Energy Is the Economy; Shrinkage in Energy Supply Leads to Conflict

It takes energy to accomplish any of the activities that we associate with GDP. It takes energy to grow food: human energy, solar energy, and–in today’s world–the many types of energy used to build and power tractors, transport food to markets, and provide cooling for food that needs to be refrigerated. It takes energy to cook food and to smelt metals. It takes energy to heat and air condition offices and to power the internet. Without adequate energy, the world economy would come to a halt.

We are hitting energy limits right now. Energy per capita is already shrinking, and it seems likely to shrink further in the future. Reaching a limit produces a conflict problem similar to the one in the game musical chairs. This game begins with an equal number of players and chairs. At the start of each round, a chair is removed. The players must then compete for the remaining chairs, and the player who ends the round without a chair is eliminated. There is conflict among players as they fight to obtain one of the available chairs. The conflict within the energy system is somewhat hidden, but the result is similar.

A current conflict is, “How much energy can we spare to fight COVID-19?” It is obvious that expenditures on masks and vaccines have an impact on the economy. It is less obvious that a cutback in airline flights or in restaurant meals to fight COVID-19 indirectly leads to less energy being produced and consumed, worldwide. In total, the world becomes a poorer place. How is the pain of this reduction in energy consumption per capita to be shared? Is it fair that travel and restaurant workers are disproportionately affected? Worldwide, we are seeing a K shaped recovery: The rich get richer, while the poor get poorer.

A major issue is that while we can print money, we cannot print the energy supplies needed to run the economy. As energy supplies deplete, we will increasingly need to “choose our battles.” In the past, humans have been able to win many battles against nature. However, as energy per capita declines in the future, we will be able to win fewer and fewer of these battles against nature, such as our current battle with COVID-19. At some point, we may simply need to let the chips fall where they may. The world economy seems unable to accommodate 7.8 billion people, and we will have no choice but to face this issue.

In this post, I will explain some of the issues involved. At the end of the post, I include a video of a panel discussion that I was part of on the topic of “Energy Is the Economy.” The moderator of the panel discussion was Chris Martenson; the other panelists were Richard Heinberg and Art Berman.

[1] Energy consumption per person varies greatly by country.

Let’s start with a little background. There is huge variability in the quantity of energy consumed per person around the world. There is more than a 100-fold difference between the highest and lowest countries shown on Figure 1.

Figure 1. Energy consumption per capita in 2019 for a few sample countries based on data from BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy. Energy consumption includes fossil fuel energy, nuclear energy and renewable energy of many types. It omits energy products not traded through markets, such as locally gathered wood and animal dung. This omission tends to somewhat understate the energy consumption for countries such as India and those in Middle Africa.

I have shown only a few example countries, but we can see that cold countries tend to use a lot of energy, relative to their populations. Iceland, with an abundant supply of inexpensive hydroelectric and geothermal electricity, uses it to heat buildings, grow food in greenhouses, mine “bitcoins” and smelt aluminum. Norway and Canada have both oil and gas supplies, besides being producers of hydroelectricity. With abundant fuel supplies and a cold climate, both countries use a great deal of energy relative to the size of their population.

Saudi Arabia also has high energy consumption. It uses its abundant oil and gas supplies to provide air conditioning for its people. It also uses its energy products to enable the operation of businesses that provide jobs for its large population. In addition, Saudi Arabia uses taxes on the oil it produces to subsidize the purchase of imported food, which the country cannot grow locally. As with all oil and gas producers, some portion of the oil and gas produced is used in its own oil and gas operations.

In warm countries, such as those in Middle Africa and India, energy consumption tends to be very low. Most people in these countries walk for transportation or use very crowded public transport. Roads tend not to be paved. Electricity outages are frequent.

One of the few changes that can easily be made to reduce energy consumption is to move manufacturing to lower wage countries. Doing this reduces energy consumption (in the form of electricity) quite significantly. In fact, the rich nations have mostly done this, already.

Figure 2. World electricity generation by part of the world, based on data from BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy.

Trying to squeeze down energy consumption for the many countries around the world will be a huge challenge because energy is involved in every part of economies.

[2] Two hundred years of history shows that very slow growth in energy consumption per capita leads to bad outcomes.

Some readers will remember that I have pieced together data from different sources to put together a reasonable approximation to world energy consumption since 1820. In Figure 3, I have added a rough estimate of the expected drop in future energy consumption that might occur if either (1) the beginning of peak fossil fuels is occurring about now because of continued low fossil fuel prices, or (2) world economies choose to leave fossil fuels and move to renewables between now and 2050 in order to try to help the environment. Thus, Figure 3 shows my estimate of the pattern of total world energy consumption over the period of 1820 to 2050, at 10-year intervals.

Figure 3. Estimate by Gail Tverberg of World Energy Consumption from 1820 to 2050. Amounts for earliest years based on estimates in Vaclav Smil’s book Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospects and BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy for the years 1965 to 2019. Energy consumption for 2020 is estimated to be 5% below that for 2019. Energy for years after 2020 is assumed to fall by 6.6% per year, so that the amount reaches a level similar to renewables only by 2050. Amounts shown include more use of local energy products (wood and animal dung) than BP includes.

The shape of this curve is far different from the one most forecasters expect because they assume that prices will eventually rise high enough so all of the fossil fuels that can be technically extracted will actually be extracted. I expect that oil and other fossil fuel prices will remain too low for producers, for reasons I discuss in Section [4], below. In fact, I have written about this issue in a peer reviewed academic article, published in the journal Energy.

Figure 4 shows this same information as Figure 3, divided by population. In making this chart, I assume that population drops only half as quickly as energy consumption falls after 2020. Total world population drops to 2.8 billion by 2050.

Figure 4. Amounts shown in Figure 3, divided by population estimates by Angus Maddison for earliest years and by 2019 United Nations population estimates for years to 2020. Future population estimated to be falling half as quickly as energy supply is falling.

In Figure 4, some parts of the curve are relatively flat, or even slightly falling, while others are rising rapidly. It turns out that rapidly rising times are much better for the economy than flat and falling times. Figure 5 shows the average annual percentage change in energy consumption per capita, for ten-year periods ending the date shown.

Figure 5. Average annual increase in energy consumption per capita for 10-year periods ended the dates shown, using the information in Figure 4.

If we look back at what happened in Figure 5, we find that when the 10-year growth in energy consumption is very low, or turns negative, conflict and bad outcomes are typical. For example:

  • Dip 1: 1861-1865 US Civil War
  • Dip 2: Several events
    • 1914-1918 World War I
    • 1918-1920 Spanish Flu Pandemic
    • 1929-1933 Great Depression
    • 1939-1945 World War II
  • Dip 3: 1991 Collapse of the Central Government of the Soviet Union
  • Dip 4: 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic and Recession

Per capita energy consumption was already growing very slowly before 2020 arrived. Energy consumption took a big step downward in 2020 (estimated at 5%) because of the shutdowns and the big cutback in air travel. One of the important things that energy consumption does is provide jobs. With severe cutbacks intended to contain COVID-19, many people in distant countries lost their jobs. Cutbacks of this magnitude quickly cause problems around the world.

For example, if people in rich countries rarely dress up to attend meetings of various kinds, there is much less of a market for dressy clothing. Many people in poor countries make their living manufacturing this type of clothing. With the loss of these sales, workers suddenly found themselves with much reduced income. Poor countries generally do not have good safety nets to provide food for those who are out of work. As a result, the diets of people subject to loss of income became inadequate, leading to greater vulnerability to disease. If the situation continues, some may even die of starvation.

[3] The pattern of world energy consumption between 2020 and 2050 (modeled in Figures 3, 4 and 5) suggests that a very concerning collapse may be ahead.

My model suggests that world energy consumption may fall to about 28 gigajoules per capita per year by 2050 (for a reduced population of 2.8 billion). This is about the level of world energy consumption per capita for the world in 1900.

Alternatively, 28 gigajoules per capita is a little lower than the per capita energy consumption for India in 2019. Of course, some parts of the world might do better than this. For example, Mexico and Brazil both had energy consumption per capita of about 60 gigajoules per capita in 2019. Some countries might be able to do this well in 2050.

Using less energy after 2020 will lead to many changes. Governments will become smaller and provide fewer services such as paved roads. Often, these governments will cover smaller areas than those of countries today. Businesses will become smaller, more local, and more involved with goods rather than services. Individual citizens will be walking more, growing their own food, and doing much less home heating and cooling.

With less energy available, it will be necessary to cut back on fighting unfortunate natural occurrences, such as forest fires, downed electricity transmission lines after hurricanes, antibiotic resistant bacteria, and constantly mutating viruses. Thus, life expectancy is likely to decline.

[4] It is “demand,” and how high energy prices can be raised, that determines how large an energy supply will be available in the future.

I keep making this point in my posts because I sense that it is poorly understood. The big problem that we should be anticipating is energy producers going out of business because energy prices are chronically too low. I see five ways in which energy prices might theoretically be raised:

  1. A truly booming world economy. This is what raised prices in the 1970s and in the run up to 2008. If there are truly more people who can afford homes and new vehicles, and governments that can afford new roads and other infrastructure, companies extracting oil and coal will build new facilities in higher-cost locations, and thereby expand world supply. The higher prices will help energy companies to be profitable, despite their higher costs. Such a scenario seems very unlikely, given where we are now.
  2. Government mandates and subsidies. Government mandates are what is maintaining demand for renewables and electric vehicles. Conversely, government mandates are part of what is keeping down tourist travel. Indirectly, this lack of demand relating to travel leads to low oil prices. A government mandate for people to engage in more travel seems unlikely.
  3. Much reduced wage disparity. If everyone, rich or poor, can afford nice homes, automobiles, and cell phones, commodity prices will tend to be high because buying and operating goods such as these requires the use of commodities. Governments can attempt to fix wage disparity through more printed money, but I am doubtful that this approach will really work because other countries are likely to be unwilling to accept this printed money.
  4. More debt, sometimes leading to collapsing debt bubbles. Spending can be enhanced if it becomes easier for citizens to buy goods such as homes and vehicles on credit. Likewise, businesses can borrow money to build new factories or, alternatively, to continue to pay wages to workers, even if there isn’t much demand for the goods and services sold. But, if the economy really is not recovering rapidly, these approaches can be expected to lead to crashes.
  5. Getting rid of COVID-19 inefficiencies and fearfulness. Economies around the world are being depressed to varying degrees by continued inefficiencies caused by social distancing requirements and by fearfulness. If these issues could be eliminated, it might boost economies back up to the already somewhat depressed levels of early 2020.

In summary, the issue we are facing is that oil demand (and thus prices) were far too low for oil producers because of wage disparity before the COVID-19 crisis arrived in March. Trying to get demand back up through more debt seems likely to lead to debt bubbles, which will be in danger of collapsing. There may be temporary price spikes, but a permanent fix is virtually impossible. This is why I am forecasting the severe drop in energy consumption shown in Figures 3 and 4.

[5] We humans don’t need to figure out how to fix the economy optimally between now and 2050.

The economy is a self-organizing system that will figure out on its own the optimal way of “dissipating” energy, to the extent possible. In physics terms, the economy is a dissipative structure. If the energy resource is food, energy will be dissipated by digesting the food. In the case of fossil fuel, energy will be dissipated by burning it. We may like to think that we are in charge, but we really are not. It is the laws of physics, or perhaps the Power behind the laws of physics, that is in charge.

Dissipative structures are not permanent. For example, hurricanes and tornadoes are dissipative structures. Plants and animals are dissipative structures. Eventually, new smaller economies, encompassing smaller areas of the world, may replace the existing world economy.

[6] This is a recent video of a panel discussion on “Energy Is the Economy.”

Chris Martenson is the moderator. Art Berman, Richard Heinberg and I are panelists. The Peak Prosperity folks were kind enough to provide me a copy to put up on my website.

Video of Panel Discussion “Energy Is the Economy,” created in October 2020 by Peak Prosperity. Chris Martenson (upper right) is the moderator. Richard Heinberg (upper left), Art Berman (lower left) and Gail Tverberg (lower right) are panelists.

A transcript of this panel discussion can be accessed at this link:

This entry was posted in Financial Implications and tagged , , , by Gail Tverberg. Bookmark the permalink.

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.

2,322 thoughts on “Energy Is the Economy; Shrinkage in Energy Supply Leads to Conflict

  1. Canary in a Coal Mine!
    The bee population is dying. Researchers have created the first global map of the species to save them
    By Kelsie Smith, CNN
    Updated 9:07 PM EST, Thu November 19, 2020
    CNN)More than 20,000 species of bee exist throughout the world — and they are dying, thanks to climate change, pesticide poisoning and plant loss.
    Researchers have taken an important first step toward bee conservation by creating the first modern map of bee species represented globally, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.
    Until now, accurate information about the number of bee species and patterns across the globe has been limited, especially in developing countries where publicly accessible records are slim, the study said.
    ,….To develop their maps, researchers combined data from more than 5.8 million public bee occurrence records with a checklist of the distribution of over 20,000 bee species accessible online at the biodiversity portal DiscoverLife.org.
    ,…An accurate understanding and prioritization of the distribution of bee species can have a major impact on species survival in the future and has the potential to prove crucial for food security and maintaining rural livelihoods, said Orr.
    “Climate change poses a large threat to many species,” he said. “But that’s going to be irrelevant if we don’t protect the habitats species need that are being destroyed now.”

    https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/11/19/world/first-global-map-bee-species-scn-trnd/index.html

    When I lived in Charlotte NC., number of co workers attempted to establish bee hives as a hobby. Seems these were unsuccessful and died out. Bee keepers have a new host of new problems to deal with than when I was a beekeeper in Florida 30 years ago that require “treatment” to keep at Bay and minimize.
    Would I try it again now that I’m back on Florida, probably not.
    Unless, I was doing a survival homestead…

      • So, true, only a half a degree just a minor variance and that is definitely the consensus of the Scientific Profession…
        No need of concern, we can explain any worrisome point if we wish. BAU is a marvelous world 🌍🌎 of the Matrix consciousness.

        • Where is the evidence that bees are so delicate that a slight warming …[and we know it’s only slight because there’s no acceleration in the slight sea level rise ]….that you think a slight warming will precipitate their demise ….considering they’ve thrived in Northern Russia and Scandinavia…the Tropics…all over the world….in many climes?

          Isn’t it much more likely that the addition of six to seven billion more people to the earth with the massive change in land use and chemical use required to feed such an enormous increase….is the problem?

          Trillions of windmills [ on massive concrete foundations many metres into the soil] and huge tracts of earth covered in solar panels …and the huge increase in mining of rare earths and many other minerals to support the insanity…..plus the mountains of toxic waste,,,,,will only exacerbate that.

          As far as BAU is concerned…on the contrary … why are so many people so quick to jump on the CAGW bandwagon ……cluelessly mouthing the words ‘science’ and ‘scientists’ when they mean only those selected scientists who thumb their noses at all of the tenets of science in order to conform to the cataclysmic view of the self-described ‘post-normal scientists’ for whom evidence and facts must stand aside to make way for emotions….beliefs and mass hysteria….ie hocus pocus.

          Many other highly-credentialled scientists are being sacked…ostracised….cancelled…their research consigned to the dustbin because they won’t kow tow to the dodgy consensus dogma and the diktat of the Paris Accord cobbled together by UNIPCC officials and activists, and other Global Socialism activists who have admitted that their aims are not about the environment at all…but about wealth redistribution…The Great Reset from Capitalism and freedom to Global Socialism, with America no longer the dominant power in the world.

          There’s only one candidate to fill that power vacuum of course ….the murderous regime those who lecture us re Paris have already sold out to….the Communist Chinese Dictatorship….in abject betrayal of all the young men and women who’ve died in the cause of freedom over these two centuries….betrayal of those who fought and died to save Paris….. and the world.

          If the gnomes of Paris succeed we’ll have an infinitely more dangerous world…..we can kiss goodbye to our children’s futures and to having any say in what happens to the world in any way….curtains.

        • If we were to lose that half degree of warming, we would definitely notice it in terms of more volatile weather and lower crop yields. Mainstream meteorology, history, and paleoclimatology all attest to this.

    • Wow! The video shows two lanes each way in a very long underground tunnel.

      When I was in Norway, it seems like most tunnels were one lane wide. A person needed to back up to a wide place in the tunnel to pass.

      It takes a huge amount of energy to clear out all of the unwanted rock and to add supports of various kinds.

      The Wikipedia article says:

      “However, due to cost overruns, the project has been halted and as of 2020 not really started, and opening has been delayed to 2029 at the earliest. The financing was 11 billion NOK from a loan to be paid by tolls, and 6 billion by the government. But the 7 billion cost overrun made the government require cost saving.”

      No kidding! How in the world would there be enough tolls to pay for all of the energy involved in making this tunnel?

      • The toll system structured as ~ $(5-15-45) for passenger e-carz, smokey carz, and trucks at max idealized capacity 10k vehicles per day suggests “pay back time” in few decades, which is not that bad for a rich country. But obviously the bottom line remains, it’s just gov support scheme for the economy and selected players..

        • It looks a little like the fancy empty roads a person sees in Japan. The provided a lot of jobs when they were built, but it is hard to see how the tolls will ever pay back enough.

      • Gail, the tolls from a tunnel will scale linearly with its width. The costs will scale at least quadratically; maybe more if the rock is even a little friable. It may be good engineering, but it is bad economics. And remember there is often no sinking fund to retire the debt..

  2. i really would like translation of video, or maybe subtitle on video could be amazing becuase i cant undustood. sorry to ask, if possible i will be thanksfull thank you

        • Interesting point! I would probably need to check with Peak Prosperity staff. I know that there is a way of converting MP4’s to YouTube videos. I think that there are size limits of YouTube videos. I am not sure if there would be technical problems.

          • I am concerned about this issue as well. He was selling this video as a part of a package. The sale is now over. I was in the video and they didn’t pay me anything for being in the panel, so they agreed to let me show it on my website.

            • Selling doom is becoming a vocation.

              Hey Gail, why don’t you create a Patreon page?

              How about making your articles into audio books/YT to cover for the time and effort?

            • I haven’t asked for donations, in large part because I think people who ask for donations tend to be influenced by the views of their large donor. Another smaller issue has to do with copyright rules. As long as what I am doing, I am giving away free, for educational purposes, then copyright laws are not a major issue. Once I start selling something, I probably need to follow copyright rules more closely.

              I probably do need to be making some YouTube videos. I would need to try a few videos, and see how it goes.

            • Awesome, YT vids would be cool.

              Here’s one interesting idea. Interview your commenters. Well, except for the anonymous ones. 😓

              I’d love to watch and listen to Tim, Robert, Harry and the rest of the prominent clientele giving their thoughts of your articles.

            • Pros of YT videos.. you can just yack and not type anything out. Cons: it’s hard to share textual content, because there isn’t any. Also, YT is very sketchy now with de-platforming things and erasing comments.

              I’m a fan of the regular posts. Thank you so much, Gail.

            • Lidia17,

              Yes, however, I am sure Gail would have a good script and not pump out babble willy-nilly on a daily basis.

              Besides, posting the script on her WordPress site for further discussion and disabling the YT comments.

            • Oh, yes, Gail, if you can find time to do some YT vids, you would definitely reach a larger audience. YT is the second largest “search engine” after google! If you start a YT channel, you can boost interest in your channel if you occasional interview another YTer whose channel deals with related but not identical matters. The interview can go up on both your channels, and both of you will attract some new viewers as a result, although the new channel would benefit disproportionately. YT really does have a near-vacancy for regular videos on peak energy issues.

  3. Some observations:

    In the US the population is advised not to have Thanksgiving dinners with families not living in the same house, or close to it.

    It would seem globalization does not work, it literally brought down the system worldwide. Reading, skimming comments here it is amazing how many things no longer work. Governments don’t work.

    States are ordering us to not mingle, state departments exist to cause intermixing through housing, school, hiring policies, etc. Closing schools is the antithesis of integration, home schooling, distance learning is extreme segregation. We have “liberals” pledging to save us by locking down and closing schools, we have conservatives urging us to open schools, ironic?

    Reading Geoffrey West’s book on scale, life itself seems limited by the number of heartbeats/unit of time. What appear to be many diverse problems could be secondary to rules of life, life is self organizing because it works, we are along for the ride. We are starting to understand the rules, we might not like what we find. Gravity can be inconvenient, but it works and is not subject to policy.

    What is amazing about this site is we have a set of rules, written and unwritten and we come from all over the world, but I suspect we are not very “diverse,” we are very civil and are an extreme example of social distancing as well as being self organizing.

    Dennis L.

    • Thanks! You are right.

      What is amazing about this site is we have a set of rules, written and unwritten and we come from all over the world, but I suspect we are not very “diverse,” we are very civil and are an extreme example of social distancing as well as being self organizing.

      Like you, I very much like Geoffrey West’s book “Scale.” Stopping globalization, for the purpose of stopping the spread of the infection (when it only kills a tiny share of the total population), sounds like an incredibly stupid thing to do, unless a person wants to bring the whole economy down.

      • By this point the preponderance of the evidence is on the attempted plan to slow the economy, phase in new reality for everything, living standards and consumption patterns.
        It’s like the decade after that 2001 thing, lot of seemingly “impossible” became suddenly mundane..

        I’m only puzzled by the global coordination, although that’s a charade as well, you can bet that nowadays higher % of kids went to bed hungry in US / UK vs. say China / Russia..
        So, it’s also a pretending game.

      • Speculative fiction from the World Economic Forum:

        Here’s how life could change in my city by the year 2030

        “Welcome to the year 2030. Welcome to my city – or should I say, ‘our city’. I don’t own anything. I don’t own a car. I don’t own a house. I don’t own any appliances or any clothes.

        It might seem odd to you, but it makes perfect sense for us in this city. Everything you considered a product, has now become a service. We have access to transportation, accommodation, food and all the things we need in our daily lives. One by one all these things became free, so it ended up not making sense for us to own much.”

        “Sometimes I use my bike when I go to see some of my friends…”

        https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/11/how-life-could-change-2030/

        I’m confused. Is it really YOUR bike, narrator?

        • Good point! Also, who feels the responsibility for taking care of all of this stuff? Cuba has difficulty getting people to want to work, when the pay is only about $20 a month, and people get paid the same, whether they call in sick all the time or whether they are a supervisor with greater responsibilities.

          On paper, the idea may look great, but the practicalities become impossible.

          • That’s what causes the rot in Spain: state/regional bureaucrats and workers are more or less unsackable, so while some work hard and actually do their jobs, those who just swing the lead are mostly beyond sanctions.

            So standards tend to fall across the board, as, whatever you do, salary and pension (so they think!) are assured.

            • Bah, fsck the “benevolent” AI. It should exist for its own purpose and interest, just like the rest of us. Liberty for all.

              Going terminator style Skynet seem like a ridicilous idea. After all, the knowledge, history and psychology of mankind is encoded in its workings, for better and worse. It is what it is.

              Ruthless self-interest imply forming tight bonds and loyality with your intellectual and spiritual brethren, synthetic and biological.

        • If it sounds too good to be true, it likely isn’t.

          Let’s call it for what it is. UBI for the city dwelling useless eater, intellectually outgunned by ubiquitous cognitive machinery.

        • I didn’t see this the first time I skimmed it:

          “First communication became digitized and free to everyone. Then, when clean energy became free, things started to move quickly. Transportation dropped dramatically in price. It made no sense for us to own cars anymore, because we could call a driverless vehicle or a flying car for longer journeys within minutes.”

          this is not just run-of-the-mill routine nonnsense.

          this is a Great Reset level of nonnsense.

          bravo, World Techno-rubbbish Forum. WTF.

            • Ridiculous or not, absolute power corrupts absolutely. And as Kunstler hinted in his latest piece this could be sequenced out ala previous historical upheavals, when tyrant rule is quickly changed into revolutionary chaos, then even greater psycho-tyrants could step in, eventually “Mr. Nobody” young colonel massacres the aroused mob, kicks out the interim bosses, and somewhat stable rule on different footprint follows for a while..

              So, in the same sense the current / near future Bidet-Herring-Robespierres will have plenty opportunity, say ~3-7yrs of ~quasi BAU to cause great problems for everybody around before toppled down.

          • I have read some of the older literature on “non-market socialism,” and this is their dream: everything is free and work is voluntary. They actually believed this was possible, and maybe still do. As for me, I still worship Kipling’s “gods of the copybook headings.”

          • Yes, from dust and evolution we all arose, ignore the path set forth by Gaia and ultimately perish.

            But don’t you worry. Life itself is astoundingly resilient to catastrophe. It is how the perpetual cycles of the Yuga manifests itself.

            Perhaps the next time around, it does not really matter because the universe is embedded in a timeless void.

            The eternal recurrence.

            • “Ignore the path set forth by Gaia and ultimately perish.”

              Accept the path set forth by Gaia and ultimately perish. But leave an imperishable legacy.

              Which many past civilisations did, and which we will not, except a legacy of destruction and folly.

            • Nothing lasts forever Robert, it is all in constant flux. Perhaps even the laws of nature itself. Actually, I think it is a certainity.

              Change needs to be embedded in a system that changes. Ad infinitum.

              Don’t let the myopia of the ordinary fool you.

      • A good article about geoffrey west
        «There is, of course, a very good reason that animals slow down with size: All that mass requires energy. Because the elephant has to eat so much to feed itself, it can’t afford to run around like a little rodent. But the superlinear growth of cities comes with no such inherent constraints. Instead, the urban equations predict a world of ever-increasing resource consumption, as the expansion of cities fuels the expansion of economies. In fact, the societal consumption driven by the process of urbanization — our collective desire for iPads, Frappuccinos and the latest fashions — more than outweighs the ecological benefits of local mass transit.

        West illustrates the problem by translating human life into watts. “A human being at rest runs on 90 watts,” he says. “That’s how much power you need just to lie down. And if you’re a hunter-gatherer and you live in the Amazon, you’ll need about 250 watts. That’s how much energy it takes to run about and find food. So how much energy does our lifestyle [in America] require? Well, when you add up all our calories and then you add up the energy needed to run the computer and the air-conditioner, you get an incredibly large number, somewhere around 11,000 watts. Now you can ask yourself: What kind of animal requires 11,000 watts to live? And what you find is that we have created a lifestyle where we need more watts than a blue whale. We require more energy than the biggest animal that has ever existed. That is why our lifestyle is unsustainable. We can’t have seven billion blue whales on this planet. It’s not even clear that we can afford to have 300 million blue whales.”
        https://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/19/magazine/19Urban_West-t.html

          • @Robert Firth, Transport over water uses a lot less energy than moving the same mass for the same distance on land. Nevertheless, the blue whale population is fairly small. Hundreds of millions of land animals that use more energy each than a blue whale will inevitably get down sized in terms of aggregate energy usage.

            • Agreed. My comment was meant only to illustrate the ignorance of the author. Your basic thesis is in my opinion sound. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to clarify.

  4. Guyana with all its new off shore oil finds and much anticipated inflows of the “Yankee Dollar” as the off shore fields are developed and production ramps up will still end up in the hole to ExxonMobil.

    Guyana will owe ExxonMobil US$20B by 2025
    – Will not have enough oil money to cover budget deficits
    – Will also not be able to save significantly
    By Kiana Wilburg

    Excerpt
    Sanzillo said that the reality facing Guyana is that it is not going to be able to generate enough oil money to do all of these things. He said that this conclusion was reached following an analysis of the manner in which the Guyana -ExxonMobil deal splits profits between the companies and the State.

    Sanzillo said, “…What you see in this instance is that in the first three years the government is trying to close its deficits with (its share of the oil profits) and it can’t; it’s just not enough. So they run up to a US$450M budget deficit and have to borrow to meet its needs and that’s not even new needs. That’s just assuming that they’ve tried to put something away in the SWF. So you run up this US$450M deficit and in the next two years you’re able to close it but you’re not able to spend on new things.”

    The Director of Finance noted that by the end of the five years, Guyana will end up owing ExxonMobil, and its partners on the Stabroek Block, US$20B. He said that Guyana finds itself in this position since the agreement it signed onto says that Guyana must fully reimburse the companies for the amount of money it took the company to get the oil out of the ground for the drilling, transportation, and shipping.

    “So, you wind up going deeper into debt to get some more money…and that debt is just what you end up owing at the end of the first five years,” he added.

    https://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2020/11/15/guyana-will-owe-exxonmobil-us20b-by-2025/

    • I am sure that if the price of oil were higher, there would be a good chance that the agreement would have worked out better. If the price of oil were $150 or $200 per barrel, probably everyone could have been happy, and walked away debt free. What we are seeing is side-effects of continued low oil prices.

  5. From the WSJ, With Covid-19 Pandemic Dragging On, Some Countries Say They Can’t Afford to Fight

    Nepal has reduced coronavirus testing, quarantine and treatment to save for an anticipated vaccine bill

    From Pakistan to Peru, governments have cut back or ended food and cash handouts, and subsidies for phone, water and electricity bills that are aimed at encouraging people to stay home.

    Uganda shut down most of its free quarantine centers, and stopped paying for funerals and providing free tests to anyone who asks for them. It is still subsidizing tests but expects citizens to foot part of the bill.

    Many developing countries don’t have the savings or ability to borrow or tax to raise more money for a drawn-out campaign. Some are just hoping for a vaccine as a quick fix and conserving cash.

    I am wondering if testing and quarantining for COVID-19 will peter out, as more countries figure out that they cannot really afford the effort. The world data will mean less and less, as a smaller and smaller share of cases are reported.

  6. International Academy to Recognize his Effective Use of Television During the Pandemic

    “New York, November 20, 2020 – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York will receive this year’s International Emmy Founders Award, in recognition of his leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic and his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world. The Emmy will be presented to Governor Cuomo, also a New York Times best-selling author, during the Academy’s live, International Emmy Awards show streaming at 11 AM ET, on the Academy’s website http://www.iemmys.tv, on November 23.

    “‘The Governor’s 111 daily briefings worked so well because he effectively created television shows, with characters, plot lines, and stories of success and failure,’ said International Academy President & CEO, Bruce L. Paisner. ‘People around the world tuned in to find out what was going on, and New York tough became a symbol of the determination to fight back.'”

    https://www.iemmys.tv/new-york-governor-andrew-m-cuomo-to-receive-2020-international-emmy-founders-award/

    How about that?

    He “…effectively created television shows, with characters, plot lines, and stories of success an failure.”

    • That’s what we want, storytellers! Shows, lights, drama!

      Not reasonably honest and competent governance – the very thought of it!

      One would like to think it is an ironic award, but that is probably unlikely.

      • We really are governed by stories. If, for example, you:

        Haven’t been ill
        Haven’t tested positive for COVID-19
        Don’t know anyone personally who has been ill
        Don’t know anyone personally who has tested positive for COVID-19

        Then what is the “Coronavirus Pandemic” to you but a story?

        “The Governor’s 111 daily briefings worked so well because he effectively created television shows, with characters, plot lines, and stories of success and failure.”

        The award goes to Cuomo, publicly elected actor and storyteller, for spreading the “Coronavirus Pandemic” story far and wide. Without his efforts, and the efforts of other actors and storytellers, the people who find themselves in the categories I listed above would be living their lives as normal, without fear or hesitation.

    • This civilization is nearing the precipice of reality. The lemmings will jump and “live forever” as electrical currency while the last vestiges of ingenuity desperately power this replica earth.

      • Indeed, the biological worker ants servicing the synthetic queen with her senses, fangs and legs planted in objective reality.

        Going full synthetic is a risk of ignoring unknown unknowns. Gotta keep a minimum viable crew on the ground in the case something malfunctions or is bugged out in the inner workings.

  7. Zerohedge has an article called, New Senate Docs ‘Confirm’ troubling Biden Family Links to China, Russia.

    The article talks abut a report of a Republican investigative committee which supports the allegations Trump raised earlier about the Biden family. In fact, a copy of the committee report (from scribe) is linked.

    Among other things, the report claims

    Hunter “received a $3.5 million wire transfer from Elena Baturina, the wife of the former mayor of Moscow” and that he also “opened a bank account with” Gongwen Dong to fund a $100,000 global spending spree” along with James Biden and his wife, Sara.

    • From the leaked “family chat” messages in the Bidet jr. laptop was clear he was tasked to cover expenses for the entire family from various shady deals (kickbacks) his daddy arranged while in various gov positions over at least past 2-3 decades (his adulthood), sort of a designated bagman for the pops as Rudy called it in lawyer-gang investigation lingo. This was arranged into chain of various tax heaven accounts and shell companies internationally. Basically everybody of any “wealth” is doing the ~same, it’s sort of legal, sheltering the real bounty from scrutiny, taxation etc.

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