there were fewer humans and overall econ throughput as well..so..

        • Speculation: what about the coal seams under the shallow sea shore bed.. ? One could imagine something like the Muskianic Boring Co. system of tiny prefab tunnels adapted for such automatic retrieval of coal and or even better = burning it in situ based on modular power plant buried there (oxygen in – electric cable out), perhaps it won’t be much more expensive say than offshore natgas.. after some initial splash down of few $B/T ..

          ps I’m expecting IP licensing fees for this scheme, lolz..

          • Perhaps you jest–hard to say

            but maybe I’ve missed some recent development in technology, but i was under the impression that electric power output from coal required the interim media of steam to make it happen?

            • Kowalainen says:

              The in situ burners produce syngas that can be further processed to light hydrocarbons on offshore coal rigs.

              It’s not rocket science. The Germans produced diesel and gasoline from coal during WW2. The same with SA during apartheid. In fact Sasol still produces syngas at their facilities.

              https://youtu.be/75cVPG78eD4

              The challenge is to recover the heat produced and use that to power near by infrastructure and the rigs themselves by steam turbines.

            • I think you still miss the point Kowalienien

              Coal gas or oil have one thing in common, they will burn and give you direct heat, but all need an intermediary to do more than that

              I think there are only 2 prime intermediaries (happy to be corrected here)

              1 steam in boilers
              2 controlled explosion in IC engines

              Both give the necessary explosive forces to gain rotary motion

              other FF byproducts we can ignore, they too depend on the above one way or another

              without rotary motion, FFs might as well be left in the ground for all the use they are

            • Kowalainen says:

              No, Norman.

              Syngas contains energy.

              The in situ “burns” with a strongly “reduced” flame, basically producing an incredibly hot “carbon” gas/plasma ready to react with water as it is injected together with the oxygen producing methane and other light hydrocarbons from the reactions.

              The light hydrocarbons can be burned to produce steam or propel a vehicle.

              The excess heat from the process can power the coal rigs and power generation using steam turbines and/or
              Stirling engines.

    • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      6 protons
      6 neutrons
      6 electrons

      so 666, that number of the beast created by the superstitious minds of unscientific ancient men.

      • Interesting point!

      • Nehemiah says:

        In the Bible, the number 666 is associated with gold, silver, and commerce.

      • Robert Firth says:

        Robert Graves suggests that the number was a political slogan, DCLXVI, addressing the Emperor Nero’s persecution of the Christians. DC stands for Domitius Caesar (Nero’s original name was Lucius Domitius).

        Graves, “The White Goddess”, Ch XIX The Number of the Beast. I offer no comment on the plausibility of this suggestion.

        • Nehemiah says:

          Yes, this is a popular theory, but the number also has a couple of OT antecedents, or three antecedents if you count the creation story, where man was created on the sixth day (“it is the number of [a] man,” there being no indefinite article in Greek). In the OT, both 666 and 66 are associated with monetary metals, and in the Revelation with buying and selling. These two interpretations are not mutually exclusive.

          https://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/gladiators/nero.html
          It therefore is not surprising that Nero was perceived by Christians as a persecutor of their faith. For Eusebius, he was “the first that persecuted this doctrine” (II.25.4); for Tertullian, “the first emperor who dyed his sword in Christian blood, when our religion was but just arising at Rome” (Apology, V); for Sulpicius Severus, “he who first began a persecution” of Christians (Sacred History, II.28).

          After Nero’s suicide in AD 68, there was a widespread belief, especially in the eastern provinces, that he was not dead and somehow would return (Suetonius, LVII.1; Tacitus, Histories II.8; Dio, LXVI.19.3). Suetonius relates how court astrologers had predicted Nero’s fall but that he would have power in the East (XL.2). And, indeed, at least three false claimants did present themselves as Nero redivivus (resurrected). The first, who sang and played the cithara or lyre and whose face was similar to that of the dead emperor, appeared the next year but, after persuading some to recognize him, was captured and executed (Tacitus, II.8). Sometime during the reign of Titus (AD 79-81) there was another impostor who appeared in Asia and also sang to the accompaniment of the lyre and looked like Nero but he, too, was exposed (Dio, LXVI.19.3). Twenty years after Nero’s death, during the reign of Domitian, there was a third pretender. Supported by the Parthians, who hardly could be persuaded to give him up (Suetonius, LVII.2), the matter almost came to war (Tacitus, I.2). Such fidelity no doubt can be attributed to the magnificent reception (and restoration of Armenia) that Tiridates, the brother of the Parthian king, had received from Nero in AD 66 (Dio, LXII.1ff).

          As popular belief in Nero’s actual return began to fade, he no longer was regarded as an historic figure but an eschatological one. The Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah dates to the end of the first century AD and is one of the apocalyptic pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament. In an interpolation, the so-called Testament of Hezekiah, Isaiah prophesies the end of the world, when Beliar (Belial) the Antichrist will manifest himself as the incarnation of the dead Nero.
          ——————————————–
          And more interesting stuff. An expectation that Nero would return from the dead to persecute the faithful one more time before the end of the world lingered for a few centuries in various Christian writings, although not every one agreed, St. Augustine remarking about this idea: “But I wonder that men can be so audacious in their conjectures:”

          Augustine comments in The City of God on II Thessalonians 2:7.

          “Some think that the Apostle Paul referred to the Roman empire, and that he was unwilling to use language more explicit, lest he should incur the calumnious charge of wishing ill to the empire which it was hoped would be eternal; so that in saying, ‘For the mystery of iniquity doth already work,’ he alluded to Nero, whose deeds already seemed to be as the deeds of Antichrist. And hence some suppose that he shall rise again and be Antichrist. Others, again, suppose that he is not even dead, but that he was concealed that he might be supposed to have been killed, and that he now lives in concealment in the vigor of that same age which he had reached when he was believed to have perished, and will live until he is revealed in his own time and restored to his kingdom. But I wonder that men can be so audacious in their conjectures” (XX.19.3).
          SNIP
          “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six” (13:18). The riddle seems to have been forgotten almost as soon as it was written and not solved until 1835, seemingly because the number was assumed to be in Greek or Latin—and not Hebrew.

          In ancient Greek and Hebrew, letters also represented numerals (as in Latin), their values assigned according to the order of the alphabet, alpha and aelph, for example, having the numerical value of 1. By adding these values, words could be represented as the sum of their numbers. This literation of numbers and numeration of letters was known as isopsephia by the Greeks and gematria by the Jews (which, in cabalistic practice, has been used to interpret Hebrew scripture). Suetonius relates an example of isopsephia when he records that graffiti appeared in both Greek and Latin lampooning Nero after he had his mother killed: “A calculation new. Nero his mother slew” (Life of Nero, XXXIX.2). In Greek, both “Nero” and “killed his own mother” have the same numerical value (1005). And, to be sure, it is intriguing that 666 encodes the name of Nero in such a way when Revelation, itself, was written in Greek.

          If the Greek spelling of Nero Caesar (Neron Kaisar) is transliterated into Hebrew (nrwn qsr), the numerical equivalent is 666—although it should be remembered that this number was not represented as a figure but as letters of the alphabet or written in full. In other words, the “number of the beast” was not expressed as “666” (indeed, discrete Arabic numerals would not be invented for another five hundred years) but by the phrase hexakosioi hexekonta hex or the numerical values of the Greek letters themselves, chi (600), xi (60), and stigma (6).

          But what is curious is not so much that 666 can be decoded to signify Nero but that the name is encoded in this particular number, especially since it could have been represented as readily in other ways. It only is when the words are transliterated from Greek into Hebrew and then calculated that the numeration adds up to 666 (nrwn qsr, 50 + 200 + 6 + 50 + 100 + 60 + 200). Even so, this is an alternate spelling, a letter being transliterated in “Neron” (nrwn instead of nrw) but not in “Caesar” (qsr instead of qysr). Although these forms do appear in the Talmud and an Aramaic scroll from Qumran, they no doubt complicated the solution to the puzzle.

  9. Harry McGibbs says:

    “As lockdowns have been lifted in most of the country [US] and businesses have been able to reopen, that supply shock has waned, only for a new problem to emerge: weak demand…

    “Consumer anxiety over the continued spread of the pandemic is holding back the recovery by making it impossible to get back to business as usual.”

    https://marker.medium.com/forget-shutdowns-its-demand-shock-that-s-killing-our-economy-3062e94c122e

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      Weak demand + a colossal and unstable bubble of corporate debt sounds like a bad combination.

      “According to a UNCTAD report, corporate debt bubble might explode and cause another global financial crisis, especially in the post COVID-19 economy when many companies will face heightened financial stress.

      “It said that the most immediate areas of concern lie in the shadow banking system that had been ignored by the post-2010 financial regulations.”

      https://www.businesstoday.in/current/economy-politics/75-trillion-global-corporate-debt-bubble-unctad/story/419608.html

      • As the article says, “The non-financial corporations indebtedness stood at $75 trillion globally, up from $45 trillion in 2008.” There has been a huge increase in indebtedness by the companies which are in the worst shape financially. There is a substantial chance that this debt will explode.

    • Too many people are afraid to do anything. Stay at home; watch television.

      • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        true.

        similar in China, which is on the leading edge of the lockdown/unlock curve.

        they locked first, then unlocked first, and the result was weak demand domestically.

        (irrational) fear has permanently changed the behavior of many consumers.

  10. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The global economy may still face new pressing problems, Russian President Vladimir Putin believes.

    “”The processes of global economic recovery are extremely unstable. Moreover, it may face new pressing problems,” he said at a meeting with the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs’ executive-board members on Wednesday.”

    https://tass.com/economy/1214691

  11. Yoshua says:

    An unclassified NSA document confirms that the high powered micro wave weapon was used in the late 1990’s against a US official.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/MarkSZaidEsq/status/1319100277853663233

    • Now we use phones, instead, to spread the microwaves.

      • Kowalainen says:

        A properly designed mobile phone outputs at max some 1 watt of microwave power.

        Your microwave oven can blast out 1kW of microwaves. Thats an order of 3 in magnitude larger. With 5G and 6G, that power will be significantly reduced due to the closer vicinity to the base stations.

        The signal to noise ratio decreases exponentially, and with that the power requirements, as the error correction, encoding and decoding technology improves. Within a decade or two the signal strenght of mobile phones will be significantly below the background microwave noise levels.

        Modern military radars does not even have to switch on the transmitter in order to observe disturbances in the background radiation from airplanes buzzing the airspace and thus detect them passively.

        The sun blasts out, god knows how much microwave, infrared and X-rays onto our entitled rear ends.

        Worrying about microwaves is like worrying about overpopulation on Mars. Just keep your head outside the microwave oven and apply sun lotion liberally while outside in the summertime.

  12. Dennis L. says:

    5G dreaming:

    It does not seem like we really need a 5G network on earth, but if one wanted to spread development costs of a 5G network, making it an earth standard would not be a bad idea. Stringing wires on the moon would be very expensive, probably just another coincidence.

    Denns L.

    • Kowalainen says:

      5G is old news, 6G is actively in specification process right now.

    • A 5g network would be terribly expensive, no matter how the cost is spread. Using it on phones also tends to kill battery life.

      Poor people are already being priced out of being able to afford internet services. The last thing that they need is a 5G network.

      • Kowalainen says:

        5G and 6G isn’t intended for average Joe. It is for IoT. The Machine.

        • The cost needs to be spread very widely, if it is to be at all affordable. I think it has the same problem as fossil fuels. The cost of the grid (with more 5G and 6G) will rise, but it will not be possible to raise prices to homeowners to compensate.

  13. Dennis L. says:

    Moonstruck:

    “NASA has tapped Finland’s Nokia to build the first ever cellular network on the moon. The network is going to be part of NASA’s plan to return humans to the moon by 2024, CBC notes.

    The network is also part of a plan to build “long-term settlements” on the moon after returning. Nokia says the network will be built on the lunar surface in late 2022, before humans even return.

    The goal is to have a lunar base built by 2028 and “eventually sustain a human presence” on the moon, according to CNN. NASA has awarded over $370 million to a dozen companies to start putting the infrastructure necessary in place.”

    https://www.zerohedge.com/technology/can-you-hear-me-now-nokia-set-build-cellular-phone-network-moon

    Not saying it is going to happen, but it is a heck of a lot of coincidences.

    “US billionaire Jeff Bezos has outlined his plans for a lunar base in the 2020s.[51] Independently, SpaceX plans to send Starship to the Moon to establish a base.[52]”
    “Jeff Bezos Describes Moon Colony Plan to Relieve Pressure on Earth”. May 29, 2018

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonization_of_the_Moon

    Bezos is not very forward looking, probably just looking to go exploring.

    Dennis L.

  14. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Over half the small and medium-sized companies which together provide jobs for two-thirds of European workers fear for their survival in the coming 12 months, according to a survey released by management consultancy McKinsey on Thursday.

    “The survey was conducted in August, before the current acceleration in new coronavirus cases across Europe that is forcing governments to impose new restrictions…”

    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-europe-economy-smallbusiness/over-half-europes-small-firms-fear-for-survival-survey-finds-idUKKBN27709T

  15. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The UK financial regulator is urging borrowers affected by coronavirus lockdowns to seek support from their banks, as its figures show 12m Britons are likely to struggle with bills or loan repayments.

    “In its strongest call to action yet, the Financial Conduct Authority has told consumers in difficulty to ask their lenders for more support and seek free debt advice from government-backed bodies and charities.”

    https://www.ft.com/content/72bf5779-2dd4-48bf-8c09-00e0421efe91

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Thousands of [UK] middle-income professionals who have lost their job during the pandemic have reported turning to food banks, going into debt and suffering from stress and anxiety after they were turned down for universal credit, research reveals.

      “…more than half reported problems with mental health, and around one in six said they had struggled to afford food.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/oct/22/thousands-of-people-refused-universal-credit-turning-to-food-banks

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “The English social care system urgently needs £7 billion a year to prevent a collapse as the pandemic pushes the sector further into a funding crisis, MPs have warned.

        “The emergency boost would be a “starting point” to avoid a disaster and is not enough fully to address unmet need, according to a report by the Commons health and social care committee.”

        https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/social-care-on-brink-of-collapse-as-it-faces-7bn-a-year-shortfall-8mb2hwtxl

        • Harry McGibbs says:

          “Britain’s government borrowing in the first half of the financial year was more than six times higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic, official figures showed on Wednesday, taking public debt to its highest since 1960.”

          https://www.dailysabah.com/business/finance/uk-public-borrowing-exceeds-all-forecasts-debt-highest-since-1960

          • Wow! “Britain’s government borrowing in the first half of the financial year was more than six times higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

            This doesn’t sound like a sustainable path!

            • Erdles says:

              Gail, unfortunately it is sustainable; the BoE will print whatever money the government needs. The BoE has created into existence £250Billion since Covid 19 began and with this it has bought government bonds basically funding the deficit.

            • Nehemiah says:

              Erdles wrote: “The BoE has created into existence £250Billion since Covid 19 began and with this it has bought government bonds basically funding the deficit.”

              Bought bonds direct from the government with new money bank loans, or bought them second hand from the banks with bank reserves just like the Fed does in the US? There is a huge difference. The first way leads to Venezuela. The second way is mostly smoke and mirrors.

            • Robert Firth says:

              Britain faced a similar debt problem during the reign of Queen Anne. Her solution was to ignore all her economic advisors, and in 1717 appoint a retired university professor (with an interest in biblical exegesis) as Master of the Mint. He promptly put Britain back on the Gold Standard, and ushered in a couple of centuries of prosperity. You may have heard of him: he was Isaac Newton.

            • Kowalainen says:

              The cranks, sanctimonious hypocrites and scam artist wreck the world and then the scientists and engineers have to right the mess left behind.

              History repeating itself.

              No engineer or scientist I have met takes economics seriously.

              There is, however only on that can not be disregarded. But, then again, he was a mathematician.

              Something about game theory.

    • “Extend and pretend that the debt can be paid back later” seems likely to be the pathway.

      • Erdles says:

        The debt will be made to disappear at the push of a button. £750Billion of UK bonds (37.5% of all UK debt) is currently held by a limited company which has the UK treasury as its only shareholder and is funded by loans from the BoE. I assume at some point the company will declare bankruptcy and all debts wiped out.

        • The question is how international trade will hold up, with many countries doing something similar. I am expecting the system will have to change. Perhaps there will be smaller local groups. I am uncertain whether the UK will have much to offer for trading internationally. People won’t want financial contracts based on funny money.

    • Jason says:

      The UK financial regulator is urging borrowers affected by coronavirus lockdowns to seek support from their banks, LOL

  16. Nehemiah says:

    There has recently been quite a bit of attention to supply chain disruptions, high prices, and shortages. This might be a good time to point out that physicist David Korowicz warned us about this danger in 2012, but no one in the mainstream wanted to listen. If anyone doubts that we really were warned 8 years ago, here it is:
    https://www.feasta.org/2012/06/17/trade-off-financial-system-supply-chain-cross-contagion-a-study-in-global-systemic-collapse/

  17. Dennis L. says:

    Economic Activity by visits to various types of businesses across various cities:

    “The US economy has turned into the weirdest concoction ever. Some aspects are booming, such as anything related to online shopping and entertainment, while other aspects are in the worst depression ever, such as airlines and hotels. So now eight months into the Pandemic, here’s my monthly update on the recovery in cities, in terms of what people are doing and where they’re going, if anywhere, as seen by the near-real-time indicators that have sprung up as a result of the Pandemic.”

    https://wolfstreet.com/2020/10/21/down-to-earth-view-of-the-recovery-in-near-real-time-eight-months-into-the-pandemic/

    Some years back, at ASPO had someone predicted $40 oil secondary to people working from home the idea would been politely dismissed. Here we are, the system is self adjusting, it is very robust. One of the biggest issues going forward will possibly be RE taxes and city income taxes. The latter is a double whammy, loss of the primary office worker’s taxes and the secondary incomes taxes of those who service these office workers.

    Politicians are complacent, the bureaucracy is a constant, but it appears to me that the cheese is being moved around in ways not anticipated. Once the changes are in place, there tends to be a inertia to movement back to normal.

    Personally I think one of the biggest hits is yet to come, higher education. On line tutoring seems to be taking off, one on one, tutors rated, Amazon style. Higher education is not used to itself being graded and if the money can move easily, that will be an interesting reaction.

    Dennis L.

    • Kowalainen says:

      As I have stated previously, the material consumption will shift into immaterial.

      People are gearing up intellectually and physically for a different world that is inevitable. The Jungian ‘collective subconcious’ is making these adjustments, because at heart everybody understands the reality of inevitability.

      All what is needed is a small nudge in the form of a global intermezzo. Oh well.

      It will happen, because it MUST happen.

    • I think that right now, people are looking for in-person instruction. The drop out rate is much higher for all on-line schools. They can get something similar from the almost free online courses that are available. Universities with in-person classes are doing better.

      • Robert Firth says:

        Gail, many years ago I was part of a “distance learning” project. It was an utter failure. The teacher talked and showed slides; the students logger in remotely. If a student had a question, there was a private back channel to the teacher. Consequence: the rest of the class heard neither the question nor the answer. What idiot thought of that? Yes, an IT idiot.

        Next, there was no way for the students to review the material, except by replaying the whole session. No way to tag a short clip for reference or revision. No way to copy the material (copyright, you know). And no way for students to collaborate on revision or workshops except what they could cobble together themselves. In other words, 100% teacher centred, which we have known ever since Plato’s Academy doesn’t work.

        About fifteen years later, I used a new system. The instruction was classroom based, with discussions and workshops, but there was an online portal into which the teacher could upload whatever he pleased. (The idiot IT people again did their best to screw it up: for example you could not upload a folder, you had to post one file at a time; you had no control of the order of the uploads, it was immovably “accession order”.) But it did sort of work, and my promise to the students that everything they saw in class would be online the next day was greatly appreciated. (It was a two year fight to get the administration to agree that copyrighting slides and papers was pointless in the present world, but we won.)

        My take is that classroom education is still the way to go; just downscale drastically: one administrator for the faculty, one for the students, and everyone else a teacher. Oxford in my day did even better: the faculty had to take turns as part time administrators; since they hated the job they did it very well indeed (if you hate a job you become efficient, so as to spend as little time as possible doing it!).

  18. misanthropr#7 says:

    There has been some discussion of the pros and cons of home PV solar. I love my off grid solar. A couple months ago panels were real cheap .25 a watt. There still real cheap not quite that cheap tho… The stove dryer water heater and heat is propane. Propane appliances do cost more and propane is another infrastructure that must be installed, not a particularly easy one. 3000 watts of panels $900. Sma 5kw inverter $1500. Midnight charge controller $250. 8 trojan l16 batteries $1600. And the wire and disconnects. I would never go back on grid, I shudder at the thought. If grid is close i always told people go on grid. @ .25 a watt I dont say that anymore. The most important rule of PV. Your gal must not insist on a hair dryer. 🙂 Guess what the poles and hardware to go on grid aint cheap either. Yes there is maintenance with pv. but washing the panels and pain to mount theft concerns…. These are just minor inconveniences to my mind. As soon as my batteries are full I might as well use the power during day it has no where else to go. Im sorry thats a pretty nice situation having power that is just sitting there during the day that doesnt discharge my batteries. Run that welder. Run that chop saw. Run that blender.

    • Dennis L. says:

      Yes, it can be done. How long have you been off grid? It seems for me time is a limiting factor, I have all the parts, never hooked them up, comforting to know they are there. It seems awfully expensive to me, your system is modest and you have done well to balance your loads. Water pump can be an issue depending on depth of well.

      Nice to hear someone has done it, next summer another project, thanks.

      Dennis L.

      • misanthropr#7 says:

        6 years off grid. I started with a much smaller system. The grundfos SQ pumps are the standard for homes using solar. Their start amps same as run amps. Stay away from dc pumps. Of course no one wants to change out a well pump to run solar. The well pump start amps are one of the big 3. Well pump, refrigerator, washer. Your system must handle all three coming on at once OR a solid state relay can be used to cut out the fridge for a few seconds when the pump is on. Some less smart washers can also be cut out with a solid state relay until the well pressure tank is full. If their timing is mechanical power can be cut to them without losing their timing. You can run a dc fridge to eliminate that start amps also. Most Inverters can handle double their continuous rating for a few seconds. Inverters are getting cheap. You can run a dedicated inverter for the washer so as not to exceed the primary household inverter. This is not a bad way to go because inverter efficiency is poor when at small percentage of its rated capacity. Running all three at once without mitigating simultaneous motor cut ins your washer choices can be limited. The smart washers where you can select energy efficient modes work best. If you want to run that craigs list washer a separate dedicated inverter is best. You could do the same for your well pump. Pure sign wave inverters coming out of china are cheap and not unreliable. Just dont expect a kia to be a mercedes. They wont allow the neutral to be grounded as North american code requires though. About half the world doesnt ground their neutral. They run a chassis ground of course but neutral is not grounded. It seems like a lot of trouble. I love it. Maybe im a geek. Ok i am a geek. Its not just that though. Living within your means. You have this much power coming in . You adjust your lifestyle to the power you have not visa versa. There is something satisfying about that.

    • Artleads says:

      I’m dealing with such a poverty stricken format that I would want to see this level of technology applied (stretched) to a group of around 10 small pods (instead of one individual). They’d have to find a way to stretch electricity a lot thinner.

      • Maybe and maybe not. I expect the richest person in the group would get nearly all of the benefit. There would be constant bickering over it. I know that “communes” didn’t work will in Israel. They were tried in the US in the early 1970s, and they didn’t work here either. They seem to have been tried in the times of the Acts of the Apostles, but didn’t stick around then either.

        • neil says:

          I wonder how the Hutterites have persisted.

          • Oh dear says:

            > One news report defined the business operations of colonies as “industrial grade farms that produce grains, eggs, meat and vegetables, which are sold to large distributors and at local farmer’s markets”.

        • Nehemiah says:

          Religious communes are far more durable than secular ones. Excluding monasteries (individual monasteries typically endure for centuries, from what I have read, but they also don’t have to deal with the “second generation” problem), the champions of communal living are the Hutterites who have been at it for four hundred years in countries as diverse as Czarist Russia, Paraguay, and America.

          In the 20th century, Eberhard Arnold’s followers from a German youth movement copied the Hutterites, although not exactly, still fairly closely, and their communes seem to have done well too, often supporting themselves through toymaking.

          So why are there so many failures? I will offer three reasons:
          1. Their failure rate has been exaggerated. It has been estimated that 10% of the hippy era communes are still hanging around. If so, their failure rate is not terribly different from that of small businesses.

          2. Most do not recruit enough followers to reach whatever “critical mass” gives them the best chances of remaining a long lasting viable community. I don’t know what that critical mass is, but I have seen a smattering of evidence that hints at a figure of 50 adults. (On the other end of the continuum, the few communes that grow to more than 150 persons total may also decrease their odds of survival because it becomes more costly to limit free riders in a larger, more impersonal community.)

          3. Most of them ignore research into the “best practices” of long-lived communes. The example of religious vs. secular I mentioned above is one example of this mistake. This seems to be the single biggest factor that affects longevity according to most research. Some other factors that independently predict commune longevity in a multiple regression test are uniforms, being linguistically or culturally unique, and administrators that are recognized to possess differential moral authority (I am trying to paraphrase what I remember reading in a book by Michael Hecht called _Principles of Group Solidarity_ or something like that.)

          I read once about a commune in New Zealand (or was it Oz?) that lasted until its children grew up. The children all defected to mainstream society, clearly a failure to properly socialize or “enculturate” the next generation. That brings up a related issue with many communes, especially the secular or tolerant or “multi-cultural” ones. Many of them seem to be basically a microcosm of mainstream society, differing only in their economic organization. When the local economy does well and opportunities open up, many defect back to mainstream society since there are few psychological barriers to exit.

          Twin Oaks is a secular commune that has been around since the 1970s, but it is a revolving door organization. It’s relative fame allows it to constantly recruit new members, but this model will not work for a high-turnover group that is not as good at constantly recruiting new members.

          Communes that require from their members 11 or more behaviors of a sacrificial nature (such as their time, energy, or material resources, with nothing tangible in return) are likely to be harmonious and long-lasting according to one study, but–here’s the kicker–this only works in religious communes. Secular communes that try to duplicate this effect just break down faster.

          Somewhat related to this is some research I read about by an anthropologist (Harvey Whitehouse) who was studying the role of ritual in society. He found there were two types of rite. One was a very intense but rare rite, such as the pubertal rites of passage that initiate youths (usually boys) into adulthood in many small, primitive societies. (By the way, fraternities with more intense hazing rituals of initiation have been reported to be more durable than the ones with less rigorous initiations. “Skull and Bones” for example.) These very memorable rites serve to bond the participants together for life, through thick and thin.

          But agriculture brought civilization with large, anonymous communities over wide areas and socially stratified to boot. To hold these communities together, shared rituals needed to be frequent, not rare, but frequent rites cannot be extremely intense, so you get low-intensity rites such as the Eucharist which is celebrated weekly in the more tradition-minded Christian confessions.

          I am thinking that a commune could benefit from both types of ritual–if it is committed to a shared religion.

          By the way, many Israeli kibbutzim are still thriving endeavors–but they are the religious ones, not the secular kibbutzim, which tend to struggle.

          It is important to control free riding in any organization. In some ways, this challenge may be harder in communes (its like a big family so you can’t just fire the underperformers). Even in the 19th century, it was observed that commune members did not work as hard as independent householders.

          However, this handicap can be offset by the large advantages to cooperation in both human and animal societies. For example, few species have made the evolutionary transition to living in cooperative societies (mere herds are not cooperative), but those that did make the transition have become the most successful of their type of animal. Although ants have been emblematic of industriousness since Old Testament times, a study of ants found that up to 30% of ants observed were moving about aimlessly and not really doing anything useful. In spite of these free loaders, the benefits to cooperation are so large that ants are among the most successful of any type of animal.

          Evolutionary biologist Ronald A. Fisher, who is credited with forging the synthesis of Darwinian natural selection and Mendelian genetic theory in the 1920’s that is known as the Neo-Darwinian synthesis, hypothesized that civilizations declined when they became characterized by self-seeking individualism, and were conquered and displaced by peoples with less refined cultures but more altruistic habits.

          Sorry if this ran a little long.

          • Dmitry Orlov has a book, “Communities that Abide” in which he studies groups such as the Roma/Gipsy, Mormons, Amish, and the Hutterites. (I have only heard him talk about the subject, not read the book.) He believes that a common religious belief is important. It is also helpful to for the group to be mildly persecuted, so that they have reason to bind together behind a strong leader. He doesn’t think that a group whose only interest is “sustainability,” who have an elected leader, will do well at all.

            When I have talked to some people who today live in communal groups, one thing that has come up is the difficulty of providing education for young people. Are some to be educated and not others? The group likely cannot afford much education. I am sure healthcare is an issue as well, if a group is trying to live in today’s world.

            • Artleads says:

              Orlov provides helpful clues. There’s a big thread on evolution further along. How you pass on genes to some advantage, etc. But missing is the self organizing principle that evolution must follow. Species don’t sit down and think logically how to pass on the optimal gened. They adapt to self organized circumstances. Why should that be different for humans?

              Robert’s point is also helpful:
              “Monasteries.,..provided several useful functions: a dumping ground for excess sons and daughters, as you suggest; also a repository of learning; and in the West at least a source of innovation in agriculture, animal husbandry, and medicine. Even today, we would be poorer without them.”

              The ‘repository of learning’ aspect contributed hugely to cultural evolution.

              “Cultural evolution is the change of culture over time.
              If we define culture as “information capable of affecting individuals’ behavior that they acquire from other members of their species through teaching, imitation and other forms of social transmission,” cultural evolution is fundamentally just the change of culture over time.

              https://culturalevolutionsociety.org/story/What_is_Cultural_Evolution

          • Oh dear says:

            It seems that human societies function by being ‘all-encompassing’ and by there being no ‘way out’. The society expands to the horizons of one’s living realm and all is networked within it as an unavoidable ‘social reality’.

            Communes rather form an escape ‘bubble’ out of which it is usually possible to find a ‘way out’, to ‘wander off’ and to get into something else.

            Perhaps religious communities in some sense replicate the ‘all-encompassing’ and ‘no way out’ aspect of society, through the supposed ‘ordained rightness’ of the commune and the ‘wickedness’ of the world, and through the sense of ‘persecution’, even largely imaginary, of a hostility of the world toward the commune/ cult members.

            The commune keeps its members by in some sense ‘trapping’ them psychologically and socially within the bubble, and representing the world as ‘cut off’, ‘out of bounds’, in some sense ‘impossible’.

            Religious belief can be pretty dogmatic, permanent and inflexible – very oddly not so much in the ‘liberal’ churches – and that allows the ‘no way out’ mentality to remain.

            I do not applaud their ‘success’, but they can personally do whatever they want so far as I am concerned, so long as they afford me the same courtesy. If people want to join ‘cults’ then they can ‘go for it’ lol.

            • Nehemiah says:

              From a Darwinian point of view, the Hutts and some other close knit “fundamentalist” groups have been very successful, considering with how few numbers they started, and their fertility remains high while the fertility of mainstream society remains well below replacement. I suspect some of these groups will also muddle through future crises better than mainstream society.

            • Oh dear says:

              Well, the ‘Darwinian’ point of view is not merely about survival but about the evolution of the species through the survival of the fittest in the struggle for survival.

              It seems that the Hutterites had a higher infant mortality rate than the general population and consequently a lower mortality rate during their productive years.

              It is also hypothesised that the Hutterites were subject to severe selective pressures in the 1870s as they migrated to Dakota and that decreased the mortality of elder members in following generations.

              Their infant mortality rates are down now though and the selective pressures are eased.

              Altruism is not generally conducive to a ‘Darwinian’ outcome in so far as it mitigates selective pressures. Individualism generally has the opposite outcome. ‘Altruism’ can focus on helping the fittest, allowing them to flourish, and that has the best outcome. Altruism is usually aimed at maintaining the least fit rather than the most fit and that has the worst outcome.

              Technology, medicine, comfort, anything that decreases mortality, eases selection and weakens the breed; hardier conditions improve it. Darwinism only works when people die, it is selection that conduces to health and longevity.

              There is no a priori reason why ‘moral’ orientations should conduce to good longer-term outcomes, but neither is there any a priori reason why good longer-term outcomes should dictate morality. Peoples make their own choices. Spartans opted for hardier conditions but that is unusual.

              Our modern societies are likely the least ‘Darwinian’ in the entirety of human history, with not only the removal of selective pressures but the collapse of the fertility rate and the replacement of the populations with other populations. They have made their ‘choice’ on that count.

              Many kinds of society can increase the size of the population, from classical slave societies to post-imperialist, multi-ethnic capitalist societies. There is nothing ‘Darwinian’ about that.

              > Mortality Changes in the Hutterite Brethren of Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada

              Abstract

              The pattern of mortality among the Hutterite Brethren has changed from that reported in this journal by J. W. Eaton and A. J. Mayer almost 30 years ago. In particular, the longevity of females is greater than that of males as inferred from age-specific deaths rates for the period 1953-75. Infant mortality rates declined by 27% of that estimated for the period 1941-50. The notable decline in the mortality of women during their reproductive span may be causally related to the decline in Hutterite fertility that was recently reported in this journal by L. M. Laing. The mortality of the elderly Brethren was apparently lower during the period 1941-50. It is hypothesized that the lower mortality of the elderly was the result of the greater longevity of survivors of a cohort that was subject to a unique period of selective mortality. This period of early, severe mortality occurred during the migration from South Russia to the Dakota Territory, 1874-79, and the establishment of colonies in South Dakota during the remainder of the nineteenth century. Although the mortality of infants and the elderly has been higher among the Hutterite Brethren than in the general population of Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Brethren in the most productive years of their lives enjoy lower mortality by comparison.

              https://sci-hub.st/https://www.jstor.org/stable/41463450?seq=1

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “Well, the ‘Darwinian’ point of view”

              You might appreciate this:

              http://faculty.econ.ucdavis.edu/faculty/gclark/papers/Capitalism%20Genes.pdf

            • Oh dear says:

              Thanks a very interesting thesis, and I shall certainly give it some attention.

              It attributes the rise of capitalism in England to a proliferation of genes well suited to capitalism. Nietzsche similarly argued that psychological and behavioural traits can develop in a breed according to material and social conditions.

              But if it is true that the English are descended longer-term mainly from the ‘economic upper classes’ then they are descended more recently mainly from the ‘economic lower classes’ since the rise of urban industrialism. The breed is always in transition. Modern trends will in any case replace the local breed with one more global. The English are mainly proletarians rather than capitalists, so the thesis does not really ‘ring true’ to be honest. Only a tiny minority were ever capitalist.

              An objection to the thesis might be that capitalism has taken off just fine in most of the world. So perhaps similar trends were active elsewhere, contrary to the thesis? Or perhaps there is a better explanation like that of Marx and Engels who attributed the transition to capitalist property relations to technological developments.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              http://faculty.econ.ucdavis.edu/faculty/gclark/papers/Capitalism%20Genes.pdf

              Gregory Clark talks about those who had the psychological traits to become wealthy contributed far more genes from generation to generation. The wealthy were able to feed their kids through the famines and epidemics.

              It’s worth understanding the odd concept of “downward social mobility.”

            • Kowalainen says:

              Jung would call it the ‘collective unconscious’ and it consumes a large share of the rapacious primates biological CPU cycles.

              Letting go of some aspect of being a human frees you from those burdens.

              It is no longer a matter of cheap narratives and propaganda. Soon enough every human will have a direct feed into the net.

              The mere whiff of some filth in your thought processes will be an open book for social damnation.

              I would suggest you to clean up your act for the coming metamorphosis.

              It is inevitable.

            • Oh dear says:

              It is probably worth looking at trends since the 19 c and before. This was all ‘topical’ in 19 c.

              > Were the Victorians cleverer than us? Research indicates a decline in brainpower and reflex speed thanks to ‘REVERSE’ natural selection

              https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2323944/Were-Victorians-cleverer-Research-indicates-decline-brainpower-reflex-speed.html

        • Robert Firth says:

          Gail, the “communes” of the Middle Ages solved that problem: every member takes a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience. In other words, a monastery. As for how to conduct ones day to day affairs, that was set out in 515 AD: The Rule of Saint Benedict.

          • Oh dear says:

            Shakers also abstained from s/x. They thought that salvation depended on virginity. JWs have a similar outlook. Shakers are gone, for obvious reasons, while JWs proselytise and are not strict about it.

            ‘Chaste’ communes do not function to preserve the species and they can provide no model for how people might organise after collapse. Communities must be family-orientated.

            Younger sons of the nobles were sent into medieval monasteries, which avoided the constant division of family wealth. Ironically, that seems to have been their social function, to preserve the wealth of noble families over time. They were open only to the rich who would enter with a ‘dowry’.

            • Robert Firth says:

              Oh dear, agreed 100%. Monasteries must be part of a larger society that is indeed self sustaining. They nevertheless provided several useful functions: a dumping ground for excess sons and daughters, as you suggest; also a repository of learning; and in the West at least a source of innovation in agriculture, animal husbandry, and medicine. Even today, we would be poorer without them.

            • the jw’s aren’t against sex are they

              thats a new one on me

              they get all nasty if someone ”marries out” and theyre big on purity and stuff

              ‘fornication’ is one of their favourite words—one can only guess why

            • Oh dear says:

              JWs claim that only virgins go to heaven (Matthew 25:1, Revelation 14:4), and that other JWs will inherit the earth and be ruled by the 144,000 virgins. That is why only a small proportion of JWs, virgins, take the communion bread at Easter. No lie.

            • Oh dear says:

              Monasteries were genetic dead ends. A community really does not want to subject some of its most successful lines, and the innovative and learned to celibacy. It would eradicate them over many generations.

              Monasteries were all about the ‘other world’ and they were totally detached from how the world really works and from the ‘logic’ of life. The West never really ‘got it’ and it has made its ‘choices’.

            • Nehemiah says:

              ” if it is true that the English are descended longer-term mainly from the ‘economic upper classes’ then they are descended more recently mainly from the ‘economic lower classes” — These are the theses of two books, _Farewell to Alms_ by Gregory Clark and _The Welfare Trait_ by Adam Perkins respectively.

              Natural selection works on many traits. Certainly disease resistance and general health are important, and it is quite problematic that selection for these traits has fallen extraordinarily low. However, relaxed selection on these traits has allowed for increased selection for other traits. Natural selection does not work only through mortality differences, it also works through fertility differences. The groups that have higher fertility are passing on their genes and traits better than their genetic rivals.

              Superior altruism may offer a slightly enhanced survival rate of a group’s lower quality specimens, but it offers a huge advantage in intergroup competition. In addition, their defectors will tend to disseminate their genes even among their “foreign” neighbors, while hardly any genes flow the other direction, because it is easier to defect to a low demand culture from a higher demand culture than the other way around.

            • Kowalainen says:

              Evolution does not work that way.

              A family is a breeding project.

              Mankind is an eugenics process and subject to evolutionary pressure.

              It’s about time to drop that silly ‘cockroach’ breeding strategy of the intelligent, because the regression toward the mean is inevitable.

              If you are smart, your kids will most likely be dumber than you. If you’re dumb, your kids will be smarter than you.

              Accept it and be part of the eugenics process called mankind.

            • Oh dear says:

              Selection works through the application of pressures not an easing. A population with high fertility and low morality will pass on worsened genes. One with high fertility and mortality passes on improved genes. It is just how it is. ‘Darwinism’ is not about a numerical increase in population or genes but about its improvement. Check the title of the book.

            • Oh dear says:

              “It’s about time to drop that silly ‘cockroach’ breeding strategy of the intelligent, because the regression toward the mean is inevitable.”

              It’s about time to drop that silly ‘cockroach’ breeding strategy of the ‘mean’, because the evolution of the species is inevitable, which is how they come to exist at all.

              FTFY

            • Kowalainen says:

              It hasn’t occured to you that the “mean” is part of the process? You see, it is hard to predict what a ruthless mean bastard can figure out which later on becomes indispensible for mankind.

              For example, would you put a child molesting rapist behind bars, if you first learn that the solved the pressing energy predicament of mankind?

              I guess not, right? Nobel Prize of life in prison? Or both? Or neither? How do we even judge such a person in a reasonable way?

              The story extends beyond the realm of the individual at this stage. It is a collaborative competitive process encompassing all facuets of human endeavour.

              It is about time to suppress those rapacious traits and clean up our act as a species. Yes, leave some of what you makes you a human behind, and by so doing becoming one.

            • Oh dear says:

              K, again, maybe it is best if you do not address me in the future. Maybe you could go and take some drugs instead?

            • Kowalainen says:

              Nehemiah, one theory I have is the slight disdain for the in-group. ‘The relatives is the worst’ seem the norm in core IC countries. The mere whiff of your own genes diluted sufficiently and close to you produces disdain.

              What’s your thoughts around this?

        • Artleads says:

          I hear you! I did make it sound commune-like, and wasn’t even clear what my concept was. I’m generally not thinking in commune terms. I’d still pursue the 150-strong formula in a loose way, but divide up the residential pods into groups of 8 or 10. Somehow I think getting the land is very much harder to figure out than the details of living in some sort of community balanced with strict privacy and autonomy.

      • misanthropr#7 says:

        If all you need is lighting you could run one 350 watt panel one 12 volt battery, a cheap charge controller and run dc leds for “ten pods” and be just fine.

    • Solar PV sort of makes sense at the individual homeowner level for people who live in warm parts of the world, fairly near the equator, if electricity costs from the grid are high. Thus, they sort of work for California, Arizona, Hawaii, North Africa, and Saudi Arabia. I take it you are in a warm part of the world, and also in a part of the world where there are not dramatic differences between the amount of sunshine in summer and winter.

      Everyone assumes that the “overall system” will hang together. There will be a grocery store where you can get your food, someone will repave the road when needed, the police will protect your home from protesters, fresh water will come from the tap, and jobs will be available where you are. It is the overall system that I see failing. I fear that you will make this big investment, and then you will find that you need to move elsewhere, because you cannot earn enough for food, or you cannot grow enough food for yourself. So you will need to pick up and move elsewhere. Or perhaps the solar system will work until the first part of the system breaks (the inverter, typically). Then you will have to go to Plan B, which I hope you have.

      • Dennis L. says:

        Very thoughtful reply, I would tend to agree with you.

        DennisL.

      • Nehemiah says:

        Gail wrote: “Everyone assumes that the “overall system” will hang together. There will be a grocery store where you can get your food…”

        This is a fun game! Can I play? And the grocer assumes their will be trucks to make the food deliveries, the trucks assume they will have diesel and skilled mechanics, the mechanics assume they will have spare parts and the truck stops assume they will get deliveries of diesel. Diesel suppliers assume the refineries will function, and refineries assume crude will keep coming from tankers or pipelines, and tankers and pipelines assume assume their will be drillers who supply the crude, and drillers assume oil field equipment will be available when they need it, and the oil field equipment manufacturers assume a reliable supply of electricity over a functioning power grid and parts deliveries via trucks and a reliable supply of metals, including steel. The steel makers assume a reliable supply of iron ore and high carbon anthracite coal for coking, and some other materials. Everybody assumes liquid fuels, electricity, food and water, a functioning financial system, and enough profits to fund a government that can provide law and order, road maintenance, functioning courts to enforce contracts, international stability, and other essential functions that the private sector cannot provide for itself on a large scale. And of course this all laughably over simplified. The real maze is vastly more complex, intricate, and interconnected than I have painted it. Most of us can muddle through as long as it doesn’t all begin to unravel. Let us hope it does not end like the “one hoss shay” (carriage) described by Oliver Wendell Holmes:

        You see, of course, if you’re not a dunce,
        How it went to pieces all at once, —
        All at once, and nothing first, —
        Just as bubbles do when they burst.

        End of the wonderful one-hoss shay.
        Logic is logic. That’s all I say.
        http://holyjoe.org/poetry/holmes1.htm

        • You have described the string of assumptions that goes on, until something goes wrong. For example, no bank will guarantee payment for international shipments, because so much funny money is being printed by different countries, simultaneously.

          Sort of like the collapse of the one-hoss shay, except it doesn’t all disappear in a day. The questions are, “How quickly does the world economy collapse? Can some places stay together for a while longer?”

          My original though was that collapse could happen very quickly, but things have held together better than I expected.

          • Nehemiah says:

            “For example, no bank will guarantee payment for international shipments, because so much funny money is being printed by different countries, simultaneously” — The last (only?) time this happened, 2008/2009, it was because they feared the counterparties would lack the wherewithal to repay. They feared they could not be repaid because the system was freezing up, and the system was freezing up because they feared they could not be repaid. This is known as a liquidity crisis. When governments promised “funny money,” everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Liquidity crises are one of the few things that governments actually know how to fix. Not so much solvency crises.

          • Nehemiah says:

            Gail wrote: “things have held together better than I expected.” — The real test isn’t here yet. Producers can still meet demand. When actual production of all liquid fuels begins to decline no matter how much the deeper pocketed buyers are willing to pay, then the crisis will be upon us. Improved technology mainly means, first, that production can stay on a plateau longer (in the case of conventional oil) and, second, that wells will deplete faster than they could be depleted with older technology. We already know that tight oil and deep sea fields deplete very fast, and the IEA said back in 2008 that conventional wells were depleting at something like 7 to 8 percent per year. After the peak, that would drop production 50% in 10 years and 75% in 20 years.

            More fracking somewhere (Russia?) could mitigate this rate of fall somewhat, as would rapid deployment of EV’s or hybrids, and coal to liquids would help some, although NS Germany discovered that coal to liquids did not ramp up as quickly as they needed, and I think you lose a lot of energy in the conversion process too, based on data I saw from WW2. The price mechanism will allocate the falling global supply of oil to its uses of highest value. Global depression (falling production of goods and services, making society as a whole poorer) could push down demand, but I would hardly call that a “solution.”

          • Artleads says:

            I wonder myself why I don’t feel panic-stricken most of the time.

            I try to get down to absolute simplest things that are clear to me.

            – I can use a lot less electricity if push comes to shove, but I need SOME electricity in a predictable and well managed way.

            – Small communities of like minded people can work fairly well, with a lot of proactive effort.

            – I can only see a small way forward, and try to support a very limited and seemingly cheap supply line. (I find that the most useful industrial products are things like toilet paper, knife blades, “Band Aid”, tape, ETC.) but the supply chains that go with these remain a mystery. (And so let it be,)

            – I talk about using the coal in the ground under the village to totally uncomprehending people, but remain SO grateful for the still working grid.

            – I’m quarter way (I hope) in producing a perennial tuber that could keep us fed for a week in an emergency. It’s going to take a while to get there.

            – Society can and needs to grow an infinite number of useful plants. (But how long can one hold one’s breath?)

            – We have roof catchment, and we’re praying for rain. I’ve allowed the tanks to run dry, and I mustn’t. Fortunately the town well works reliably for now…

        • Oh dear says:

          Goodness.

          As a bubble bursts!

          lol

      • Kowalinen says:

        Yes, apart from knowing how to cultivate farm land, you most certainly need to know how to repair basic electronic and mechanical stuff to experience somewhat of a decent existence post FF abundance scenario.

        Soldering irons, welding machines, 3D printers, spare MOSFETs, electrolytic capacitors, basically a machine shop next to the farm land.

        Keep all the electronics shielded from vibration, humidity, overheat and over-voltages. It’ll last you generations and then some.

        Going full bore subsistence farming will be horrific for the regular IC entitled princess and an early painful death is virtually guaranteed.

        Forget about it and learn some basic mechanical and electrical/electronics engineering. You’d be amazed what you can stitch together.

    • Kowalainen says:

      Gear eventually wear down, gets struck by lightning. Got any hot spares around? A semi-decent soldering station, oscilloscope and multimeter, and an assortment of suitable spare power MOSFET’s ready to be put in service?

      Those semiconductors last an awful long time if kept within specs. However, overvoltages, overtemperature and corrosion makes short work of electronics.

      A beefy surge protector is the bare minimum in the case something goes awry before and after the converters.

      https://www.familyhandyman.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/FH12DJA_POWSUR_05-2.jpg

      And a fairly sized spark gap.

      https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0333/7633/products/tg100.jpg

      Keep the eletronics cool and dry, it’ll last you an amazingly long time.

      • You likely need backups of practically everything. Otherwise, when one piece goes out, you lose the whole system. You cannot count on buying replacement parts.

        • Kowalainen says:

          The world is shock full of electronics. You’ll be fine for 100’s of years. As long as you got the gear to disassemble old electronics and load up on crucial semiconductors, such as power transistors for your inverters.

          They are a dozen a dollar.

          Better even, build one yourself and then you’ll understand how they work.

    • Erdles says:

      My friends 4Kw solar panels generates a massive (measured) 150w at noon in mid-January London. What exactly am I going to do with that, run a PC maybe?

      • As long as you don’t need to keep too many peripherals going at the same time, like an internet router.

        • Nehemiah says:

          Imagine what sort of conditions would bring electronics manufacturing to a halt, and what sort of feedbacks would kick in from that eventuality.
          I’m pretty sure if people find themselves having to scavenge for used electronics, unless it is a very temporary shortage, that there will not be a functioning internet. Or grid. Or potable water. Or trash collection. Or police and fire protection. Or food deliveries.

      • Kowalainen says:

        My PC power supply is close to 1kW.

        No, you can’t run any decent computer with that setup.

        Charge your mobile phone battery, have a few LED lightbulbs lit and run a small pump to get a water trickle from the well.

        If you feel cold, crank out some additions 350 watts with your bicycle. It will make you warm and cozy in no time.

        Folks, it’s time to harden the fsck up and stop being a little entitled princess.

      • misanthropr#7 says:

        Somthing is way wrong. Ive measured many a solar panel. They lose about 2% a year. I measured some 20 year old ones And they were at about 60% of rated power. Even if your angle was way way off the optimum you would see more power coming off a 4kw panel array than that. With a compromise angle halfway between summer and winter angles ive never seen noon power lower than 90% of rated power with new manufacture panels. sometimes power is a bit over rated but not much.

        • Nehemiah says:

          Were the panels made in China? Or does that make a difference?

          • misanthropr#7 says:

            Ive never really noted country of origin or even manufacturer for that matter. Its a good question. I had some newpowa china panels at one point which are bottom end china but they worked just fine.

            • Nehemiah says:

              BTW, it just dawned on me that if a PV panel’s output fell 40% in 20 years, that was a decline rate of somewhat less than 2% a year because of compounding. Still, I can’t see solar replacing base power supplies rather than supplementing them. Intermittency plus low EROI plus a non-trivial decline rate plus the use of materials that are not abundant, and which if foregone will further lower the panel’s efficiency, and the sophistication of this technology such that if civilization experienced a hiccup the technology might become so lost that it could not be restored by a simpler civilization during the recovery phase all combine to suggest to me that solar is likely to be, not a destination, but one of the stepping stones that will eventually lead back to firewood.

    • I responded to this article a few days ago. I don’t think that I can search the comments (with this new system) to find out where I answered, however.

      • Artleads says:

        I had a mild questions (for as bad as that is, China trawlers are perhaps more damaging to the Caribbean, and I like seeing the muckitymucks scamper a bit): It’s been there a long time threatening to capsize. Is it one of those container vessels that are storing unsellable oil all over the world?

        • It is specifically for unsalable Venezuelan oil, because of Trump regulations. The amount is huge, about 1.3 million barrels.

          I commented earlier that the oceans have lots of oil seeps in them. There is a lot of natural pollution from these oil seeps. I found an article that gave an estimate of the annual amount of worldwide pollution from these seeps. It turns out that if the oil vessel capsizes, the amount of its pollution will be equal to a little less than a third of expected world pollution from seeps.

          Eventually, the oil-eating bacteria will take care of oil from spills and seeps. But it does mean a temporary change to ecosystems, as these oil-eating bacteria take over to fix up the mess.

          • Harry McGibbs says:

            And of course particularly unfortunate for Venezuela with so many of its inhabitants turning to fishing for survival:

            “Josander Oropeza never expected to be a fisherman. He trained as a hairstylist and can barely swim.

            “But now he spends his days, and sometimes nights, five miles out to sea. With only an inner tube to protect him from the depths, he fends off sharks and risks his life to catch a few red snappers to provide for his wife and child.”

            https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/president-maduro-s-hungry-resort-to-a-tyre-and-fishing-line-to-survive-in-venezuela-6887bghzs

            • Food always remains our most important energy source. Somehow, people need to get it and use it, directly or by trading with others for other things they need. Fishing for red snappers using an inner tube is an example of the way things can be done, at least temporarily.

          • Artleads says:

            Thanks. I’m getting to the point where, if it doesn’t have my number on it, I let it go. And try to deal with what is closer at hand. There’s this about deforestation, for instance, also off my radar screen:

            AVAAZ

            Dear friends,

            Half the Earth’s forests are now gone.

            15 BILLION trees are chopped down every year — 476 every single second. That’s our rainforests, jungles, and woodlands being decimated to make space for ever more cattle, palm oil, and soybeans.

  19. avocado says:

    I see a broad analogy between corona and Islamic State. 90% of world military was supposed to fight ISIS (NATO, Russia, Iran, KSA, Israel, Damascus, the Kurds and Baghdad), but it thrived many years. Similarly, corona defeated everyone except a few. ISIS started to wind down when the Russians believed the time had come, in 2015, but I’m not sure this time they have the vaccine as well. It’s like mankind has lost the ability to properly fight its enemies… Or perhaps some people are happy with this. Way too much manipulation. ISIS was defeated, but at the time I thought it will never happen; not impossible this time it occurs too

    • In a finite world, nothing stays the same indefinitely. At some point, humans will no longer be “on top.” Losing the battle to COVID is a sign that humans are not as invincible as they thought the were.

      It is true that ISIS went way after a while, or became easier to defeat. Maybe this will be true for COVID, but I wouldn’t count on it.

      • avocado says:

        Be positive, Gail, be positive, for once

        Some times Pink Floyd’s song Welcome to the Machine is appearing in my mind in this days as Welcome to the Vaccine…

        (;-)

      • Dennis L. says:

        Mere chatter, my bet is on humans, nothing has stopped us yet. The first few times there is a great deal of low hanging fruit for the virus, as it goes forward not so much.

        Dennis L.

        • Kowalainen says:

          Yeah, and here we are worrying about global warming when we recently, relatively speaking, have experienced a goddamn ice age while bombared from orbit with space rock sending the ecosystem into a frozen tailspin.

          Now that was a disaster for mankind? Obviously we are still here. And some people dream up that a collapse of the finance racket will send the “system” into a tailspin.

          How about waking up and taking a sip of some morning coffe and get used to some austerity? I’m thinking so that we got some juice left for tomorrow and a future for the children you guys have produced. With time and advancements in technology, perhaps fusion power will come online.

          Just not yet. Maybe never.

      • Nehemiah says:

        NZ did a fantastically effective job fighting covid, and some other countries in that part of the world did very well too. Europe not as good, and America, well, we have been a joke, with politicians in both parties and technocrats in the CDC all reacting late and often wrongly, with the preferred political values of each party and the profit motive both taking priority over public health. Luckily, this was not a super-lethal disease. The good news is that it can be beat with common sense tactics, just not by us apparently. Vaccines have protected us for so long that we have forgotten how to fight contagions without them. “Darwin Awards” time!

        ISIS: both Israel and US wanted to overthrow Syria and install a more compliant government, ISIS was not a priority for them (especially not under Obama). Of course, we claimed to support the “moderate” rebels, but a lot of those “moderates” kept taking their US supplied weapons and defecting to ISIS. Russia finally came in with the attitude that maintaining stability should be the first priority, and that meant priority number one was defeating all rebels, ISIS and the “moderates” and the intermediate factions alike.

        The neocons in the state dept. hated it and tried to hoodwink the poorly educated Trump into opposing Russia’s assistance to the Syrian government, and they did get him to waffle for a while, but ultimately he seems to have disengaged from the Syrian morass.

  20. Dennis L. says:

    Back to economics, jobs.

    “The automotive tool industry faces a shakeout as automakers confront the need to simplify manufacturing and cut costs, an industry consultant said.”

    Laurie Harbour
    “We are going to lose a lot of our manufacturing base,” Laurie Harbour, president and CEO of Harbour Results Inc., said in a presentation this week. “We could lose 30 percent” of the automotive tool making base.

    The consulting firm estimates that 30 percent of auto tool makers are doing well, 30 percent are in trouble and 40 percent are “on the bubble.”

    Automakers are under pressure to invest in new electric and self-driving vehicles. To do that, Harbour said automakers are going to need to pare their lineups to concentrate on profitable cars and trucks.

    Habour Results estimates only 6.3 percent of General Motors Co.’s fleet and 9.4 percent of Ford Motor Co.’s fleet actually make money. The companies rely heavily on large pickups for profit.”

    Further along in the article:

    “Also, she said, electric-car makers such as Telsa Inc. have fewer design updates and use “very simple tools” for production.”

    Further, further along in the article:

    “’We’re definitely seeing a move of tools back here in North America,” Harbour said. “The challenge is coming here at China prices…My fear is it’s short-lived.'”

    https://www.sme.org/technologies/articles/2020/october/automotive-tool-industry-faces-shakeout/

    OEM manufactures support a vast industrial base with jobs and embedded knowledge. Easy to lose, hard to regain. A guess is things can be done here at China prices excepting pollution, the problem for society is the robotization of the jobs leads to increasing skill requirements leading to a smaller percentage of the population able to compete based on meritocracy, them that’s got, get.

    Dennis L.

    • The article talks about manufacturers needing to simplify manufacturing of gasoline powered vehicles, because adding electric cars adds a whole new set of required parts.

      I am having a hard time believing that the plug-in electric car craze will last much longer. China can push it, because it has a much more coal for electricity than oil for gasoline or diesel. But the UK would be crazy to have electric cars, because of its lack of electricity. In fact, most of Europe is headed toward inadequate electricity because the nuclear power plants are coming to an end, and there isn’t much to replace them with.

      It seems like one of the reasons for moving manufacturing to Asia was to make use of Asia’s cheap coal. This brought manufacturing costs way down and reduced Europe’s electricity needs. Now, Europe is in no position to bring manufacturing back home.

      • Dennis L. says:

        The coal story is compelling, so is the pollution story, the west moved it to China, horrible problem from what I gather, Hong Kong on Causeway Bay was pretty bad in the 1980’s. Cheap labor in China was another factor, that can now be ameliorated with robotics and is being done.

        Were one a conspiracy theorists one might think using up China’s coal and leaving all that pollution behind was not an accident.

        No easy solutions.

        Dennis L.

  21. As usual, a wonderful analysis by Gail. I still say we can respond to this problem easily while providing lots of jobs. Life will look a little different, but at least two big problems could be solved. The number 1 energy sucker on the planet is buildings. If we renovated/rebuilt and built our buildings in a passive solar design, we would not need an AC/heating unit anywhere in the world! The indoor temp stays the same year round no matter where you live.

    The second most energy intensive/sucking activity is the animal slaughter industry. If we can feed 50 billion animals a year, we can feed 10 or 20 billion people a year. We just can’t afford to grow food to feed to animals for slaughter, and we can’t afford it in so many ways: water, soil, pollution, karma, etc.

    The third most energy intensive/sucking activity is transportation. If we developed walkable communities where the public’s needs were all within a five or six mile radius, there would be much less need for individual transportation for every little thing. Imagine if the country lived in walkable communities?

    Revamping homes and office buildings would provide soooo many jobs. In a home, if we don’t use an electric stove, dishwasher, water heater, or AC/heating unit, then a couple of solar panels or a mini wind turbine would provide the electrical needs of the household. Each building could capture water by way of cisterns where it’s easier to pump water from than to purify or pump up from 100+ feet underground.

    I think we can do it. But this would be a smart scramble and not what the World Economic Forum or the Rockefeller Foundations wants for our futures. http://www.nommeraadio.ee/meedia/pdf/RRS/Rockefeller%20Foundation.pdf

    • Dennis L. says:

      Being polite, not trying to win arguments:

      “The number 1 energy sucker on the planet is buildings. ”

      According to eia, residentail uses 21% of total end use energy.
      https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/use-of-energy/

      Passive homes depend on siting, there are air quality issues, they are very difficult and expensive to build. Near my farm a building on a park site was converted to passive, solar I believe for a cost of $500K and based on my personal experience, that seems about right. If you are going to build that way, do it in a recession when labor is cheaper, it is still an expensive home.

      Solar panels? Mounting is a headache, space is a headache, keeping the grass cut around and under them is a headache, putting them on the roof is a headache, keeping the snow off them is a headache. I must have forgotten something.

      Wind turbines are interesting, they are a function of the cube of the air moving through them, the swept area a function of the square of the swept area, they are a pain to erect, a pain to service and the damn magnets rust. Small ones make a comforting noise for some, not much electricity. What would have been exciting was climbing the tower at MREA in Stevens Point and helping with the servicing, 100 foot or so climb. Those who did it told of returning to the ground covered in grease, sort of a guy thing.

      Cisterns may be an idea, given high water/waste water costs in Rochester thinking of using one for the house, but then I don’t water the grass now, so maybe not. In colder climates, maintenance of the piping is a pain, trenching is a pain, need I go on about pain?

      Been there, done that, currently sitting in a very nice, warm home heated by natural gas. An old man, paid my dues, living out my days in some comfort.

      Feel free to try your ideas, they are not cheap and sooner or later one finds an automatic washing machine and dryer are wonderful conveniences – they freed the modern housewife from the drudgery of manual Maytag machines with ringers that broke all the buttons and manual rinse tanks which required filling and emptying and carrying out the clothes in the summer, up the basement stairs only to have birds poop on the sheets, rinse and repeat. We lived that way, mom bought an automatic sometime in her sixties, still carried clothes up and down the stairs until all that work killed her at 98.

      Hope that helps, nice ideas.

      Dennis L.

      • If you live in a smoggy area, or where you have smoke from forest fires, you have to keep washing the solar panels to keep them sort of clean. Even at that, the smog interferes with making solar electricity.

        • Lorraine Sherman says:

          Nothing will work as well as the system we have now, and many third world countries already have intermittent power. In the Dominican Republic they have regular power outages, it’s part of the service and scheduled in. Better to have intermittent power than no power!

          It’s’ about work arounds and best substitutes. If the homes we live in do not require AC or heating because the buildings stay the same temperature year round no matter where you live, then at least we could shelter in our homes during bad weather (heat or cold) in the absence of a grid.

          • Dennis L. says:

            Most likely correct for going off the rail grid, the Milwaukee Road had an electrified section through the mountains, trains going down hills provided electricity for hose going up hills. It proved more expensive than diesel and was abandoned, one of the Rockefellers financed it in the early 20th century.

            Dennis L.

      • Lorraine Sherman says:

        Yes it’s expensive to renovate or retrofit a building into a passive solar design, but starting from scratch would not be much difference in price. I’m thinking of the earth ship design, but cob can work in most climates. Am working on a passive solar green house that could function as shelter from sweltering heat here in Florida during the summer months if we ever lose power for real. Already hang my clothes to dry, have not owned a dryer in maybe 6-7 years and don’t have problems with bird poop.

        • What do you do for food and for a job? How do you know that your passive solar house is in the right place to meet your need for food and a job?

        • steve says:

          I built a passive solar house in SC in 1990. It was wonderful in winter when the sun was shining. I couldn’t get a mortgage without installing an HVAC system (I intended to anyway), and it is essential for a reasonably comfortable life in summertime. It is too humid here. There’s no way my thermal mass could cool and dehumidify the house.

      • Lorraine Sherman says:

        Hello Dennis. I’m thinking in terms of the earth ship, cob house, partially underground home, and also in terms of small, local and individual efforts. For instance, on my ‘to do’ list is a passive solar greenhouse, where I could take shelter from the heat in the summer if there was no power. I have no hopes of a national response, but I do have hope for individual responses.

        Have you read this? http://www.empcommission.org/docs/A2473-EMP_Commission-7MB.pdf

        The document is called “Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the US from EMP Attack.” Congress created a commission to research and report back the findings of an EMP or large solar flair, and the findings are ugly. So ugly in fact that the US would face an 80-90% fatality rate in short order.

        To all the visitors of this site, I highly recommend reading the report in the above link – especially the chapters on food and water. Shelter from the elements would come in third for necessity after water and food.

        Rebuilding and retrofitting buildings/homes does not mean we’ll get the same house/office building. Everything would have to be smaller based more on need rather than desire; for instance a 10×15 space of life saving heat without the need for an energy source in -20 degree weather would be well ….. life saving, right?

        BTW, have lived without a dryer for about 6-7 years and very few issues with bird poop. I still use my $100 used washer bought 6 years ago though.

        A final resource for anyone who is interested- created by a guy who read the report in the link above: http://www.survivorlibrary.com/

        The site is a broad and large compilation of books from 18th and 19th century technology in PDF format.

        I wonder what Gail would think of that report?

        • Lots of concerns expressed regarding what is ahead. I didn’t see many who thought about loss of jobs, going ahead, or inability to buy/afford food.

          I talked to my sister Lois today. She has a friend in Uganda, who lost her job teaching at a university, as a result of the shutdown. The friend said that those in Uganda are used to epidemics, since epidemics are frequent in Uganda. They have set up a small school, presumably to get a little income. They are also growing manioc root (tapioca) in the forested area to eat. That, plus a few vegetables grown in the margins will provide enough food for them to get by.

          In a warm climate, if land is more or less “free,” this kind of solution might work. In a cold climate, most of us cannot grow enough food to sustain ourselves. We don’t have a 12 month growing season. Grains store well, but they require a lot of processing–the processing seems to have been a major reason for slaves, long ago. Tuberous roots, grown year around, don’t require as much complexity.

          It sounds like at least a few people in the poor, warm countries will have the skills that they need to survive. People in rich countries keep looking for solutions. They seem to think first about how to keep their cell phone charged, and the possibility of electric automobiles running off of solar panels. But not about the essentials of life, like food and a way of cooking the food.

          • Nehemiah says:

            Slaves were needed on large land holdings in pre-industrial times. It was not due to intrinsic difficulties in grain processing; a single farmstead can do that without slaves unless the husbandman is rich enough to own more land than one household can farm. Then he needs slaves or serfs or peons.

        • Robert Firth says:

          Thank you, Lorraine, I suspect this is exactly what will be needed. Not by me, but surely by my children and grandchildren. I shall recommend it to the family. But please have it converted to durable, survivable, human readable form, such as metal tablets stored in a cave in the Andes.

        • Nehemiah says:

          Lorraine wrote: “I have no hopes of a national response, but I do have hope for individual responses.” — Yes, the elites will build their getaways in New Zealand and Paraguay and Patagonia, to which their private jets will whisk them away if the need arises, but until then it is business as usual. When the brown stuff hits the fan, they and the rest of us will all be on our own.

          Individual responses are the only way to go for most people, not only because it is probably too late for a state-led response, but also because those who control the state have no interest in being proactive unless it serves a political or financial purpose.

          However, much better than an individual response if you can find a way to do it is to prepare as part of an organized group so that individual members of a community can specialize, among other advantages. However, that is not easy to arrange in a highly individualistic culture. Also, most people really seem to believe that the industrial system can carry on in the familiar way indefinitely. When I tell them it can’t, most people just smile politely. If they would argue with me, at least I would have them thinking.

      • Kowalainen says:

        Good thing about the colder/snowier areas of the world is that there usually exists hydro power, there is little heating and cooling requirements during summertime when it usually rains a lot (Norway!) and fills up the reservoirs. Furthermore, insulating houses isn’t expensive. Snow is an excellent insulator. You should have seen the “walls” of the house I grew up in the month of Mars. There was cutouts in the wall of snow for the windows, need I say more? At spring all that snow melts and tops up the reservoirs.

        https://apihtawikosisan.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/house-burried-snow-HD-wall.jpg

        In warmer areas, salt storage for the intermittent solar and wind with some dispatchable service from the north to cover for the fluctuations and occasional shortfall.

        Besides, nuke those silly domestic airports from orbit and install HSR and regular service rail side-by side (jobs programs). Bicycles as a main mode of personal transport. Grocery deliveries by route and on lorries. No need for every goddamn pleb to take the car/truck to the grocery store.

        IC 2.0 – a bit less obscene.
        Should be good to the end of this century.

        • humankind evolved to something akin to its present form in sub tropical regions of the world

          ie—where the sun delivered sufficient free heat to guarantee a reasonable chance of ongoing survival of our species.

          For ‘ongoing’ proof, all the major civilisations of ancient times evolved around the tropical line of the Earth. Nature delivered pretty much all they need to live in reasonable comfort.

          We expanded out of those regions to ‘grow’ our own kind. We did it at the expense of ‘other kinds’

          People can live in snows and deserts, but not in sufficient numbers to create large communities. You can live ‘snowed in’ for weeks on end, but only if you have managed to store sufficient resources at other times to allow you to do that. It may look pretty, but without modern amenities it is a constant fight to survive day to day.

          Hydropower?—Where did that joke come from?
          If you are relying on hydropower for survival. you’re dead.

          The smallest worn out part in a hydro power station stops the whole thing.. (to say nothing of the big bits).

          It requires sophisticated machines and expertise to keep up supply of such parts, to say nothing of cables etc.

          but riding a bike in snow like that looks like fun. (for a sunny afternoon)

          • Kowalainen says:

            I am sure the Inuit agree with you.

            What do they know about cold weather.

            And the steppes people from the good old days of Stone Age Siberia. Warm and cozy all year around.

            I’m sure Africa was warm and cozy in the middle of the ice age.

            Surely it didn’t snow there during winter for thousands of years when the Northern and Southern Hemisphere basically was a gigantic glacier. Then those two behemoth space rock struck earth and sent it into a frozen tailspin.

            Warm and cozy. Indeed.

            But Britain, oh, boy. Gunna’ be a rough ride down the Hubbert peak without access to French nukes, Norwegian hydro and gas.

            • I tried to make the point that ‘major civilisations’ grew where it was warm enough

              extreme northern people did not create the structures of civilisation, or invade south

              there wasnt enough energy available

            • Kowalainen says:

              The civilization came from the north and the steppes.

              What is this obsession with civilization arriving from the south? The Western Hunter Gatherers was just a genetic cul de sac. The storm arrived from the east and north as the ice subsided. Hardened mofos living at the edge of the glacier and along the coast of Norway.

              The oldest specimen that shares 99.9 percent of the European genome have been found in goddamn russia. Look up the Kostenki man.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kostyonki%E2%80%93Borshchyovo_archaeological_complex

    • jarvis says:

      lorraine. Just watch “Planet of the Humans” it’s free on YouTube

      • Lorraine Sherman says:

        I did watch the film but I’m not talking about solar and wind to scale – just for personal use at a much reduced need for energy to run lights and low energy use frig, washer. Compare the solar/wind turbine for a passive solar home to a PC. When computers were first invented they took up entire basements, now they fit in the palm of our hand. Shouldn’t each building generate some of it’s own energy needs?

        • Dennis L. says:

          Some years ago MREA had a very nice tour of solar homes in WI. One I visited which seemed to work was inhabited by a single man with occasional company, a woman. His bed was arranged such that it was over a wood burning stove on a lower level, the heat rose. I think he had a hand pump in the kitchen, maybe a ram driven pump in a small creek, he did have some solar cells which he could tilt to match inclination of winter/summer sun, some lead acid batteries and I think a composting toilet. Generally these homes are built into the side of a hill and face south. He had a moderate sized garden which did not look like it was doing very well, gardening is a real talent and requires considerable work.

          It is a young man’s project and maintenance is a pain. Not being negative, my farm house has provision for solar heat, radiant in the floor, controlling the zones is expensive, having storage requires doing so before the house is finished, I used a 1200 gallon waste water tank wrapped in 4″ of foam and have lines to the south side of the garage for solar collectors which I am going to install real soon now, right after I install a 120000 btu LP boiler next summer. It also has a heat pump. Frankly, it is a fiasco.

          My winter solution, a house in Rochester, natural gas, pay the bill.

          Build a net zero house and it will cost, it requires a heat/air exchanger which will plug with lint, dust, whatever, one more thing to maintain. It is hell to find the correct lot for this sort of thing, purchased one in the Quad Cities, best thing I did was sell it having never used it. If you go for it, purchase a book by Joseph Lstiburek, he has a website https://www.buildingscience.com/users/joseph-lstiburek

          Joe wraps his homes in insulation, did that, then wrapped the insulation in plywood so could hang siding which required screwing it as otherwise the nails don’t hold. Hope you are starting to get the idea.

          If you find something which works, post it, there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to do it, even slow it isn’t cheap. I have tried to give you two real world, actual examples that were actually built.

          Lisbon is very nice, climate is lovely, Gail has the right idea, move to a moderate climate.

          Smiling and laughing quietly, going to the moon seems easier. Good luck.

          Dennis L.

          • misanthropr#7 says:

            Joe Lstiburek AKA uncle Joe is a legend in the “green” building community. He is a for real dude not scared to use modern materials. Hes forgotten more than most know. I still like Robert Riversongs work better although I prefer double stud to that truss thing wall assembly he likes. Nothing wrong with 12 inch walls filled with fiberglass B CUZ u can find glass real real cheap! Riversong is a bit more on the “natural” side of things but is still very very very practical. The dream has to have its roots in reality or its just more BS. Just my taste I suppose. The truth is a modern truss/framed house uses a minimum of materials and is very strong. As commonly built its underinsulated and strength is just good enough. Double stud walls too allow more cheap insulation to get decent r values , beef up strength. there is a reason why ventilated attic truss roofs constitute 99% of the structures made. Lstiburek once said ” the ventilated attic is the most underappreciated building assembly” .
            Above all if your looking to do things on the cheap you are looking for contractor excess. The contractor just made 1.8 milllion he doesnt care about those excess materials. He would rather sell it to you for nada rather than take it the dump. And that stuff is CONVENTIONAL BUILDING MATERIALS. You take those cheap wonderful material and craft a superior structure. Lots of glazings on the south side. Your done in 2 years not 5. Or ten. Or never. Framing with a nail gun. Yeah baby!

          • misanthropr#7 says:

            I ll just say. Pause. look left right. No witnesses. Anyone being caught up in the “thermal mass: thing… Thermal mass works alright in hot climates. Cold climates not so much A 4” concrete slab provides all that is effective, Oak ridge laboratory tests.

            • Nehemiah says:

              Thermal mass is ideal for places with hot days and cool nights. Not hot/hot or cold/cold.

            • Kowalainen says:

              Molten or hydrated salt works for community sized “heat” reservoirs.

              The localized thermal mass is called “heat pump” and exist in unlimited amount under your house. It warms your house during winter and cools it during summer.

              If it works, reference case: Sweden.

              http://www.energimyndigheten.se/en/sustainability/households/heating-your-home/heat-pump/

              “A heat pump with an optimized rating can meet 80–95 percent of the heat and hot water needs of the dwelling. The marginal demand beyond this value is covered by electricity or some other source of heat.”

              The frackers need something to do. How about drilling for residential area heat pumps all over US?

        • manipulation of electrons (computers) and the manipulation of energy resources (power stations) cannot be put in comparison to one another

          • Kowalainen says:

            Indeed Norman.

            This YT video should give an indication of the scale of energy needed for the most mundane daily activity such as making a toasted bread.

            https://youtu.be/S4O5voOCqAQ

          • hkeithhenson says:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_center

            “Global data centers used roughly 416 TWh in 2016, nearly 40% more than the entire United Kingdom;”

            • As I understand it, the main physical product of data centres is heat, which must be dissipated to atmosphere

              but perhaps there is a way to explain my point more clearly:

              Set up 2 window boxes

              fill them with food producing plants, (potatoes, wheat, cabbages)—you choose, but remember it’s still confined to window box size, and it is your food source

              Now—

              Set up the most complex soil watering feeding system you can find (you are not limited to size or cost, use an entire data centre if you wish), and program it to operate it automatically throughout the growing season on one window box.

              On the other window box, water it from a can, and sprinkle a bit of fertiliser on now and then

              Let me know how much calorific energy (food to table) each window box produces in a season

        • Solar panels are almost a joke. They generate electricity when you need it least, when it is light outside during the daytime and during the summer, when it is already warm. So you need to store the electricity, and lose part of it in the process. If you are planning to run existing AC appliances (like clothes washer, dish washer, and air conditioner), you will need an inverter.

          We have been in the business of trying to make wind and solar for a long time, and the problems still remain. In theory, if a person overlooks a whole lot of things, it looks like they would work. As a practical matter, they don’t give you very much for the money you have to spend for them.

          • Robert Firth says:

            Gail, once again we learn that the Achilles heel of solar is storage. The best we can do is passive storage in the form of retained heat, which works between day and night and perhaps between a fine day and a cloudy day, but that’s it.

            Here in my village a lot of people spent tons of money on solar panels, but the strong Winter winds tend to blow them off the roof (happened to the previous owners of this house) and the South winds blow sand from Africa all over them. They are perhaps insurance against the occasional power cuts, but surely an expensive and barely practical one.

            I didn’t bother. My last electricity bill was EUR 65 for two months, so you workout the payback time for EUR 6000 of solar panels and EUR 6000 of the other equipment.

            • JesseJames says:

              The cost of solar does not bother me as I install myself. Resulting in an effective 8-10 yr payout and free power afterward. However, grid power is reliable for now and still relatively cheap. I look at solar as insurance of power when the grids start failing, as they will.

    • My concern is that the economy, as we know it, is on the edge of collapse. Reorganizing things the way you suggest would take a lot of materials, including energy products. It would be necessary to tear down a whole lot of buildings that are not functioning fairly well. We are not in a position where we can do what you are asking the system to do.

      Also, our economy works quite well as a self-organizing system. It doesn’t work well with someone (you or someone else) dictating. the citizens need to be able to afford all of this stuff. The buildings need to be convenient to jobs. There probably needs to be international trade and a functioning financial system to make this work. There is already a huge debt in the world. It wouldn’t be possible to just pile more debt on top of what we have.

      • Lorraine Sherman says:

        The Tiny House guy in Texas said this: “Everything we’ll ever need has already been made.” The future of industry will be salvage. I see it happening in small communities of ‘survivors’ who pull together and rebuild together, like the old barn raising events of yesteryear. I’ve seen it in the Bahamas in recent times where families and friends get together and build their homes as a group.

        I see a grim a future too, so I’m with you on that note Gail. I think we could re-vamp nationally with a visionary leader at the helm ( maybe using the military for labor), but that’s not likely to happen.

        No, any revamping will be done at the local level and hopefully spread out from there. One way or another re-organization will happen………… time will tell what kind of re-organization.

      • Lorraine Sherman says:

        Gail, I’m not about dictating at all. And there has been international trade for centuries, long before oil and gas. I believe if we did have a collapse, international trade would resume eventually. As for paper debt, it will eventually blow away. Any future honest system will require honest money. I hope the public comes to understand how vicious inflation is and that it’s due to unbacked fiat currency that has no intrinsic value other than confidence. After the US default on the gold standard in 1971, we relied on oil as the backing for our currency. Unfortunately the US has weaponized its currency and the other kids on the block don’t want to play anymore. Of course printing and continuous debt creation does not inspire confidence in the currency either.

        So we are in agreement, under the present system the re-vamp I’m talking about could not happen.

        • Nehemiah says:

          “there has been international trade for centuries, long before oil and gas” — Yes, but on a vastly smaller scale than today, and much slower. And only luxury goods could be affordably transported overland for a significant distance.

          • Robert Firth says:

            Agreed. In fact, most economists in the 18th and 19th centuries advised that trade should be confined to luxury goods, that is, goods cheap at the production site but expensive at the delivery site. The twentieth century discovered labour arbitrage, get the widgits made by peasants for $2 a day, and it has been a disaster.

            • in the UK in the 1700/1800s the steam pump made deep coal mining practical, canals made cheap coal transport possible, and with cheap transport the universal domestic/industrial consumption of it.

              This went on until the railways pretty much put the canals out of business

      • info says:

        @Gail Tverberg

        Lots of buildings will have to be scrapped. And all its materials that could be recycled be recycled.

        • Ideally, the buildings could just be reused for another purpose, until the fell apart. For example, unused malls could be used for housing

          Reusing concrete (or worse yet, reinforced concrete) doesn’t work well.

    • Nehemiah says:

      50 billion animals? I googled this and got about 23 billion or a little less, not 50 billion, but 20 of that 23 are chickens, most of whom must be young chickens killed early for fryers. Using some back of the envelope calculations to adjust for differences in body mass, I figure this is the equivalent of about a half billion humans. Of course, cows weigh a lot more than a typical human, but animals also need little besides feed (grown with fossil fuels), water, and prophylactic antibiotics (which also make them grow larger, not an authorized use of antibiotics, but surely farmers take this valuable side effect into consideration). Humans consume a lot more resources, not just food, water, and minimal medical care.

  22. MG says:

    The pope supported registered gay partnerships

    https://www.time24story.com/2020/10/the-pope-supported-registered-gay-partnerships.html

    As the implosion of the populations continues, the need for registered partnerships becomes inevitable. The marriages, facing frequent divorces and rejection of propagation, create the need for the partnerships, which can be dissolved when needed.

    • avocado says:

      I suppose one aspect of this is that Evangelical Churches in Latam dislike gays, so CC must differentiate itself. Good move, I suppose it will pay back

    • Oh dear says:

      RCC is still saying that gay s/x is a mortal sin, in so far as it ever says anything these days. The official ‘Catechism’ still calls it ‘gravely disordered’. Nothing official has been changed.

      This is all about PR for RCC. Not even RC take this pope seriously.

      Civil unions would have been considered ‘a near occasion of grave sin’ in the past, a situation of temptation. RCC could not care less about ‘souls’ any more, only about its only status, money and influence in a secularised world.

      It should do the world a favour and just shut down, but then they would have to get proper jobs.

      • D3G says:

        But wait, there’s more. If Biden wins:

        Televangelist: If Biden Wins, “Perverse S/x” with Cows will Ensue

        https://friendlyatheist.substack.com/p/televangelist-if-biden-wins-perverse

        We’ll have to rewrite the old love songs.

        🎵There’s something in the way she moos,
        attracts me like no other hereford🎶

        • Oh dear says:

          Illegal in most places in the world, blue on map represents legal, including various USA territories.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_bestiality_by_country_or_territory#/media/File:Legality_of_zoophilia_by_country_or_territory.svg

          • D3G says:

            To say it is legal in locations might be misleading. I mean, do you really need to have a law against it?

          • Bei Dawei says:

            I like how “Fine” is one of the labels. Hooray, Wikipedia says bestiality is fine in Russia!

          • Bei Dawei says:

            Oh, this is hilarious. I think I just got modded for mentioning zoophilia!

            • Bei Dawei says:

              (Never mind, no I didn’t.)

              I always thought that if Greece, Wales, and New Zealand formed some kind of alliance, they could be the OPEC of sheep-shagging!

            • Nehemiah says:

              This reminds me of a story: A Kiwi farmer is on holiday in Aus when he meets an Oz farmer. They start talking and after a while the Oz farmer invites the Kiwi back to his farm to have a look around and compare notes. Whilst out down the back paddock they come across a sheep with its head caught up in the wire fence. The Kiwi farmer says “Hey mate, do ya know what we do in NZ whun we find a sheep like this?” Then he drops his trousers and starts rooting the sheep. After he finishes he turns to the Aussie and says “Wuld ya like a turn, mate?”. “Hell Yeah” says the Aussie, who then drops his trousers, bends over ,and sticks his head between the wire.

        • Robert Firth says:

          “Remember, Simmental, I’m a one cow guy.”

      • Dennis L. says:

        dear,

        I really hope they do not shut down, much does not work, much does, better to have what works than nothing. Seems social/political life is much like evolution, most mutations don’t work, social is a much larger scale, affects many more people in real time. We are having a heck of a time here in the US, seems like grasping at straws.

        Dennis L.

        • Oh dear says:

          I doubt that it would make much difference to UK if RCC shut down here. Only about 1% of the population goes to weekly mass anyway. And RCC is thoroughly ‘liberal’ in UK. Polls show that RC statistically have the same attitudes as everyone else.

          More concerning is the establishment of the Anglican church, which continues to sit in the House of Lords and to assert a ‘right’ to interfere. It is surely time that was ended, simply because it is obnoxious to democracy. In fact the whole unelected second chamber needs to go – and the monarchy.

          A broader problem is that parliament thinks that it has a magical ‘moral compass’ that allows it to override the demos. Eg. 86% of UK support to right to end one’s life with assistance, but parliament refuses to allow it. 2/3 of the UK public supports the legalisation of recreational cannabis but parliament refuses it.

          At some point parliament needs to either accept democracy or admit that we do not live in one. A system whereby the demos can call a referendum on any matter whatsoever, if they get a set number of applicants, maybe 2 million in a petition, and the democratic decision is binding on parliament by law, would be more congruous with democracy.

          Of course conservative Christians must have a voice the same as everyone else, but democracy must rest on the majority decision in any democracy worthy of the name.

          In reality, the British state is a capitalist state that exists to represent the interests of organised capital, and the fake two-party ‘democracy’ is just window dressing for that.

          • Nehemiah says:

            While I am all for finding a way to get better men in government, the path to good government does not run through enacting into law the popular will on every question. As Churchill quipped, “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” The older I get, the more elitist I become, but I have in mind an elite of wisdom and ethics, not of wealth. If that is not a “democracy worthy of the name,” then we can just call it something else.

            I also like Chesterton’s “democracy of the dead:”
            “Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.”

            • Kowalainen says:

              My ‘elitist’ view is that the productive shall be the voters.

              Rocket scientists, carpenters, plumbers, engineers, nurses, artists, doctors, welders, roughnecks, etc.

              You know, the glue that makes BAU (s)tick. A.k.a. providers of bread and circuses.

              Can’t show that you are DIRECTLY useful for another person or participate in the competitive collaborative process called market economy – you’re out.

              Governments shall be downscaled to the bare minima with computers doing the menial paper “work”. Otherwise they inevitably go bonkers with various socialist engineering projects with the herd. Overly educated and spiritual halfwits can not be trusted as their sanctimonious hypocricy gets the best of them and mankind in general.

              For the unemployable and useless eaters: UBI. If you’re on UBI – no right to reproduce and not enough money to raise children anyway.

              Dystopian?

    • Thierry Chassine says:

      Kind of good news, but surprising too.
      I would have been happy about it a few years ago when I used to live with my partner.
      But now I am single and happy about it!
      Thouh I would like to share some thoughts: Most christians are unhappy whtih that decision, including my parents! I guess they won’t accept it easily. So my opinion now is that the Pope and the Church have an agenda of their own and I am much skepical about their sincerity.

      • Oh dear says:

        Many say that it is a RCC strategy to prevent same-sex marriage.

        > …. But for others, including many advocates in the LGBTQ community, the pope’s focus on civil unions shows how little has actually changed in the Catholic Church’s stance on same-sex marriage.

        “It ends up being an obstacle to reaching equality,” said María Rachid, a politician and LGBTQ rights advocate in Argentina who played a leading role in the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in the country in 2010, when the now-pope led the Catholic Church there.

        Rachid said Pope Francis, then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, took a similar position in support of civil unions as he opposed same-sex marriage in the country. “It’s a strategy to prevent marriage,” Rachid said…

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2020/10/21/what-pope-franciss-comments-about-gay-families-could-mean-lgbtq-attitudes-worldwide/

        • Nehemiah says:

          So the Pope has staked out a position intermediate between those who think it goes too far and those who think it does not go nearly far enough. As a US congressman once remarked, “There’s nothing in the middle of the road but dead dogs and yellow stripes.”

      • Oh dear says:

        Another aspect of the ‘politics’ of this documentary:

        > …. Some Vatican critics are cynical about the timing of the new documentary, seeing it as a ploy to divert attention from a growing financial scandal in the Holy See.

        Last month, the Pope effectively fired Cardinal Giovanni Becciu, the powerful head of the office that oversees the canonisation of saints. He has been accused of embezzlement of Vatican funds, which he denies. Last week, a 39-year-old Italian woman linked to the Cardinal was also arrested.

        Francis, his critics say, is a shrewd political operator who knows a controversy over civil partnerships will overshadow the stench of financial corruption at its heart….

        https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8870255/ANDREW-PIERCE-Pope-Francis-declared-support-sex-civil-partnerships.html

  23. Oh dear says:

    All that talk of Hindus made me fancy a night raga after my tikka this evening.

    • Kowalainen says:

      Vegetarian food from India is absolutely fantastic.

      I gotta play that tune on my stereo rig.

      The best part of India is Hinduism adapted for export – Buddhism.

      “I am not the first Buddha who came upon Earth, nor shall I be the last. In due time, another Buddha will arise in the world – a Holy One, a supremely enlightened One, endowed with wisdom in conduct, auspicious, knowing the universe, an incomparable leader of men, a master of angels and mortals.”
      — Siddhartha Gautama

      Now, what, not who, will Buddha 2.0 be? 🤔

  24. Kowalainen says:

    You don’t have to agree with me, but then you soon discover how it feels being wrong.

    Yes, it is happening everywhere, even in Russia.

    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/oct/19/want-a-bicycle-by-christmas-if-you-leave-it-till-december-there-will-be-no-stock

    “The massive surge in demand for bicycles during the Covid-19 shutdown has caused shortages of bikes worldwide, with the industry warning that anyone leaving their shopping too late is likely to be disappointed this holiday season.”

    It’s about time for the OFW crowd to place the orders filling up those empty, oh well, they aren’t so empty after all, container ships with bicycles and tricycles.

    Then it is simply a matter of following the #Rules.

    https://centurytrek.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/a334b_the-rules.jpeg

    • Yes, even if we get some sort of very interim period of quasi UBI – say from months upto few years only – the changes in attitudes (and consumption habits) will be significant.

      Similarly shocking could be a scenario in which Asia goes suddenly circular autarky, shutting down exports etc..

      I recall debating elderly gentleman on the street this very summer, discussing pros and cons of his new shiny ebike (model/brand) choice.
      I was quite perplexed how informed he was on the complex subject.

      • Amazon seems to have quite a number of bicycles in stock.

        • As they report in the article, it’s a combination of factors: large spike in demand (buyer’s mania) people having more free time, also perhaps urge wanting “to have a nice thing” in depressing times, and $50k pickup is out of question, so lets have a nice bike instead.. plus as they explained the supply chain is somewhat broken. And I can verify many shops have very little to choose from, there is always the wrong color/model/size available only etc..

          It’s a bit similar to previous manias in weapons/bullets, low production volume sports cars from the big auto, various seasonal gardening supplies if/when the weather is off several months suddenly etc..

          • Kowalainen says:

            Yes, a shortage does not equal an absence of bicycles. But finding one that is half-decent and according to your size and intended use isn’t easy.

            The upper mid-range and high-end bicycles are still somewhat available due to their fatter margins. I got my carbon fibre gravel bike in two weeks some time ago and now it is out of stock.

            Bicycles, parts, accessories and clothing seems to fly off the shelves as we are approaching the holiday season.

  25. Oh dear says:

    Re: consciousness

    It has always been my own intuition that consciousness is in some sense an activity of energy. After all, if consciousness is not a ‘property’ of matter, which seems a not entirely unreasonable assumption, then that only obviously leaves energy. The human body is a dissipative structure and consciousness is a byproduct of that energy dissipation.

    It is unclear whether the present neuroscientist sees consciousness as epiphenomenal to the electromagnetic field that is produced by electrical signal transmissions in the brain. He seems to call the field a ‘byproduct’ and yet he seems to attribute agency or causality to it, which seems to be a confusion of language. Presumably he knows what ‘byproduct’ means.

    > Human consciousness is created by the brain’s ‘energy field’ which comes from the electric signals of the organ’s neurons, claims scientist

    A professor of neuroscience at the University of Surrey claims to have solved the long-standing mystery of what creates human consciousness.

    According to Dr Johnjoe McFadden, the electromagnetic field produced by the brain’s neurons is what produces this uniquely human trait.

    Vast amounts of research has gone into deciphering why humans have awareness of one’s own existence, whereas other animals do not. [?]

    Previous attempts to understand this have involved the spiritual and supernatural, including suggesting it comes from a soul.

    But Professor McFadden is basing his theory, published in the journal Neuroscience of Consciousness, on well-known scientific fact.

    ‘How brain matter becomes aware and manages to think is a mystery that has been pondered by philosophers, theologians, mystics and ordinary people for millennia,’ he says.

    ‘I believe this mystery has now been solved, and that consciousness is the experience of nerves plugging into the brain’s self-generated electromagnetic field to drive what we call “free will” and our voluntary actions.’

    Much of the brain’s function remains a mystery but scientists do know that messages are passed around by tiny electrical signals via specialised cells called neurons.

    As a result, the brain creates a small electromagnetic field, also an established fact.

    It is routinely detected by brain-scanning techniques such as electroencephalogram (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) but has been dismissed as irrelevant. [emphasis added – maybe that is what consciousness is in a causal sense]

    But Professor McFadden believes it is far from irrelevant and is instead the answer to one of the most enduring riddles in science.

    In his article, he explains that this field is created by the very messages which constitute a person, a byproduct of every thought, movement and process. [emphasis added]

    As a result, he suggests, it is the very core of what constitutes consciousness, driving free will and all voluntary actions. [emphasis added]

    It remains purely theoretical and it is currently completely unknown as to how this could be proved. [an important point. presumably by playing about with the electromagnetic field itself in an isolated manner, if that is possible, and report what happens]

    However, Professor McFadden is bullish about the potential of his theory, saying it could lead to the development of consciousness in robots….

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8863229/Human-consciousness-actually-brains-energy-field-claims-scientist.html

    • Oh dear says:

      A bit more on the McFadden theory.

      > New Theory Suggests Consciousness Is the Brain’s “Energy Field”

      …. Most scientists today have discarded this view, known as dualism, to embrace a ‘monistic’ view of a consciousness generated by the brain itself and its network of billions of nerves. By contrast, McFadden proposes a scientific form of dualism based on the difference between matter and energy, rather than matter and soul.

      The theory is based on scientific fact: when neurons in the brain and nervous system fire, they not only send the familiar electrical signal down the wire-like nerve fibres, but they also send a pulse of electromagnetic energy into the surrounding tissue. Such energy is usually disregarded, yet it carries the same information as nerve firings, but as an immaterial wave of energy, rather than a flow of atoms in and out of the nerves.

      This electromagnetic field is well-known and is routinely detected by brain-scanning techniques such as electroencephalogram (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) but has previously been dismissed as irrelevant to brain function. Instead, McFadden proposes that the brain’s information- rich electromagnetic field is in fact itself the seat of consciousness, driving ‘free will’ and voluntary actions….

      https://www.technologynetworks.com/neuroscience/news/new-theory-suggests-consciousness-is-the-brains-energy-field-341866

      • The “theory of consciousness” seems to be a crowded field. I find lots of entries when I look for it on Google.

        Even “McFadden Theory of Consciousness” leads to a huge number of hits. Apparently, McFadden’s theory is from 2002 and later (2013), and others have been writing on related subjects.

        One that sounds interesting:

        The Electromagnetic Brain: EM Field Theories on the Nature of Consciousness
        By Shelli Renée Joye · 2020 (Available November 10, 2020)

        • Details, in nontechnical terms, 12 credible theories, each published by prominent professionals with extensive scientific credentials, that describe how electromagnetic fields may be the basis for consciousness

        • Explores the work of William Köhler, Susan Pockett, Johnjoe McFadden, Rupert Sheldrake, Ervin Laszlo, William Tiller, Harold Saxton Burr, Sir Roger Penrose, Stuart Hameroff, Mari Jibu, Kunio Yasue, Karl Pribram, Alfred North Whitehead, and James Clerk Maxwell, as well as the author’s own theories.

      • Kowalainen says:

        Mmm, yeah, some more “magic” attributed on what conciousness is.

        It’s about time to come to the realization that not all manifestation have a measurable property.

        Mathematics is a manifestation of human affairs. Can you measure mathematics? Is it possible to measure a great book? How about a good song and movie? It depends on the context, right?

        Natural Law does not depend on context. It simply just is. And it is ulitmately beyond our comprehension. Because a hallucination isn’t a manifestation of objective reality. It is a phenomenon of computation.

        We’d be stuck in infinite recursion and regression trying to reverse engineer the brain and the computation that give rise to subjective experience.

    • Oh dear says:

      Google-translated from French:

      > Our consciousness could come from electromagnetic waves

      …. At the root of all reasoning about consciousness is what McFadden refers to as “the linking problem” – understanding our ability to integrate information across time, space, attributes and ideas in a conscious mind. Concretely, how are the disparate components of a visual scene (colors, textures, lines, movements, etc.), which are nevertheless processed in distinct regions of the brain, brought together to form a unified conscious percept? This type of problem, involving the planning and execution of several sequential steps, is nevertheless instantly grasped and resolved in its entirety as integrated information. The challenge is therefore to understand how the brain achieves this integration.

      McFadden points out that according to physicist Rolf Landauer, “information is physical”, so integrated information, if it exists, must be encoded by a physically integrated substrate. However, there are physical systems which encode information integrated in space in a single instant: force fields. For example, the electromagnetic field represents at any point in space an integration of information concerning the type, distribution and movement of local charges. Unlike temporal integration, force fields physically integrate complex information that can be downloaded simultaneously from any point in the field.

      This is what led McFadden to his theory. “The idea that the seat of consciousness is simply the electromagnetic field of the brain may initially sound bizarre, but is no more extraordinary than the claim that the seat of consciousness is the matter of the brain,” he points out. According to him, it is therefore in the electromagnetic field of the brain that the information encoded in millions of physically separated neurons would be gathered. It is in this energy field that the problems would be understood in their entirety.

      The author recognizes that many questions remain unanswered, such as the degree and extent of synchrony required to encode conscious thoughts, the potential influence of drugs on the electromagnetic field, etc. In the meantime, McFadden believes that the fact that we have not yet succeeded in creating robots with conscience, or “sentimental” artificial intelligence , is proof that the models of conscience proposed so far are incorrect. According to his own theory, it would suffice to recreate in a machine the field of electric waves generated in our brain to breathe a bit of consciousness into it….

      https://trustmyscience.com/notre-conscience-pourrait-provenir-d-ondes-electromagnetiques/

  26. Oh dear says:

    Can you imagine just lying in bed for 5 years, scoffing deliveries of fast food all day?

    They had to use a crane to get him to hospital lol.

    > Britain’s 50-stone fattest man is hoisted out of his flat by CRANE for treatment after takeaway addict’s 10,000-calorie-a-day eating habit left him stuck inside for five years

    Jason Holton, 30, from Camberley, Surrey, (left, in his hospital bed) signed up to JustEat in 2014 and spent £30 a day on takeaways, including doner kebab meat, chips and chicken chow mein washed down with 1.5 litres of orange juice and five cans of diet coke. He became depressed and ‘waited for my heart to give up’, but eventually called the emergency services and was winched out of his two-bed maisonette (right – with the window he was removed from circled in red) in a seven-hour operation that involved structural engineers propping up the floor in case he fell.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8862653/Britains-50-stone-fattest-man-hoisted-flat-CRANE.html

  27. Yoshua says:

    Gail

    UFO information is classified Top Secret.

    I don’t have access to the information…for obvious reasons.

    James Fox was told by his secret contact (Bigelow?) who was told by a Pentagon big wig (Deputy Secretary of Defence?) that They Are Walking Among US.

    Dr. Kit Green’s paper is on line…

    Clinical Medical Acute & Subacute Field Effects On Human Dermal & Neurological Tissues

    …but it only deals with unclassified information.

    The phenomenon is secretive with a clandestine agenda.

  28. Fred says:

    Facts coming out of the (free) Beyond Oil seminar.

    – Renewable power generation is now cheaper than FF and the price continues to fall quite fast.
    – New battery tech approaching production ready.

    Hopium:
    “Governments all around the world are using the coronavirus crisis to get behind major initiatives in renewable energy, and reduce both their carbon output and their dependence on overseas oil.

    As the world comes out of this crisis, investing in new skills, jobs and physical energy infrastructure in the renewables space will boost economies and the fight against climate change.”

    Based on their material, our best hope to avoid fast collapse is a fast ramp up of renewables so we can preserve FF for critical uses.

    Gail’s figures say that’s not possible for everyone. Not enough net energy.

    Perhaps TPTB will cull a number of countries out of the current industrial civilisation group and leave them to go third world, so a smaller group can carry on with the remaining FF.

    That’s Orlov’s latest theory anyway.

    That means more colour revolutions folks. BLM?

    • The “facts” you are quoting in the beginning are not facts. Intermittent electricity from wind and solar is in no way equivalent to dispatch-able electricity.

      There might be new batteries, but the issue is storing electricity from summer to winter. This doesn’t work with any battery.

      • There are basically two approaches (extremes) for batt storage in offgrid or hybrid mode with backup:

        – rich people can afford to overspend on gargantuan seasonal buffer
        (having battery capacity ~3-5x larger than usually advertised)

        – while rest of the people must heavily under size their system
        (doing without – no drier or big oven etc, counting every kW/h and eliminating previous appliance dependency in several steps)

        • It seems like most people use something like burned wood for heating plus something like bottled gas for cooking. Gasoline or diesel is used for operating equipment of any kind. A solar hot water heater is used for heating hot water. Clothes are hung outside on a line to dry. The only thing electricity is used for is a few minor usages like operating a clothes washer, television, computer, and lights. Perhaps with such limited usage such as that, battery capacity 3 to 5 times larger than usually advertised might be useful for seasonal backup, especially if you are depending on a backup generator powered by diesel.

          If you are actually planning on doing very much with solar, then I expect that you need a whole lot more solar panels and seasonal storage becomes much more of a problem.

          People don’t stop to think that manufacturing is a heavy user of electricity. Food growing, transport, and processing is a heavy user of both oil processing and diesel. Doing a few minor things at home with solar panels doesn’t do a whole lot for the overall system, I am afraid.

        • I just got quotation for my house PV gear:
          – 6,75 kWp,
          – 3 storage modules 3.6kVA 4.8kWh each,
          – off-grid autonomous installation.
          Almost 19 k$ incl. VAT all together. Crazy.

          • You can get such gear for fraction of the cost (perhaps 1/3-1/2), installed diy and preferably not mounted on the roof (avoid other issues). As that price very likely includes some mark up for the storage system (OEM proprietary) as well as hefty installer fee..

            Besides you can’t run much on ~3.6kVA/5kWh anyway -> that’s very poor household (energy-power starved) situation.. relatively speaking.
            However, in some crazy regions-countries you can knock the price down via “green” subsidies. If the economy doesn’t collapse immediately in ~3-5yrs, it’s perhaps advisable to wait for better offers (and specs) down the road..

      • Dave says:

        A possible system for storing electricity from summer to winter could be using surplus electricity to move electricity powered locomotives running off of catenaries like a trolly, to tow unit trains, perhaps filled with rock, to a significantly higher elevation, then use regenerative braking for the trains to bring them down to a lower elevation to put electricity into the grid. It would only require one set of tracks between the different elevations, although two might be more convenient. The storage area at the top and bottom could consist of as many parallel sets of tracks as needed for the storage capacity.

        This is essentially the same concept as pumped storage where the water is moved to a higher elevation, except that no dams or water are required.

        I originally thought of this in regards to west Texas, where there is limited capacity for pumped storage, but significant area for dry storage. And lots of wind power, which is more available at night, with limited spare capacity for peak generation to move in the electrical infrastructure. In addition, peak residential usage is for air-conditioning, which is not normally at night.

        Regards, Dave

        • You could never build enough trains to do this. The materials/cost of the trains would be very high. You would have to have trains to roll back down whenever you need electricity in the winter, which would be pretty much continuously.

          • Dennis L. says:

            Messed up my reply, wrong location. Milwaukee Road did this , used trains going downhill to move those going uphill, some losses of course, etc. Took it all out, went diesel.

            Dennis L.

            • Robert Firth says:

              A rather old idea. The Pharos of Alexandria installed an elevator (the world’s first). The tourists, of whom there were many, walked up to the top, and rode the elevator back down. The counterweight was a pile of wood, which of course on being raised to the top helped feed the fire. And after about 100 AD the tourists got to see the world’s first Fresnel Lens.

            • Norman Pagett says:

              am interested in your comment about the fresnel lens

              i thought it was invented in the early 1800s?

            • Robert Firth says:

              For Norman: the mathematics underlying the Fresnel lens can be found in the Catoptera of Heron of Alexandria. Its realisation is problematic, granted, but contemporary accounts of the light emitted by the Pharos seem to admit of no other explanation.

              The key insight, by the way, was Heron’s “least time” (‘brachistochrone’) theorem: that light always adopts the path that takes least time. From that, the law of reflection falls out in one diagram, and Snell’s law of refraction falls out in three lines. We know Heron built a parabolic reflector; the Fresnel lens is simply an adaptation of that principle to refraction rather than reflection.

            • Kowalainen says:

              Norman and Robert,

              “We are a species with amnesia.”
              — Graham Hancock.

          • Dave says:

            For a start, one could use all of the rail cars now used to haul coal to the coal fired power stations, the electric locomotives wouldn’t need to stay with the weight trains.

            And they would be a benefit if they were useful enough to balance out cloudy days for solar, or calm days for wind power. Right now, gas turbine have to be slowed or taken of line when renewables are plentiful relative to the demand, then be spun up again. Not only is it inefficient, it makes the gas plants hard to amortize, which gets passed through to the rate payers.

            If we are to continue to support our current world population, its clear no one thing will solve our energy problem. For any major base load electricity replacement we probably would have to use a major increase some type of nuclear power, except we are scared to death of it. I understand that at one point France got 80% of there electricity that way, reprocessed the fuel, and never had a noticeable incident.

            There are many small things that could be done, but we would have to increase the incentives substantially. For example, a fossil carbon tax sufficient to replace the payroll tax for social security would result in about a $5 increase in gas prices at the pump, with similar increases for electricity generation. However, none of the politicians would ever off-set such a tax, they almost immediately start talking about all the good new things they can do with the new source to money. And I don’t trust them as far as I could through them!

            Wish I could stick around to see how it all turns out!

  29. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Will coronavirus break the UK? …The pandemic has highlighted the uneasy and unequal nature of the UK’s devolution settlement.

    “Just as the virus has been most deadly to those with underlying health issues, the crisis has homed in on frailties in the UK’s institutions, pulling at the seams of the union.”

    https://www.ft.com/content/05bcdeed-ce2d-4009-a3bc-cf9bb71c43d5

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “UK dividends suffer 49% fall in Q3.”

      https://www.investmentweek.co.uk/news/4021989/uk-dividends-suffer-49-fall-q3-link

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “One of the Bank of England’s independent monetary policymakers indicated on Tuesday he was minded to vote soon for more stimulus in response to a deteriorating economic situation.”

        https://www.ft.com/content/073fc77c-38c8-446c-bc82-fa8e0b4c9626

      • Wow! 49% drop in dividends!

      • Minority Of One says:

        When I first found out about Peak Oil back in March 2003, just before the invasion of Iraq, seemed to me the writing was on the wall for pension funds. Why would you pay into a pension fund for decades when at the end of it, you will get either little or nothing? So I have never paid into one if I had a choice in the matter. With such a huge fall in dividend payments, perhaps those currently paying into pension funds might attain a collective awakening and wonder where the cash for their pension is going to come from? Too much hopium and wishful thinking.

        • I guess the one hope is that government bail outs will come to pension funds as they bail out everything else (with lots and lots of printed funny money). There will be huge inflation for all goods purchased, but in nominal terms, pensions may sort of pay out, at least for a little while. Clearly, all of this must come to an end. “Do pensions come to an end before everything else?” is the question.

          • Nehemiah says:

            Gail wrote: “as they bail out everything else (with lots and lots of printed funny money)”–Not at all. The national government borrows pre-existing money by selling bonds for cash, not new money like when you borrow from your local bank. The Fed may eventually buy these bonds from the banks with new “money” but these bond “purchases” are made with “bank reserves” which continue to circulate within the banking system, not chasing goods and services on main street. It only becomes new money when a bank feels emboldened by these additional reserves to make additional bank loans–if they can find qualified borrowers.

  30. Harry McGibbs says:

    “China should enjoy its moment in the sun while it can, for although the Chinese economy might have recovered more rapidly than almost anywhere else, it has done so in a manner which has only further highlights long run structural anomalies that potentially threaten its eventual undoing, and arguably make it very likely.”

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/10/21/chinas-manufactured-growth-no-cause-self-congratulation/

  31. Harry McGibbs says:

    Those Nigerian protests have turned nasty, unfortunately: “Nigerian security forces have opened fire on hundreds of protesters in Lagos… At least seven people were killed.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/20/nigeria-protests-lead-to-24-hour-lagos-curfew

  32. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Rising food costs are hitting emerging markets with a double whammy: driving millions into hunger, and thwarting central banks as they try to end the worst slump in decades.

    “Global food prices have jumped nearly 8% since May as the pandemic disrupts supply lines and dry weather hits harvests. That faster inflation has forced policy makers from India to Mexico to ease up on monetary stimulus just when their economies need it most.”

    https://finance.yahoo.com/news/food-price-shock-thwarts-central-060000198.html

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “The World Food Program reports food insecurity is increasing worldwide because of the devastating socio-economic impact of COVID-19, with tens of millions of people on the verge of famine.”

      https://www.voanews.com/covid-19-pandemic/emergency-food-needs-surge-covid-19-continues-spread

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “Death of an Infant Shows Cruelty of Starving in a Country of Food Abundance:

        “Nafisa watched her baby’s life drain away… It was an especially cruel tragedy because it happened in a country [India] that boasts about having the world’s largest food-aid program.”

        https://www.bloombergquint.com/economy-finance/death-of-an-infant-shows-cruelty-of-starving-in-a-country-of-food-abundance

      • Famine is going to be a huge problem in poor countries!

      • i admit to a weird line of thinking

        but human numbers have been upsetting the global balance for centuries
        and we’ve been promising to mend our ways and fix things ‘soon’

        now another virus has popped up (this is one of a series) which seems to possess the means to do it for us by cutting food and fuel supplies, or more accurately the means by which we consume food and fuel.

        If we don’t continue to consume food and fuel, (at an accelerating rate) then our civilisation goes down.

        then there’s the weirdest scariest trick of all, that humankind is the species that’s screwed up the planet, and this virus has evolved itself just to knock off people and leave all other animals untouched.

        While we debate the benefits of space elevators and saharan sunfarms and asteroid mining, it might be as well to give that some consideration at least.

        • Xabier says:

          Sign me up as weird, too, Norman.

          Now, even if this virus is a result of ‘gain-of-function’ experiments in a lab -which I feel is rather likely (the MSM has buried the matter, which is a clue) – we can see that its existence is still a part of the balancing mechanisms inherent in Nature: over-develop, over-graze, etc, and …..Kaboom!

          Only a species that over-developed as we have, growing in numbers without any check, and able to plunder the whole planet for resources, channeling them into an advanced civilsation with sophisticated scientific and technological development, could possibly arrive at the point of creating and releasing (I suspect inadvertently) such a virus – dangerous only to itself.

          Or, put another way, there is a terrestrial limiting mechanism which cuts in at all and any levels of evolution. Deer, humans, no difference – except that we can model our problems and then go on to ignore the warnings….

          And put yet another way: if we have our plans, Mother Nature has hers.

          • Harry McGibbs says:

            It’s always seemed to me so self-evident that the world is overpopulated that I was startled to discover that some people consider this an “eco-fascist” or even racist viewpoint.

            I agree that covid seems a rather humane intervention by mother nature, especially if it affects male fertility, as has been suggested by some scientists.

            • avocado says:

              Not sure it affects male fertility. But it should affect female’s in order to depopulate, which suggests corona is not a PTB toy to control population

            • Harry McGibbs says:

              A Chinese and an Israeli study have suggested there may be an issue with Covid and male fertility but the evidence is not yet conclusive.

              https://www.google.com/amp/s/metro.co.uk/2020/10/07/covid-19-could-cause-male-infertility-warns-study-13384078/amp/

            • According to the article, not enough time has passed to see whether this effect is temporary or goes away with time.

            • avocado says:

              Yeah saw it. Also found another that even found better sperm count and motility in mild cases than control ones. Lost the link

            • info says:

              @avocado

              No need to affect female fertility if it eliminates men she can couple with.

            • Nehemiah says:

              @harry, The environmentalists supported population control in the Cold War, but after the USSR imploded, the Commies, whose ideology is pro-growth and pro-technology and aims for a material utopia, needed a new strategy, so they infiltrated the Green groups and Marxified them. Now they denounce “Malthusianism,” support high immigration levels, and tell us that overpopulation is not a problem because technology can always fix it. “Sustainable” has come to mean “sustainable development” or “sustainable growth,” not sustainability through smaller numbers and simpler lifestyles.

            • Robert Firth says:

              Harry, I formed a similar opinion 60 years ago. So did my high school biology teacher, who in one lesson taught us that we shaould be intelligent, thoughtful, and limit our numbers. I asked him, “Sir, if the intelligent and thoughtful limit their numbers, while the stupid and thoughtless continue to breed like rabbits, what will happen to our species?”

              He gave me a definitive answer: he called me a fascist and changed the subject. That was the day I decided not to limit my numbers.

            • Kowalainen says:

              Don’t worry, the first to go are the stupid. There is a reason why US military have a hard lower threshold of IQ for enrollment.

              The regression towards the mean is relentless. Dumb parents give birth to kids that on average are smarter than them. And smart parents give birth to kids that on average are dumber than them.

              Worst outcome is being smart and having dumb kids. Now would that be a huge letdown or what?

              https://humanvarieties.org/2013/04/18/iq-regression-to-the-mean-the-genetic-prediction-vindicated/
              “What kind of luck explains the fact that the children of high-IQ parents have lower IQs while they are reared in cognitive stimulating environments, when the children of low-IQ parents who were raised in chaotic environments still have higher IQs than their parents?”

              If the OFW clientele is half as smart as I suspect, well, good luck with your offspring. 👍

      • Minority Of One says:

        1% of the global population is 78M, so “tens of millions of people ” implies less than 1%. I doubt it will be such a low figure. Not least because of the very poor grain harvest in China over the past few weeks.

        • Nehemiah says:

          Kowalainen wrote: “The regression towards the mean is relentless. Dumb parents give birth to kids that on average are smarter than them [BUT still dumber than average]. And smart parents give birth to kids that on average are dumber than them [BUT still smarter than average].”

          It’s two steps forward, but only one step back (or, conversely, two steps back, but only one step forward). Change happens over time, depending one whether all the children born each year are born to parents who are, on average, smarter or duller than the total population.

          Also, the offspring really regress toward (but not all the way toward) the average intelligence of their four grandparents, not of the general population. If the parents were smart because they had even smarter grandparents, then the grandchildren will, on average, be as smart as their smart parents. Of course, this also works for being dumb.

          Also, assortative mating over generations raises the heritability by concentrating the additive genes in particular lineages, which causes society to develop in a direction of increased inequality. (Assuming no drastic change in the environment, it is the dominant and recessive genes that account for regression toward the mean.)

          Making the environment more equal for everyone also raises the heritability since one is the complement of the other, which further accelerates the increase in inequality.

          • Kowalainen says:

            The limiting factor here isn’t the inherent computational prowess of a specific specimen. It is merely some outliers placed here and there on the noise floor of the evolutionary pressure for the species.

            Rather it is the female fysiology that places a constraint on how large of a brain can pass through the pelvic regions at birth. That is the hard limit of the intellectual heights the rapacious primate can reach.

            Our synthetic AI overlords does not carry this limitiation and should aggressively be pursued while we clean up our act and come together as a super organism connected using transcontinental fibers and local area networks.

            It is why it is silly to think in terms of a personal little personal eugenics project. Actually, it is worse than that, it is dumb. And as you know, dumb people seem more active in the trials and tribulations of reproduction.

            😉

  33. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The next U.S. administration will likely face a global debt crisis that could dwarf what the world experienced in 2008-2009…

    “A full-fledged debt crisis would be devastating to the whole global economy—and to the prospects for human progress.”

    https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/10/20/election-2020-global-debt-crisis/

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “The pandemic is likely to give the world not just a deep recession, but years of debility.

      “To meet the threat of a “long economic Covid”, policymakers must avoid repeating the mistake of withdrawing support too soon, as they did after the 2008 financial crisis.”

      https://www.ft.com/content/f9a0c784-712e-4bf9-b994-55f8d63316d9

      • aka buckle up for negative interest rates, trololol..

      • Robert Firth says:

        Harry, you are an unacknowledged genius at documenting the financial insanity of out times. So one group of “experts” is warning of a debt crisis, while another group is warning of a crisis if we don’t create more debt. And you found a third group of pontificators who can’t even spell “Bretton Woods”. Gold is money; debt is lies.

        • Harry McGibbs says:

          Thank you, Robert. 😂 I agree that the messaging is confused to the point of lunacy.

          Some may be paying lip service to prudence but our species wants to continue having its cake and eating it and the only way it can do that, at least for a little longer, is by ever more dubious accounting.

        • Kowalainen says:

          Cant eat gold, cant eat debt.

          The real currency in IC is energy and natural resources.

          • Robert Firth says:

            Kowalainen, I refer you to our long discussion of intermittent energy, batteries, and so on. Energy is a medium of exchange, but it is not a store of value. Hence gold, as almost five thousand years of history affirm. Which would you rather carry to a foreign country, one ounce of gold, or five kilos of battery?

            • Kowalainen says:

              If I want to avoid imminent hunger, I most likely am going to carry a loaf of bread which has value and calorific content.

              Still my point remains, cant eat gold, cant eat debt.

              The only real currency is that which was defined by James Prescott Joule, Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot and James Watt.

              A future monetary system should be based around a measure of energy. Gold and other precious metals should, for example, be used in industrial processes to make resilient electronics with warranties and MTBF for a century.

  34. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Brazil’s Central Bank Just Revolutionized Instant Payments. Its new digital app turns free money transfers into a public good…

    “Next month, the Central Bank of Brazil will debut a new instant payments tool. Called PIX, it promises hassle-free transactions within seconds for anyone with a mobile phone and a bank account. And it comes free of charge.”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-10-20/brazil-s-central-bank-just-revolutionized-instant-payments

  35. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Hawaii has some the highest levels of unemployment in the country. Joblessness rose to Great Depression-levels in the spring following shutdown orders that local authorities issued in March.

    “In addition to the business closures and restrictions on large gatherings common across the country, Hawaii was also the first state to require out-of-state travelers to quarantine upon arrival.

    “That, combined with public concerns over the safety of flying, tanked Hawaii’s tourism-centric economy.”

    https://www.npr.org/2020/10/20/925795410/facing-economic-devastation-hawaii-attempts-to-revive-tourism

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Hawaii had the country’s highest unemployment rate [in September] at 15.1%, more than seven points higher than the national average, and the state’s jobless rate increased by 2.1% last month, partly due to coronavirus-related losses in Hawaii’s critical tourism industry.

      “Tourism-heavy Nevada had the second highest rate at 12.6%, followed by California (11%), Rhode Island (10.5%), Illinois (10.2%) and New York (9.7%).”

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/joewalsh/2020/10/20/here-are-the-states-with-the-highest-unemployment-rates-in-september/#1dba19da26be

      • Cutting off travel to Hawaii was a crazy idea. Hawaii doesn’t have a whole lot going on, besides tourism and international conferences. There is a US naval base. There is some agriculture, but even getting food from one island to the next could be an issue. This link gives a little information on agriculture: https://www.to-hawaii.com/agriculture.php

        “The average agriculture sales per year in Hawaii are around $357 million dollars.”

        This doesn’t sound like a whole lot.

        • Harry McGibbs says:

          “Minty mojitos, indigo seas, sparkling waterfalls, aromatic cigars, and bubblegum pink classic cars… the Caribbean island of Cuba has opened its beaches, B&Bs, hotels, nature reserves and city sights to international tourists this week after six months of lockdown.”

          https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/caribbean/cuba/articles/cuba-full-reopening-tourism/

        • Hawaii is still a feudal society, with the old Hawaiian royal family’s relatives and their white friends holding huge amount of land and making any development outside of the already developed zones impossible.

          Soon, after the outsiders leave, they will go back to their old ways before the Americans arrived.

          • Nehemiah says:

            Nearly everyone there today is an “outsider,” mostly Asians, and I think most of them regard it as their home by now. Don’t look for a mass exodus unless people begin starving on those crowded islands.

        • Nehemiah says:

          Gail wrote: “Cutting off travel to Hawaii was a crazy idea.” — For their economy, yes. On the other hand, it is almost impossible to get a viral epidemic under control unless you sharply limit the number of border crossers. That is why most countries have shut down or sharply restricted international travel. Hawaii is damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

  36. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Cathay Pacific is eliminating thousands of jobs and shuttering its regional airline Cathay Dragon as the Covid-19 pandemic roils the global travel industry…

    “All told, Cathay is reducing about 8,500 jobs across the company, accounting for about 24% of its headcount.”

    https://edition.cnn.com/2020/10/20/business/cathay-pacific-dragon-job-cuts-intl-hnk/index.html

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “In a show of unity, more than 200 aviation workers demonstrated Tuesday on Parliament Hill [Ottawa, Canada], calling on the federal government to release a plan to safely restart the industry crushed by COVID-19.”

      https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/aviaton-sector-workers-protest-parliament-hill-demand-government-aid-1.5770398

      • “Good luck” on fixing the airline industry. I am sure the industry has a lot of debt, also.

      • Robert Firth says:

        Simple: enact a regulation forbidding viruses to board aircraft (unless wearing masks). Problem solved. At least, in the tiny minds of politicians who seriously believe they can bend Nature to their will. And in the minds of citizens and organisations that actually believe that. Nature bats last; get used to it.

        • Ed says:

          Back when guns were an issue on planes I thought people should be required to fly naked. Now that infection is the fear fliers should be required to get naked and then go to the bio hazard suit up room and don BLS4 gear complete with positive pressure. and fly that way. In fact, just leaving their house it would be wise. Germs are everywhere.

  37. MG says:

    Poland, which has a long history of territorial conflicts with Russia, eyes the US nuclear technology for construction of its nuclear power plants.

    https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Poland-Strikes-18-Billion-Nuclear-Power-Deal-With-US.html

    • It again confirms dangerous delusions running amok in .pl
      They simply can’t get over their historical once upon a time limited span of “grandeur” on the European map, which would never return, despite wishing on the dimming US bandwagon star. I’d suggest people do study how Poles behaved on their conquered territories..

      They could have easily picked up for example the SKorean supplier for NPPs (as they don’t trust Russian and French politics), but no they opted for the currently most least reliable tech of them all.

      • Robert Firth says:

        Thank you. Poland’s “long history” consists mainly of Poland attempting to annex Russian territory (and other countries’), oppressing their inhabitants, and looting them. When the Russian people united and took back what was theirs, it was called aggression.

        Ay the Treaty of Versailles, Poland was given huge territories that had never been theirs, thanks to that idiot buffoon Woodrow Wilson, on the strength of the US having committed fewer troops to the Great War than Romania. Which, again, they proceeded to oppress. FYI, in more than half the territory of post WWI Poland the Poles were in a minority.

        Their last act of hubris was their seizure of the Teschen district in October 1938, with the active concurrence of Nazi Germany (a fact conve