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:

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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2,764 Responses to Energy Is the Economy; Shrinkage in Energy Supply Leads to Conflict

  1. Bayou says:

    The comment section is all over the place on this one. Even Lidia17 is mentioned!

    Gail, what are your thoughts about Extinction Rebellion?

    • People need and want a new religion. Biden isn’t quite liberal enough, and also is too old, to lead this new religion.

      The Extinction Rebellion gives a reason for people to band together, both on line and in person, to “do things,” that they think are beneficial in preventing climate change. If regular churches aren’t working for meeting other like-minded young (and middle aged) people, this may be an approach that is beneficial in this respect. They can go out to bars and meet one another, after their marches and other forms of protest.

      Of course, building more wind, solar and transmission lines is a way to use more fossil fuels. But people don’t think of it that way. And it is hard to see that wind and solar will be at all long-lasting.

      The Extinction Rebellion has many different sub-organizations in different parts of the world. My impression from looking at a few websites is that they differ significantly in what they are doing. The Atlanta Extinction Rebellion hasn’t done anything since April, that I could discern. Making this banner (in April) is one of the three accomplishments of Atlanta group.
      http://www.xratlanta.org/were-fucked-fight-anyway/
      The Chicago group talks about having solidarity with “Black Lives Matter.”

      Self-organizing systems work in strange ways. If we think of this as a way for people with a common belief system to band together together to get to know each other better and to find ways to encourage the spending of money (energy) in preferred ways, then this is as good or bad an organization as any. The Sierra Club perhaps is not appealing enough any more.

      • Dennis L. says:

        Thanks, well reasoned.

        Dennis L.

      • Nehemiah says:

        Biden is a man without convictions who has made a career of doing what he is told. The only question is which faction–the center left or the far left–will get the upper hand and boss him around. I suspect that Biden has the added “advantage” that he is blackmailable. I think the Clintons (drugs and more), Bush2 (drugs), and Obama (drugs and more) were all blackmailable, and that this was part of their appeal to their elite backers. Like Biden, they were selected to run and win, because they could be controlled. Trump is hated because he is a true outsider who is hard to control. The real rulers are oligarchs behind the scenes. Aristotle would have understood perfectly.

      • Bayou says:

        Gail, thanks for your interesting analysis. However, I don’t think XR is a “self-organizing system,” or, in other words, a grass-roots organization. It reeks of financing and control from Big Money, just as Greta Thunberg’s theatrics did.

        Gail Bradbrook has a nutty background, as does Roger Hallam, who is “pursuing a PhD at King’s College London in radical campaign design.” Radicalism: now a fully establishment-endorsed field of “study” with the ultimate stamp of societal approval, ha ha!

        https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/25/uk/extinction-rebellion-gail-bradbrook-gbr-intl/index.html

        • Perhaps XR should be viewed as part of a larger self-organizing system. This system includes the organizations and wealthy people that it gets funding from. This system, too, needs adequate funding. But since these folks tend to be in the top 0.1%, there will be far more funding available than to more “ordinary” organizations.

          Regardless of where it gets funding from, the organization will tend to be stronger in some areas and weaker in others, depending on whether there is a large base of unhappy people that it can tap.

    • Lidia17 says:

      Whut?

    • Nob says:

      Just another Soros NGO, CIA psyop, globalist neo-religion and faux resistance movement.
      A money laudering scheme, private militia and intel-community think-tank.

      • David ABC says:

        Exactly, Nob. XRUK’s ideas are going to maim the few peasants who actually take any of this tripe seriously.

        Some Money Rebellion options [gag]:

        I am interested in taking out a small loan with a bank and donating the money to a community harmed by that bank (I might not pay them back!)

        I have a mortgage and would be willing to consider non-payment if a number of other people with the same bank were also taking the same action

        https://actionnetwork.org/forms/xr-money-rebellion/

    • Nehemiah says:

      Extinction Rebellion is just another tool, front, facade for Socialist or Communist revolutionaries, like Antifa and BLM, and any organization they can infiltrate. National Socialism has been effectively suppressed, but International Socialism is alive and well.

  2. Herbie R Ficklestein says:

    MOST FAVORED INDUSTRY
    The US oil industry is flailing despite a $10 billion pandemic lifeline
    By Michael J. Coren
    November 23, 2020
    The US oil and gas industry has received more than $10 billion from the federal government to cushion losses during the pandemic, according to a recent report analyzing federal financial data. That has offered a temporary reprieve even as the industries’ woes, which started well before the arrival of the coronavirus, have continued amid rock-bottom oil prices.

    A consortium of non-profits—Bailout Watch, PublicCitizen, and Friends of the Earth—analyzed federal data showing more than 26,000 fossil fuel companies have tapped US cash, loans, and equity purchasing programs since March. The money mostly came in the form of tax cuts and paycheck support for workers. In addition to that, they got some $90 billion through indirect support, such as massive bond purchasing programs by the US Treasury.

    “Viewed together, these benefits amount to a multipronged government bailout for the fossil fuel industry,” the report stated. “By directing aid to companies whose problems long predated the pandemic, the government has artificially prolonged the industry’s decline and postponed the coming transition to clean
    https://qz.com/1936859/the-us-government-bailout-of-the-oil-and-gas-industry/

    And Exxon Mobile has joined the rank of the Dinosaurs
    Don’t Buy the Latest Rally in Exxon Mobil — It’s a Dinosaur
    XOM stock rose after earnings — but only because the $680 million loss wasn’t as bad as expected
    By Louis Navellier and the InvestorPlace Research Staff, Editor, Growth Investor Nov 18, 2020, 11:05 am EST
    https://investorplace.com/2020/11/dont-buy-the-latest-rally-in-xom-stock-its-a-dinosaur/

    While the Artic reaches unprecedented record temperatures!😜🤭👯

    You go Good Old Boys…

    • We desperately need the fossil fuel industry, however. Intermittent electricity is not possibly a substitute.

      • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        yes, true.

        “In addition to that, they got some $90 billion through indirect support, such as massive bond purchasing programs by the US Treasury.
        “Viewed together, these benefits amount to a multipronged government bailout for the fossil fuel industry,” the report stated.”

        $90 billion to support the FF industry!

        that is money well spent.

        • Nehemiah says:

          Right, if we are going to lockdown our economy and send it into a depression resembling the early thirtes, we must keep our critical industries and especially energy from completely disappearing. But I suspect the groups mentioned (I recognize Friends of the Earth) really do want to kill FF completely regardless of the consequences. Some of these “do-gooder” groups are top heavy with people who have more zeal than wisdom. The MSM often reports the conclusions of these extreme groups with no mention of their political biases or analysis of the consequences if they got their way.

          • The big sources of news seem to be located in major cities. These areas tend to be heavily Democratic, and they often have high ratios of black citizens.

            If these newspapers and other periodicals want to seem “relevant” to their local readership, they will report news with a slant that their readers might like.

  3. Tim Groves says:

    Your digital ID and internal travel permit—the much touted “Freedom Pass”—will be made and developed in China.

    Speaking during the G20 summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping promoted the idea of introducing globally-recognized health QR codes, saying it would help to restore coronavirus-hit international trade and travel.

    “While containing the virus, we need to restore the secure and smooth operation of global industrial and supply chains,” China’s leader told the virtual G20 summit late on Saturday, while advocating the need to “reduce tariffs and barriers” and “liberalize” the trade of crucial medical supplies.

    He also called for the creation of mechanisms that would simplify the “orderly flow” of people in the coronavirus-battered world. They could come in the form of QR codes containing people’s health information, Xi said.

    China has proposed a global mechanism on the mutual recognition of health certificates based on nucleic acid test results in the form of internationally accepted QR codes. We hope more countries will join this mechanism.

    QR codes of this type are already in active use in China, where internal travel has become largely dependent on them and the corresponding “health apps.” Instruments to track people’s movement, including mobile applications and QR codes, have been implemented amid the coronavirus pandemic by other nations as well, though no global system has emerged yet.

    https://www.rt.com/news/507469-china-president-coronavirus-qrcodes/

    • Xabier says:

      Hail Xi!

      Great Visionary!

      For our Health and Freedom!

      I am so moved at such deep philanthropy, I feel tears welling up…….

  4. davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    huge new Chinese mission to the moon.

    https://phys.org/news/2020-11-china-mission-material-moon.html

    “The mission’s key task is to drill 2 meters (almost 7 feet) beneath the moon’s surface and scoop up about 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of rocks and other debris to be brought back to Earth, according to NASA.”

    (sarc on) amazing! 4 pounds of rocks! (sarc off)

    this is truly an amazing technical achievement, but due to the (unknown) costs in money and resources, this type of human adventure is not scalable.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      this type of human adventure is not scalable

      Depends on your reference point.
      In a small enough box, I agree.
      But those small boxes are a drag to live in.

      • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        metaphorical small boxes are a drag to discuss.

        I would suggest the actual details of reality as a better alternative.

        but anyway…

        big box bAU tonight, baby!

        • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

          scaling up 4 pounds of rocks from the moon somehow reminds me of the old joke:

          “We lose money on every sale, but make it up on volume”

          • Nehemiah says:

            The last I heard (not long ago), Tesla was indeed losing money on every sale, but making it up with “carbon offset” credits from the taxpayers.

    • We need jobs for people to work at to earn money. As long as this is viewed as a reasonable enterprise for the Chinese Government, they can at least hire some of the huge army of engineers and others who need jobs. In theory, if someone can figure out a way to keep the current system going, better knowledge about the moon might be helpful in the long run.

    • Nehemiah says:

      IF they can even figure out how to do it. I watched a video of a Chinese “space walk.” The podcaster pointed out the very obvious fakeries in the video. It they can do their fakes no better than that, how can they be expected to pull off the real thing?

  5. Kowalainen says:

    Regarding mammoth wind turbines in the home country of the GND Stockholm Institute and the first CB of the planet.

    A bit of an oopsie, a collapse of the hopium laced blue pill “enhanced” phallic pretend-erects.

    “A 230-meter tall wind turbine built by Vestas Wind Systems A/S collapsed at a site in northern Sweden over the weekend.”
    https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/international/2020/11/23/591674.htm

    • Of course, as I pointed out earlier, Sweden is having difficulty with its grid. It had to pay one of the nuclear plants to stay online, because the grid could not accommodate the amount of wind that they wanted to add. Read about this in the article, “A challenging summer for Nordic power systems,” found at the top of this website: http://www.pfbach.dk

      • Christopher says:

        Four nuclear power plants have been closed in Sweden since 2015. At least partly becasue they are burdened with a comparably heavy nuclear power tax on every kWh, constituting 1/5 of the total cost. This is on top of the general taxes on electricity. Of course I also expect that the phenomena you have described is part of the problem, that is, intermittent production of wind makes the kWh prices to erratic for nuclear power. Prices gets significantly lower when it’s windy. Wind produces 10-15% of the Swedens electricity, it’s enough to distort the prices.

    • Robert Firth says:

      Thank you for the reference. I not only read the article, but sent a reply. The article itself was solid news, but the headline, calling the incident a “rare” accident, was propaganda. When 1/17 of a wind farm fails before the installation is fully commissioned, that is a good reason to reconsider the technology.

      • An earlier article of P-F Bach told how wind was leading to lower use of co-generation in Sweden. Co-generation is when an electric power plant also sells direct heating services. Co-generation is a zero-carbon source of electricity. It is also being forced out by the artificially low electricity prices resulting from wind.

  6. MG says:

    Oil-rich Kuwait faces looming debt crisis

    For the first time in history, Kuwait’s oil revenues will not cover salaries and subsidies, which could spell financial trouble.

    https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2020/11/24/when-kuwait-emerged-from-a-monthslong-coronavirus-lockdown-hundr

    • Matteo says:

      This story is McGibbs’ grade!

    • This is part of the problem:

      Like other Gulf sheikhdoms, Kuwait provides cushy jobs to roughly 90 percent of citizens on the public payroll, along with generous benefits and subsidies, from cheap electricity and petrol to free healthcare and education.

      This is another part:

      Kuwait’s national bank said the country’s deficit could hit 40 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) this year.

  7. Mirror on the wall says:

    Re: UK age of parenthood continues to rise

    UK parents continue to put off having a family. Men are now 33.6 years old on average and women 30.7 – the oldest ever.

    Delayed parenthood will tend to mean fewer kids overall. With a fertility rate of 1.57 for UK-born women in 2019, the number births would almost halve every two generations. Men first marry at 38 on average, women 35; around half (48%) of kids are born outside of marriage.

    Half of UK adults are married, 10% are in a relationship and 40% are single. 35% have never been married.

    Of course fewer kids could make sense in various ways but not to the capitalist economy that needs ever more workers. The British state calculates decades ahead how many workers it will need to grow its economy and to service its structural debt and it foresees a continuation of the present rate of 700,000 (about half that, net) entrants per year for decades to come.

    Around 40% of kids are now of another background; 34% of primary school kids are not classified as ‘white British’ while any Europeans with a British passport are, including many kids of Irish or partial Irish descent.

    > Mothers in England and Wales are now older than EVER: Average age of women who gave birth in 2019 reached a record-high of 30.7 years old, official data reveals

    Mothers are now older than they have ever been, official figures published today show.

    The average age of mothers in England and Wales reached a record high of 30.7 years in 2019.

    It stayed at 33.6 years for fathers – which was a record high, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

    The government agency’s records show the average age of parents has been rising consistently since the 1970s.

    At their lowest point, in 1974, the average age of a mother was just 26.4 years, and a father 29.4 years.

    Woman have increasingly chosen to pursue careers before motherhood, statisticians have said. Uncertainty about employment is also likely to deter women if they cannot financially support a child in their 20s.

    The data published today also revealed a 2.5 per cent drop in births in 2019; 640,370 birth registrations down from 657,076 in 2018.

  8. Mirror on the wall says:

    > Joe Biden makes Brexit intervention and says there must be NO BORDER on island of Ireland

    Speaking to reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, Mr Biden said: “We do not want a guarded border.

    “We want to make sure – we worked too hard to get Ireland worked out.

    “I’ve talked with the British prime minister; I’ve talked with the Taoiseach; I’ve talked with others and I’ve talked with the French.

    “The idea of having the border north and south once again being closed, it’s just not right.

    “We’ve just got to keep the border open.”

    Mr Biden, who has made much of his Irish heritage, previously said there would be no UK-US trade deal if Britain violates the terms of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

    Boris Johnson, who argues parts of the deal are an infringement on British sovereignty, has been threatening to make this move.

    Speaking in September the then presidential candidate said: “Any trade deal between the US and UK must be contingent upon respect for the agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period.”

    Mr Biden was vice-president in 2016 when Barack Obama decisively controversially intervened in the EU referendum campaign to warn against a leave vote.

    The then president claimed it would put Britain at the “back of the queue” for any future trade deal….

    https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/1364213/joe-biden-brexit-news-ireland-border-no-deal-eu-trade-talks-latest

    • Mirror on the wall says:

      Spiked has a new article arguing that the causes of British sovereignty and Brexit would be best served through Irish unity.

      Polls have indicated that most British voters, including TP voters, could not care less whether NI stays in UK. The south of Ireland is firmly in support of Irish unity and polls show that NI voters are pretty evenly split, with more support for UI among younger generations.

      Brexit has very much brought the issue to the fore.

      > Why Brexiters should support Irish unification

      Britain’s union with Northern Ireland limits the sovereignty of Brits and Irish alike.

      Brexit represents a seismic moment in modern British history. Withdrawing from the EU has put democracy and popular sovereignty front and centre of British politics. Brexit presents the British people with an opportunity to make their state more accountable to them and to redefine themselves for the post-imperial era.

      At the same time, Britain’s imperial past remains a real weakness for Brexit Britain. Former prime minister Theresa May’s backstop and successor Boris Johnson’s Northern Ireland Protocol are examples of how Britain’s rule in Northern Ireland has limited Britain’s capacity to assert its sovereignty. Indeed, the Good Friday Agreement (GFA), an international treaty through which Britain rules Northern Ireland, has been relentlessly exploited by Remainers and the EU to limit the UK’s room for manoeuvre.

      Brexit has demonstrated that the union with Northern Ireland is not only a denial of national sovereignty to the Irish people, but also a limit to the sovereignty of the British people. If Brexit supporters think this government will get round the problem by breaking the agreed Northern Ireland Protocol using the Internal Market Bill, they are mistaken. As Peter Ramsay, writing in the Full Brexit, put it:

      ‘The Brexit process has repeatedly demonstrated that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is afflicted with an institutionalised vulnerability to the demands of foreign governments because it continues to incorporate a territory where it lacks adequate authority.’

      That vulnerability is built into the Good Friday Agreement itself, which gives a foreign government – namely, the pro-EU Republic of Ireland – a say over how part of the UK is ruled. That will prove a millstone around the neck of Brexit Britain’s domestic and foreign policy.

      But there is a way out of the current cul-de-sac that can remedy the democratic deficit and set Anglo-Irish politics on a new course. The solution is that the British government declares itself in favour of Irish reunification and calls a border poll (as it is empowered to do under the GFA). This solution is bold, radical and democratic. It is time for democrats in Britain not only to support but actively campaign for an Irish border poll.

      A border poll would be a democratic act

      The British state has never enjoyed democratic legitimacy in Ireland. Every generation has produced republican resistance to its rule, from the United Irishmen to the Fenians through to constitutional Irish nationalism. When the Liberal government of David Lloyd George ignored the result of the 1918 Irish election, which had produced an overwhelming mandate for Irish self-determination, and partitioned the country with the six northern counties remaining part of Britain, it relied on the negation of democracy. Indeed, the gerrymandering, violence and repression used to partition Ireland 100 years ago were institutionalised in the Northern Irish state. It was and is a failed state.

      …. The GFA, the backstop and the Northern Ireland Protocol are the consequence rather than the cause of the British state’s lack of authority in the six counties. It already lacked sufficient support and legitimacy to rule in Northern Ireland, and its Brexit policy has served to weaken its grip still further. Unsurprisingly, a clear majority of people in Northern Ireland fear Brexit, and perceive it as something imposed on them rather than something they feel part of.

      The result is that although support for Irish reunification was already slowly growing, many polls now show that a majority would vote for an end to Partition in a border poll. The LucidTalk poll conducted in February showed a slim majority in favour of remaining in the union at 46.8 per cent to 45.4 per cent. But the most recent LucidTalk poll conducted in October showed strong support for Irish unity among the under-45s, with 43 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds, and 42 per cent of 25- to 44-year-olds, in favour of leaving the UK, compared to 34 per cent and 29 per cent against….

      https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/11/23/why-brexiters-should-support-irish-unification/

      • Mirror on the wall says:

        The latest poll in NI shows that a plurality of voters support Irish unity, while many are held back from support by the private health system in the south.

        Now may be the time for Ireland to sort out an NHS.

        > Backing for Irish unity outstrips support for union but many undecided – poll

        MORE people would vote for a united Ireland than to maintain the north’s union with Britain, according to the findings of a new opinion poll.

        Notably though, neither those advocating Irish unity nor maintaining the status quo had anything close to a majority – with almost a third of people seemingly undecided.

        The research carried out by Lucid Talk found that the National Health Service would be an important factor in the way people voted in a border poll.

        However, the survey found that regardless of the NHS, 35 per cent of people would vote for Irish unity, while 34 per cent would vote to remain in the UK.

        The proportion of those supporting Irish unity is higher among younger voters, with 43 per cent of 18-24 year-olds saying that they would vote to leave the UK regardless of the NHS, compared to 34 per cent who said the same about remaining in the union.

        Nevertheless, more than a quarter (26 per cent) said that the NHS would make them more likely to want to maintain the union, with support increasing among older people, and Alliance and Green voters.

        More than half of Alliance supporters (54 per cent) and 52 per cent of Greens said the healthcare system would make them more likely to vote to stay in the UK.

        Fewer than one in 10 Sinn Fein voters said the NHS would make them more likely to vote for the union, compared to 28 per cent of SDLP voters.

        The poll found that 84 per cent of Sinn Féin and 56 per cent of SDLP voters would vote for a united Ireland, and 75 per cent of DUP and 55 per cent of Ulster Unionist voters would vote to remain in the UK, regardless of the health service….

        https://www.irishnews.com/news/northernirelandnews/2020/10/27/news/backing-for-irish-unity-outstrips-support-for-union-but-many-undecided-poll-2110708/

  9. From the WSJ Opinion Section: Too Much Caution Is Killing Covid Patients
    Doctors should follow the evidence for promising therapies. Instead they demand certainty.

    The article talks about the evidence in favor the use of ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, quercetin, and bromine for treating COVID-19, but the medical profession’s unwillingness to use these medications without absolutely certainty. According to the article:

    The most auspicious path forward is for local and state governments, research institutions, community clinics and Covid-19 testing sites to provide patients with access to promising outpatient treatments while collecting data about health outcomes. With almost 200,000 new Covid-19 cases daily in the U. S., uncertainty about effectiveness could be resolved within a few weeks. Until then, it is up to patients to demand outpatient treatment. . .

    Treating high-risk patients with Covid-19 at home using safe medications is the most promising public-health strategy for preventing hospital overcrowding and death. These treatments are widely available and can be combined with other measures. What Americans need in this crisis is clear-eyed policy inspired by imagination and a genuine desire to protect the vulnerable—rather than fueled by fear or partisan political agendas.

    The author, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, is an associate professor at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.

  10. davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    Dow ends today at 30,046

    what do we want?

    levitation!

    when do we want it?

    now!

    it often appears that any news justifies the Street to push the markets higher.

    Buydeng clinches the election, good enough for now (many would like to see the case reach the Supreme Court, still 8 weeks until January 20, plenty of time).

    • There are two major approaches to fixing our problem with many defaulting businesses and many unemployed individuals:

      1. Fiscal approaches, involving taxes and spending. These are things like taxing the rich, and either giving the money directly to the poor, or sponsoring make-work projects that they can be employed in. These need to be passed by the legislature and signed into law by the President. If the Senate does not have a majority of Democrats, this approach is out.

      2. Monetary (or interest rate and more debt approaches). These have to do with changing interest rates, and making debt easier to get. These approaches tend to produce bubbles in stock markets and housing prices. This approach seems to be the primary one likely to be used in the US in the future.

      Added to these recently, there seem to be two more approaches:

      3. Forgiving debt or postponing payments indefinitely. Sometimes this seems to be possible without legislative action. This transfers the inadequate funding problem elsewhere, generally to those providing the loans. Biden has talked about forgiving some college loans.

      4. In Europe and Australia, programs to continue to pay workers, even when there is inadequate work for them to do from the workers to the employers.

      The issue with (2) is that it tends primarily to help the wealthy. It cannot work very well for very long, without the bubble popping. The use of approach (2) by the US also tends to make the US dollar fall, and other currencies rise. This tends to make the price of oil rise, because oil becomes less expensive for other countries. From the point of US consumers, it tends to make both the price of oil and of imported goods more expensive. From the point of oil producers, the higher oil prices are at least temporarily good.

      (3) and (4) haven’t been tried before. We will find out what impact they have.

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