2020: The Year Things Started Going Badly Wrong

How today’s energy problem is different from peak oil

Many people believe that the economy will start going badly wrong when we “run out of oil.” The problem we have today is indeed an energy problem, but it is a different energy problem. Let me explain it with an escalator analogy.

Figure 1. Holborn Tube Station Escalator. Photo by renaissancechambara, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The economy is like a down escalator that citizens of the world are trying to walk upward on. At first the downward motion of the escalator is almost imperceptible, but gradually it gets to be greater and greater. Eventually the downward motion becomes almost unbearable. Many citizens long to sit down and take a rest.

In fact, a break, like the pandemic, almost comes as a relief. There is suddenly a chance to take it easy; not drive to work; not visit relatives; not keep up appearances before friends. Government officials may not be unhappy either. There may have been demonstrations by groups asking for higher wages. Telling people to stay at home provides a convenient way to end these demonstrations and restore order.

But then, restarting doesn’t work. There are too many broken pieces of the economy. Too many bankrupt companies; too many unemployed people; too much debt that cannot be repaid. And, a virus that really doesn’t quite go away, leaving people worried and unwilling to attempt to resume normal activities.

Some might describe the energy story as a “diminishing returns” story, but it’s really broader than this. It’s a story of services that we expect to continue, but which cannot continue without much more energy investment. It is also a story of the loss of “economies of scale” that at one time helped propel the economy forward.

In this post, I will explain some of the issues I see affecting the economy today. They tend to push the economy down, like a down escalator. They also make economic growth more difficult.

[1] Many resources take an increasing amount of effort to obtain or extract, because we use the easiest to obtain first. Many people would call this a diminishing returns problem.

Let’s look at a few examples:

(a) Water. When there were just a relatively few humans on the earth, drinking water from a nearby stream was a reasonable approach. This is the approach used by animals; humans could use it as well. As the number of humans rose, we found we needed additional approaches to gather enough potable water: First shallow wells were dug. Then we found that we needed to dig deeper wells. We found that lake water could be used, but we needed to filter it and treat it first. In some places, now, we find that desalination is needed. In fact, after desalination, we need to put the correct minerals back into it and pump it to the destination where it is required.

All of these approaches can indeed be employed. In theory, we would never run out of water. The problem is that as we move up the chain of treatments, an increasing amount of energy of some kind needs to be used. At first, humans could use some of their spare time (and energy) to dig wells. As more advanced approaches were chosen, the need for supplemental energy besides human energy became greater. Each of us individually cannot produce the water we need; instead, we must directly, or indirectly, pay for this water. The fact that we have to pay for this water with part of our wages reduces the portion of our wages available for other goods.

(b) Metals. Whenever some group decides to mine a metal ore, the ore that is taken first tends to be easy to access ore of high quality, close to where it needs to be used. As the best mines get depleted, producers use lower-grade ores, transported over longer distances. The shift toward less optimal mines requires more energy. Some of this additional energy could be human energy, but some of the energy would be supplied by fossil fuels, operating machinery in order to supplement human labor. Supplemental energy needs become greater and greater as mines become increasingly depleted. As technology advances, energy needs become greater, because some of the high-tech devices require materials that can only be formed at very high temperatures.

(c) Wild Animals Including Fish. When pre-humans moved out of Africa, they killed off the largest game animals on every continent that they moved to. It was still possible to hunt wild game in these areas, but the animals were smaller. The return on the human labor invested was smaller. Now, most of the meat we eat is produced on farms. The same pattern exists in fishing. Most of the fish the world eats today is produced on fish farms. We now need entire industries to provide food that early humans could obtain themselves. These farms directly and indirectly consume fossil fuel energy. In fact, more energy is used as more animals/fish are produced.

(d) Fossil Fuels. We keep hearing about the possibility of “running out” of oil, but this is not really the issue with oil. In fact, it is not the issue with coal or natural gas, either. The issue is one of diminishing returns. There is (and always will be) what looks like plenty left. The problem is that the process of extraction consumes increasing amounts of resources as deeper, more complex oil or gas wells need to be drilled and as coal mines farther away from users of the coal are developed. Many people have jumped to the conclusion that this means that the price that buyers of fossil fuel will pay will rise. This isn’t really true. It means that the cost of production will rise, leading to lower profitability. The lower profitability is likely to be spread in many ways: lower taxes paid, cutbacks in wages and pension plans, and perhaps a sale to a new owner, at a lower price. Eventually, low energy prices will lead to production stopping. Without adequate fossil fuels, the whole economic system will be disrupted, and the result will be severe recession or depression. There are also likely to be many job losses.

In (a) through (d) above, we are seeing an increasing share of the output of the economy being used in inefficient ways: in creating deeper water wells and desalination plants; in drilling oil wells in more difficult locations; in extracting metal ores that are mostly waste products. The extent of this inefficiency tends to increase over time. This is what leads to the effect of an escalator descending faster and faster, just as we humans are trying to walk up it.

Humans work for wages, but they find that when they buy a box of corn flakes, very little of the price actually goes to the farmer growing the corn. Instead, all of the intermediate parts of the system are becoming overly large. The buyer cannot afford the end products, and the producer feels cheated by the low wholesale prices he is being paid. The system as a whole is pushed toward collapse.

[2] Increasing complexity can help maintain economic growth, but it too reaches diminishing returns.

Complexity takes many forms, including more hierarchical organization, more specialization, longer supply chains, and development of new technology. Complexity can indeed help maintain economic growth. For example, if water supply is intermittent, a country may choose to build a dam to control the flow of water and produce electricity. Complexity tends to reach diminishing returns, as noted by Joseph Tainter in The Collapse of Complex Societies. For example, economies build dams in the best locations first, and only later build them at less advantageous sites. These are a few other examples:

(a) Education. Teaching everyone to read and write has significant benefits because it allows the use of books and other written materials to disseminate information and knowledge. Teaching a few people advanced subjects has significant benefits as well. But after a certain point, the need for additional people to study a subject such as art history is low. A few people can teach the subject but doing more research on the subject probably won’t increase world GDP very much.

When we look at data from about 1970, we find that people with advanced education earned much higher incomes than those without advanced degrees. But as we add an increasing large share of people with these advanced degrees, jobs that really need these degrees are not as plentiful as the new graduates. Quite a few people with advanced degrees end up with low-paying jobs. The “return on investment” for higher education drops increasingly lower. Some students are not able to repay the debt that they took out in order to pay for their education.

(b) Medicines and Vaccines. Over the years, medicines and vaccines have been developed to treat many common illnesses and diseases. After a while, the easy-to-find medicines for the common unwanted conditions (such as diabetes, high blood pressure and inflammation) have already been found. There are medicines for rare diseases that haven’t been found, but these will never have very large total sales, discouraging investment. There are also conditions that are common in very poor countries. While expensive drugs could be developed for these conditions, it is likely that few people could afford these drugs, so this, too, becomes less attractive.

If research is to continue, it is important to keep expanding work on expensive new drugs, even if it means completely ignoring old inexpensive drugs that might work equally well. A cynical person might think that this is the reason why vitamin D and ivermectin are generally being ignored in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Without an expanding group of high-priced new drugs, it is hard to attract capital and young workers to the field.

(c) Automobile Efficiency. In the US, the big fuel efficiency change that took place was that which took place between 1975 and 1983, when a changeover was made to smaller, lighter vehicles, similar to ones that were already in use in Japan and Europe.

Figure 2. Estimated Real-World Fuel Economy, Horsepower, and Weight Since Model Year 1975, in a chart produced by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Source.

The increase in fuel efficiency between 2008 and 2019 (an 11 year period) was only 22%, compared to the 60% increase in fuel efficiency between 1975 and 1983 (an 8 year period). This is another example of diminishing returns to investment in complexity.

[3] Today’s citizens have never been told that many of the services we take for granted today, such as suppression of forest fires, are really services provided by fossil fuels.

In fact, the amount of energy required to provide these services rises each year. We expect these services to continue indefinitely, but we should be aware that they cannot continue very long, unless the energy available to the economy as a whole is rising very rapidly.

(a) Suppression of Forest Fires. Forest fires are part of nature. Many trees require fire for their seeds to germinate. Human neighbors of forests don’t like forest fires; they often encourage local authorities to put out any forest fire that starts. Such suppression allows an increasing amount of dry bush to build up. As a result, future fires spread more easily and grow larger.

At the same time, humans increasingly build homes in forested areas because of the pleasant scenery. As population expands and as fires spread more easily, forest fire suppression takes an increasing amount of resources, including fossil fuels to power helicopters used in the battles. If fossil fuels are not available, this type of service would need to stop. Trying to keep forest fires suppressed, assuming fossil fuels are available for this purpose, will take higher taxes, year after year. This is part of what makes it seem like we are trying to move our economy upward on a down escalator.

(b) Suppression of Illnesses. Illnesses are part of the cycle of nature; they disproportionately take out the old and the weak. Of course, we humans don’t really like this; the old and weak are our relatives and close friends. In fact, some of us may be old and weak.

In the last 100 years, researchers (using fossil fuels) have developed a large number of antibiotics, antivirals and vaccines to try to suppress illnesses. We find that microbes quickly mutate in new ways, defeating our attempts at suppression of illnesses. Thus, we have ever-more antibiotic resistant bacteria. The cost of today’s US healthcare system is very high, exceeding what many poor people can afford to pay. Introducing new vaccines results in an additional cost.

Closing down the system to try to stop a virus adds a huge new cost, which is disproportionately borne by the poor people of the world. If we throw more money/fossil fuels at the medical system, perhaps it can be made to work a little longer. No one tells us that disease suppression is a service of fossil fuels; if we have an increasing quantity of fossil fuels per capita, perhaps we can increase disease suppression services.

(c) Suppression of Weeds and Unwanted Insects. Researchers keep developing new chemical treatments (based on fossil fuels) to suppress weeds and unwanted insects. Unfortunately, the weeds and unwanted insects keep mutating in a way that makes the chemicals less effective. The easy solutions were found first; finding solutions that really work and don’t harm humans seems to be elusive. The early solutions were relatively cheap, but later ones have become increasingly expensive. This problem acts, in many ways, like diminishing returns.

(d) Recycling (and Indirectly, Return Transport of Empty Shipping Containers from Around the World). When oil prices are high, recycling of used items for their content makes sense, economically. When oil prices are low, recycling often requires a subsidy. This subsidy indirectly goes to pay for fossil fuels used to facilitate the recycling. Often this goes to pay for shipment to a country that will do the recycling.

When oil prices were high (prior to 2014), part of the revenue from recycling could be used to transport mixed waste products to China and India for recycling. With low oil prices, China and India have stopped accepting most recycling. Instead, it is necessary to find actual “goods” for the return voyage of a shipping container or, alternatively, pay to have the container sent back empty. Europe now seems to have a difficult time filling shipping containers for the return voyage to Asia. Because of this, the cost of obtaining shipping containers to ship goods to Europe seems to be escalating. This higher cost acts much like diminishing returns with respect to the transport of goods to Europe from Asia. This is yet another part of what is acting like a down escalator for the world economy.

[4] Another, ever higher cost is pollution control. This higher cost also exerts a downward effect on the world economy, because it acts like another intermediate cost.

As we burn increasing amounts of fossil fuels, increasing amounts of particulate matter need to be captured and disposed of. Capturing this material is only part of the problem; some of the waste material may be radioactive or may include mercury. Once the material is captured, it needs to be “locked up” in some way, so it doesn’t pollute the water and air. Whatever approach is used requires energy products of various kinds. In fact, the more fossil fuels that are burned, the bigger the waste disposal problem tends to be.

Burning more fossil fuels also leads to more CO2. Unfortunately, we don’t have suitable alternatives. Nuclear is probably as good as any, and it has serious safety issues. In my opinion, the view that intermittent wind and solar are a suitable replacement for fossil fuels represents wishful thinking. Wind and solar, because of their intermittency, can only partially replace the coal or natural gas burned to generate electricity. They cannot be relied upon for 24/7/365 generation. The unsubsidized cost of producing intermittent wind and solar energy needs to be compared to the price of coal and natural gas, not to wholesale electricity prices. There are a lot of apples to oranges comparisons being made.

[5] Among other things, the growth of the economy depends on “economies of scale” as the number of participants in the economy gradually grows. The response to COVID-19 has been extremely detrimental to economies of scale.

The economies of many countries changed dramatically, with the initial spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, we cannot expect these changes to be completely reversed anytime soon. Part of the reason is the new virus mutation from the UK that is now of concern. Another reason is that, even with the vaccine, no one really knows how long immunity will last. Until the virus is clearly gone, vestiges of the cutbacks are likely to remain in place.

In general, businesses do well financially as the number of buyers of the goods and services they provide rises. This happens because overhead costs, such as mortgage payments, can be spread over more buyers. The expertise of the business owners can also be used more widely.

One huge problem is the recent cutback in tourism, affecting almost every country in the world. This cutback affects both businesses directly related to tourism and businesses indirectly related to tourism, such as restaurants and hotels.

Another huge problem is social distancing rules that lead to office buildings and restaurants being used less intensively. Businesses find that they tend to have fewer customers, rather than more. Related businesses, such as taxis and dry cleaners, find that they also have fewer customers. Nursing homes and other care homes for the aged are seeing lower occupancy rates because no one wants to be locked up for months on end without being able to see other members of their family.

[6] With all of the difficulties listed in Items [1] though [5], debt based financing tends to work less and less well. Huge debt defaults can be expected to adversely affect banks, insurance companies and pension plans.

Many businesses are already near default on debt. These businesses cannot make a profit with a much reduced number of customers. If no change is possible, somehow this will need to flow through the system. Defaulting debt is likely to lead to failing banks and pension plans. In fact, governments that depend on taxes may also fail.

The shutdowns taken by economies earlier this year were very detrimental, both to businesses and to workers. A major solution to date has been to add more governmental debt to try to bail out citizens and businesses. This additional debt makes it even more difficult to maintain promised debt payments. This is yet another force making it difficult for economies to move up the growth escalator.

[7] The situation we are headed for looks much like the collapses of early civilizations.

With diminishing returns everywhere, and inadequate sources of very inexpensive energy to keep the system going, major parts of the world economic system appear headed for collapse. There doesn’t seem to be any way to keep the world economy growing rapidly enough to offset the down escalator effect.

Citizens have not been aware of how “close to the edge” we have been. Low energy prices have been deceptive, but this is what we should expect with collapse. (See, for example, Revelation 18: 11-13, telling about the lack of demand for goods of all kinds when ancient Babylon collapsed.) Low prices tend to keep fossil fuels in the ground. They also tend to discourage high-priced alternatives. Unfortunately, all the wishful thinking of the World Economic Forum and others advocating a Green New Deal does not change the reality of the situation.

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

2,805 Responses to 2020: The Year Things Started Going Badly Wrong

  1. “The number of protests with more than 10,000 participants whose goal is to remove a politician has grown over the past few decades.”

    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/2021/01/this-expert-has-tracked-30-years-of-global-protests-heres-what-hes-learned/

    • “The crisis facing the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius dramatically worsened last week.

      “For the first time in its history, armed militarized police were deployed against peaceful protestors in the capital city.”

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/nishandegnarain/2021/01/11/mauritius-in-crisis-as-militarized-police-deployed-against-peaceful-protestors/

      • 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.
        Gail Tverberg says:

        I should be able to get a new post up within a few hours.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      According to the National Geographic article, the number of non-US demonstrations involving more than 10,000 participants by decade was as follows:

      1990-1999: 78 protests
      2000-2009: 55 protests
      2010-2020: 282 protests

  2. “West bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday claimed that India was staring at a food crisis because of the BJP’s “adamant” approach towards three new farm laws that thousands of farmers camped on the Delhi border are protesting. Banerjee demanded the immediate repeal of the laws.”

    https://indianexpress.com/article/india/mamata-india-staring-at-food-crisis-due-to-bjp-7142696/

  3. “Investor confidence in China Fortune Land Development Co. Ltd. is tumbling as concerns grow about its debt repayment abilities just as Beijing steps up efforts to cut risk in the real estate sector.”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-01-12/investors-have-a-new-default-worry-in-china-s-credit-market

  4. “Japanese household inflation expectations hit an eight-year low in the three months to December, a central bank survey showed on Tuesday, suggesting the coronavirus pandemic has heightened deflationary risks in the world’s third-largest economy.”

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-economy-boj-survey/japans-price-expectations-weaken-as-pandemic-stokes-deflation-fears-idUSKBN29H0LX

  5. “San Francisco’s office market is being hit so hard by the pandemic that, by some measures, it’s worse than the global financial crisis or dot-com collapse.”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-01-12/san-francisco-office-vacancy-rate-eclipses-financial-crisis-high

    • “In the major shopping corridors in Manhattan, where sidewalks are lined by ground-floor shops, retail rents have been declining for years – and not just by a little, but by 20%, 30% or even over 40%, amid ballooning vacancies. The brick-and-mortar retail meltdown, Manhattan style.

      “Then came the Pandemic.”

      https://wolfstreet.com/2021/01/11/brick-mortar-retail-meltdown-in-stunning-manhattan-style-years-before-during-the-pandemic/

      • 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.
        Gail Tverberg says:

        The true value of the buildings being rented out must be dropping as well. I would be surprised if this loss of value is being reflected in loans that are quite likely being securitized and sent through the financial system.

  6. “Alternative financial media often speculates about what would happen if the US were to encounter another major depression: something as terrible and long-lasting as the Great Depression.

    “However, the unfortunate truth is that by many metrics, the US and much of the rest of the world have already been in a mild depression for the past 12 years, ever since the 2008 global financial crisis. It’s just not as obvious as the 1930s depression, because higher levels of technology and anti-deflationary monetary policy disguised it in a nominal sense.”

    https://seekingalpha.com/article/4398273-hindsight-depression

  7. This was of interest from the YouTube channel of “The Ice Age Farmer”.
    Seems there is a massive censorship being played out by the reset corporate tech arm of the PTB
    and his broadcasts are being eliminate and his accounts dropped.
    For those that are unaware he deals with the industrial corporate agriculture and the upcoming food shortages coming. Suppose there is a correlation between energy system and food supply.
    For those that wish to view here is the link

    https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCI-Am0t4qQaP_Do9FwMWw3Q

    He is setting up other alternative channels for communication

  8. “The European Central Bank will disregard any temporary pickup in inflation this year caused by pent-up demand, according to Executive Board Member Isabel Schnabel.”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-01-12/ecb-to-look-through-any-2021-inflation-rises-schnabel-says?srnd=markets-vp

  9. “UK retail sales suffered the biggest decline in 25 years last year as the closure of non-essential shops during lockdowns more than outweighed the online spending boom fuelled by Covid-19.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/jan/12/uk-retail-sales-biggest-fall-since-1995-impact-covid-lockdowns-online-boom

  10. A plurality of UK voters think that Boris should resign – but 87% of TP voters thinks that he should stay. He should definitely stay imo as the more unpopular the TP leader, the better for Scottish independence. 87% of TP voters cannot be wrong!

    More seriously, he was elected to ‘get Brexit done’; everyone was sick of the whole thing by then and it does not follow that voters want him to stay on.

    Nicola is the only political leader in UK with a positive rating, especially in Scotland.

    LP now slightly leads TP in polls and at the moment they are headed for a hung parliament with SNP as ‘king makers’ – so lets not change anything until then.

    > More think Johnson should resign than think he should continue as PM, poll finds

    According to an Opinium poll for the Observer, 43 per cent of participants thought Mr Johnson should resign, while 40 per cent said he should remain as prime minister.

    Mr Johnson has high levels of support among Conservative voters, with a large majority of 87 per cent believing he should stay on as leader, and only seven per cent thinking he should step down.

    In contrast, 52 per cent of people thought Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer should remain in his position, while 20 per cent thought he should resign.

    Overall, the poll – which surveyed 2,003 people online on 6-7 January – showed a slight drop in support for the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, with 72 per cent (up four percentage points from the last poll) believing the government has not acted fast enough.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-prime-minister-poll-b1785134.html

  11. Jarle says:

    Testing new browser …

  12. Tim Groves says:

    In November 2020, Vaclav Klaus, former prime minister and later president of the Czech Republic, talked about the current Covid-19 situation and the prospects for human freedom.

    In this interview, Klaus explains how communism as a system had an emphasis on weakening horizontal relations between companies and between individuals: “Everything has to be done from one place to the top and back down. So vertical relations are the only sort of relations allowed. And this is the way we describe communism and communist society. Now is another way of breaking the horizontal relations between people, and this is the way toward the fragmentation of society.”

    “The communist system really wanted to separate us,” he emphasizes. “…not to let us go together and to talk and potentially prepare a revolution to destroy communism. So the idea was to keep us separate as much as possible. That’s the substance of the system.”

    Does any of that sound familiar?

    • Jarle says:

      This man is referring to something someone *called* communism, communism is not about separating people.

    • Xabier says:

      The Eastern Europeans seem to have a clearer view of what is happening than many others. The French seem to be resisting a bit,too.

      Brits seem apathetic for some reason – perhaps life has been too soft here? Begging for their bloody vaccines, lining up in the cold and wet to get them…..

      But the Nazi element is also very strong in all of this, particularly the Transhumanist element: it will take over completely in a Core, and then seek to seduce and subdue.

    • MG says:

      Vaclav Klaus is an old liberal economist who has lost the connection with the reality, because he does not understand the role of the energy in the economy.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      This issue that Klaus is talking about is really a planned economy. I remember that Japan has used a planned economy approach as well. China is using this approach. When everything is planned from the top, there is less need for companies to work together to produce the result that is desired.

      Of course, central planning doesn’t work well for the long run. Central planners cannot figure out what exactly is needed, where, and what level wages should be. At some point, self-organization determines how the system can work.

      • Xabier says:

        In the same way that our leisure time, emotions, even language should be allowed to self-organise: it works, and it’s effective (and human).

        The opposite is inhuman control, doomed to failure and chaos.

        Death in life.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      The illustration raises some important points.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Looking at the “Power Generation and Consumption” on an annual basis, from the second link, I see that the big peaks in the need for imported electricity come when both wind and solar production is low. This tend to be in the winter, likely when it is cold outside. There are also big import days on June 16 and July 16, according to this chart. As those producing electricity for export switch increasingly to wind and solar, they will be much less able to provide exported electricity.

      It would be possible to see the impact of lockdowns by comparing this year’s electricity consumption by month to that of the past couple of years. My impression in the US was that lockdowns tended to raise electricity consumption somewhat, because people at home would be running their heat/cooling, lights, stoves, and computers more. Businesses would not necessarily reduce use much, especially if industrial processes continued. The situation in the UK might be different, because it locked down more of the economy.

  13. Lidia17 says:

    Just saw this on Zero Hedge:

    Clean Energy Hydro Plant In Canada Dubbed A “Boondoggle” After Economists Predict $8 Billion In Losses
    … the total present value of the electricity produced from Site C is estimated at $2.76 billion against an estimated total cost of $10.7 billion, implying a loss of $8 billion. That’s bad. However, if the project were cancelled now, the loss would be cut in half to maybe $4.5 billion.
    https://www.zerohedge.com/energy/clean-energy-hydro-plant-canada-dubbed-boondoggle-after-economists-predict-8-billion-losses

    • Xabier says:

      Not bad for those who get their % out of it though…..

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      The article seems to indicate that to really work, a huge amount of electricity transmission lines between provinces would be required, as well as legislation putting in clean electricity in general. I am not sure what this means. Perhaps, someone thought that the hydro could balance out high-cost intermittent wind electricity, if it were shipped far enough, and electricity prices were high enough.

      There is no way that users can tolerate high electricity prices. They tend to push economies downward. Builders of high-cost structures (when all costs are considered) forget this important point.

  14. Tim Groves says:

    This one is also very interesting.

    Simon Parkes, a mild-mannered chap who isn’t selling supplements and has been trying to keep people informed of what goes on in the background for over a decade now, is assuring us that the US military will not allow Biden to assume the presidency.

    Trump is currently in Texas, Parkes tells us—the only state that never installed Dominion voting machines. My interpretation of his message is that that the Deep State has launched a coup, and the Even Deeper State is preparing to crush it. Make of that what you will.

    This is a truly gripping tale, like the novels of John LeCarré and Tom Clancey, The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius and the Borgias by Dumas all rolled into one.

    https://www.bitchute.com/video/rqru4ryBKlnn/

    • Tim Groves says:

      However, viewing all these “intel providers”, I am feeling a bit like Charlie Brown these days, with Lucy holding the football and inviting me to take a running kick at it.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      I will wait and see what really happens. I can’t keep up with all of the different players supposedly playing roles.

  15. Whacko says:

    Canadian expert’s research finds lockdown harms are 10 times greater than benefits

    Dr. Ari Joffe is a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton and a Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at University of Alberta. He has written a paper titled COVID-19: Rethinking the Lockdown Groupthink that finds the harms of lockdowns are 10 times greater than their benefits.

    https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/canadian-experts-research-finds-lockdown-harms-are-10-times-greater-than-benefits

    https://youtu.be/e-yNlkUR5n0

  16. Jarle says:

    In case you missed it, here’s another sign pointing towards the cliff:

    “WHO (secretly) changed their definition of ‘Herd Immunity'”

    https://off-guardian.org/2020/12/28/who-secretly-changed-their-definition-of-herd-immunity/

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      I think someone posted a link a few days ago. I agree that it is bizarre, with herd immunity being defined as coming from a vaccine.

  17. Tim Groves says:

    Apparently, the Insurrection Act has been activated, but you’re not going to hear about it on the lamestream media. Michael K Jaco is a very chatty and entertaining speaker and he likes to talk the audience through the latest developments and promote a few products on the side.

    Today in a 48-minute post, he’s pushing the idea that on Jan. 20th, there will be no inauguration and the United States Corporation will be wound up. According to one story, the military will be in charge during a two-month transition period and then Trumpy will take over as the 17th President of the revived United States, making him the first proper president of that country since Ulysses S. Grant.

    Jaco also says that 90% of crypto cash is now owned by the Deep State and the Deep State’s time is almost up.

    I don’t believe half of these stories, but they’re always nice to here. I have this sort of stuff on in the background while I’m doing other stuff.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      There seem to be all kinds of theories, today.

  18. MG says:

    The limits to growth bring forward the Pentecostal movements both in catholicism and Protestantism. The new generation of the Christian politicians in Slovakia is from this Catholic and Protestant Pentecostal movement.

    • MG says:

      …and the apostles were provided with the fire flames over their heads.

      The Holy Spirit was sent as the energy to those who were losing faith…

      “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      There are always new “flavors” of religions forming, and others becoming less dominant.

      When a person looks across religions, it becomes clear that there are a lot of similarities, even among religions that have seem to be fairly unrelated. There often is a heaven that is sort of a reward. In a sense, this makes up for the lack of an earthly reward. There may be a hell. Treating ones neighbors well is a common theme. A person runs across themes of thanking the god/gods for good harvests. Codes of proper conduct are indirectly endorsed. Also, forgiveness for misdeeds and atonement for these misdeeds.

      The many flavors of religion are needed to divide populations into groups that can fight against each other. When there are not enough resources to go around, conflict is inevitable.

      We are now seeing political groups form that are not terribly different from religious groups of the past. Some sort of subdivision is needed. The groups with the best adapted approaches will tend to “win.” Or perhaps, a zig-zag outcome (first one side, then the other) will provide the optimal result. The self-organizing economy will provide a solution.

  19. Ed – I am interested in energy issues.
    Ed says:

    switching to dissenter as a browser and clouthub for social media and duckduckgo as a search engine hit them where it hurts in the wallet

    • while I hope for their success and for more freedomofspeech in 2021 and beyond, do you think that TPTB do not have plans or at least some rough ideas about suppressing these alternatives?

      this 2021is1984 stuff is getting real.

      (isn’t dissenter the browser created by gabdotcommmmm?)

      • I’m still trying to work this out from a legal perspective but aren’t we sacrificing freedom of speech when we agree to the terms of service contracts drafted by these social media companies?

        For example, here’s a line from Twitter’s user agreement:

        “We may suspend or terminate your account or cease providing you with all or part of the Services at any time for any or no reason…”

        Followed by this:

        “We may revise these Terms from time to time. The changes will not be retroactive, and the most current version of the Terms, which will always be at twitter.com/tos, will govern our relationship with you. We will try to notify you of material revisions, for example via a service notification or an email to the email associated with your account. By continuing to access or use the Services after those revisions become effective, you agree to be bound by the revised Terms.”

        https://twitter.com/en/tos

        Twitter creates the contract and as creator they maintain creative control of that contract. They can suspend or terminate your account at any time and they can alter their contract with you at any time. Do you have control over your Twitter account? Can you alter the contract between you and Twitter? No, you are a “user” of their products and services. Your account doesn’t belong to you – it doesn’t represent the real you in any meaningful way. It is a simulacrum of you and you don’t even own it, Twitter does. Your US citizenship status, your legal identity is also a simulacrum of you as well; a fiction, established by your birth certificate, however that legal identity is granted the rights and privileges provided in the Constitution. You’re still a US citizen when you use Twitter, of course, but you’ve voluntarily entered into a legal contract with a private corporation. You’ve agreed to their terms, despite those terms being far less permissive than the terms of your US citizenship under the Constitution.

        The problem we’re running into now is that we’re becoming painfully aware of the fact that freedom of speech can be, and is being, curtailed on social media platforms. In truth, this was always possible under their terms of service agreements – it is within these company’s legal rights. We agreed to these terms in our desire to be “users” of their products and services.

        Parting questions for thought:

        If social media company’s terms of service agreements aren’t actually in line with the Constitution, why is that?

        Should social media companies terms of service agreements be aligned with the Constitution? Should they be regulated as “virtual” town squares where free speech is permissible to the same extent that it is in a physical town square?

        It seems everyone assumes their free speech rights as US citizens should be extended to social media platforms. Essentially, all “users” effectively want this and/or expect it. Is there a way to make this desire into a reality? Is there a way to produce a large enough change in how these platforms draft their terms of service agreements?

    • Tim Groves says:

      These are good ideas, Ed. At least boycott the big boys who are setting themselves up as censors of the rest of us.

      Consider getting off of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Close your accounts and don’t view their content. I only use YouTube to post videos here because I’m not sure how to embed stuff from other sites AND because some of these sites require membership before people can view videos.

      A bigger move, but one that I think is well worth considering, is to cancel the smartphone. It is not only a phenomenal time-waster, it is also a tracking device equivalent to an ankle bracelet with a microphone attached. Also, quite seriously, if you are going to be locked down month after month and stuck at home, who needs a mobile anything. So cancel your phone account as part of a peaceful process at the march to dystopia. If we can’t do that, we are no better than vegans who can’t give up chicken.

      • Jarle says:

        My accounts at Facebook and Twitter weren’t used much and I closed them years ago. I still have a Google account but it’s only content is a seldom used email address.

        I have a minicomputer which is also a phone but it stays at home most times, I call it my landline without cord.

    • Jarle says:

      Ad block, tracking block etc – bring it on!

    • Lidia17 says:

      I just switched to the Brave browser, and I like it a lot. It has a neat feature where, if you run into a “404-page not found” thing, a dialog appears that will whisk you to the latest Internet Archive version of the page.

      I had been back&forth between Chrome and Firefox, and I think this is faster than either of those.

      It’s also a good start on my New Year’s resolution to get my tabs under control.

  20. PF is saying that everyone has a moral obligation to get vaccinated pronto – everyone ‘must take the vaccine’. Otherwise they have ‘a suicidal denialism’ and they are responsible for killing others – so they had better get to confession on their way back from getting jabbed. He is ‘firm’ about this.

    > Pope Francis suggests people have moral obligation to take coronavirus vaccine

    ROME — Pope Francis suggested that people have a moral obligation to receive one of the new coronavirus vaccines as soon as possible, revealing in a new interview that he expects to get his own first dose this week.

    “I believe that morally everyone must take the vaccine,” the pontiff said in a Jan. 10 interview for Italy’s TG5 news program. “It is the moral choice because it is about your life but also the lives of others.”

    The pope, who said he has already made an appointment with the Vatican’s health service for his own inoculation, also lamented that some people are saying they will not take a vaccine.

    “I do not understand why some say that this could be a dangerous vaccine,” said Francis. “If the doctors are presenting this to you as a thing that will go well and doesn’t have any special dangers, why not take it?”

    “There is a suicidal denialism that I would not know how to explain but today people must take the vaccine,” the pontiff continued.

    Francis’ remarks are the latest in a series of firm signals to the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics that he and the Vatican strongly support the global vaccination effort.

    https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/pope-francis-suggests-people-have-moral-obligation-take-coronavirus-vaccine

    • Tim Groves says:

      I know that in some quarters he’s considered infallible on matters of religion, but how did this man get to be such an expert on everything else? He seems to be even more knowledgable than Emma Thompson! I suppose it’s a good thing he’s one of the white hats.

      https://catholicoutlook.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Pope-Francis-Greta.jpg

      • RC are supposed to submit to his teachings on morals as well.

        Can. 752 A religious submission of the intellect and will must be given to a doctrine which the Supreme Pontiff or the college of bishops declares concerning faith or morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim it by definitive act; therefore, the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid those things which do not agree with it.

      • Xabier says:

        This is actually the new propaganda line being used against ‘vaccine hesitants/sceptics’ ,religious or not:

        ‘It’s not just about your choice, it affects the community SO TAKE IT!!!’

        • Yorchichan says:

          I can confirm this tactic to appeal to people’s altruism. A letter this year from the NHS inviting me to get a flu shot advised I needed to get the vaccine in order to protect my family and the community. It omitted to mention that the flu vaccine makes one more vulnerable to coronavirus infections, which, presumably, would increase the chance I’d pass on covid-19 to others.

          • Xabier says:

            Ah yes, for the community.

            ‘All Together, Love Together’: we will grow sick of hearing it by the end of 2021.

            Somehow, I was born without the fake altruism gene, so I’ll wait for the therapy to put me right.

        • Jarle says:

          One of our poets once wrote

          “Eg ser, jeg ser …
          Jeg er vist kommet på en feil klode!
          Her er så underlig …”

          Bad English translation:

          “I’m looking, I’m looking …
          I seem to have ended on the wrong planet!
          Nothing is as it should be …”

          • Kowalainen says:

            Once the herd mentality is dusted and dispatched of, we can move on as a collective of individuals instead of a herd of useful narrative arbiters and consumerists.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Glad I am not Catholic.

  21. Ed – I am interested in energy issues.
    Ed says:

    The president is back on app.clouthub.com
    https://www.bitchute.com/video/LAb6TYTpRWy0/

    • Ed – I am interested in energy issues.
      Ed says:

      along with General Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, Lin Wood

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      The video is only about 3 minutes long. It starts out with Trump saying, “Now is the time for strength.” It makes a big point of the date January 20.

      • there’s a story where Donald Trump’s father taught him that when you are hit, then hit back twice as hard.

        it’s obvious that Trump has bought into that idea for his entire life, and probably just because it matches his natural personality/temperament.

        that is partly what January 6th was about, where he was still hitting back at what he considers to be a stolen election.

        in the face of that, he actually could be fighting this right up until noon January 20.

        then, even after that, and for how long, who knows?

        • Xabier says:

          A friend of mine from the Highlands of Scotland used to say ‘Even if they are going to kill you, you still hit as hard as you can.’

          He’d been an officer in the army – paratroops – and later went to on devote himself to saving lives.

          The best kind of tough man.

      • Tim Groves says:

        Do we know who made this video? As a political ad it’s very professionally done and it has a lot of clips from Trump speeches in it, but it lacks context.

        • Ed – I am interested in energy issues.
          Ed says:

          Tim yes. I do not know what to make of it. I believe the voice over at the end is General Flynn.

  22. Mike Roberts
    Mike Roberts says:

    “People in the US”.

    How many people in the US are talking about the New United States?

      • avocado says:

        Texas is one of the richest states, especially about oil. Will the rest of the US allow Texit to happen and become poorer? Will Biden allow it to happen? Does it matter if Texans get a couple of neighboring states as a hinterland? It’s just a bluff, the same story as in Catalonia, east Bolivia, east Ukraine, Irak Kurdistan, etc, etc. Just an old, bad movie

      • Mike Roberts
        Mike Roberts says:

        So definitely one person plus an interview. Apparently, at least one person from several unspecified states also talked about it. I’m sure many hardened Trump supporters are talking about it, also, as the idea has been raised but “people in the US are now talking about” can give the impression that there is widespread discussion about the idea, with widespread support for the idea. I don’t think there is yet evidence of that.

        Of course, there is a big problem with the idea. Even in Texas, 46.5% of voters chose Biden. I don’t know which other states had someone express support for the idea but presumably many of those states had significant portions of their voters choose Biden.

        • Jarle says:

          “Even in Texas, 46.5% of voters chose Biden.”

          … or were Bidet chosen for them so the rest of the result should look more credible?

  23. Ed – I am interested in energy issues.
    Ed says:

    People in the US are now talking about the New United States built up around Texas. With its own currency. Remember Texas has a gold depository.

    • I think the Bay Area tech exodus is also a hint in this direction:

      Hewlett Packard Enterprises – moving headquarters from San Jose, CA to Texas

      Oracle – moving headquarters from Redwood City, CA to Austin, TX

      8VC – moving headquarters to Austin, TX

      FileTrail – moved from San Jose, CA to Austin, TX

      DZS Inc. – moving headquarters from Oakland, CA to Plano, TX

      QuestionPro – moved to Austin, TX

      https://www.investopedia.com/why-silicon-valley-companies-are-moving-to-texas-5092782

      Of course, Elon Musk’s companies have a large presence in Texas:

      The Boring Company – outside Austin, TX
      Tesla Gigafactory – outside Austin, TX
      SpaceX South Texas launch site – Boca Chica, TX

      Another Texas fun fact: the state does not collect personal income tax.

  24. Z says:

    On the ground view from the Western Part of the US on the ongoing Depression:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Vw_2JR2Nbg

    Lots of businesses going away…

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      It seems like there is an awfully lot of commercial space that is either vacant, or would be if it were not for government subsidies. A person would expect the value of this property to go to zero (or very close). This would mean the debt would never be repaid.

    • Kowalainen says:

      Gaudy. Superficial. Wasteful.

      Good riddance.

  25. Re: Why does the mass media go on about the shooting of Floyd and not about the Islamist stabbings in Reading?

    The state elites and their propaganda media attribute importance and meaning to events according to the usefulness that they can make of them to further their own objectives. In themselves the events have no importance or meaning, they have those qualities for people, who interpret them in narratives. The elites and their propaganda media attribute much importance and meaning to events that can readily be used to support the narratives that they wish to promote in order to emotionally and ideologically manipulate the citizenry to further their objectives.

    So, the British capitalist state wants more workers from abroad to make it more money and to keep the profit and growth based capitalist system going. The Floyd event is useful to that objective in that it can be used, ‘rightly or wrongly’ (which is a matter of objectives and narratives and the importance and meaning that they support), to support a narrative that is useful to the elites to promote the inward flow of workers and to stigmatise any criticism of it; the Reading events are more likely to suggest narratives, ‘rightly or wrongly’, that might question that flow.

    Thus the state elites push the one narrative supporting event and not the other. The one is ‘highly significant’ and has a ‘lot of meaning’ while the other ‘is not’ and ‘does not’. That is because the narratives of the state elites and their propaganda media, and the importance and meaning that they attribute to events, are ordered to their money-making, to the expansion and continuation of their profit and growth based capitalist economic system. The state media is entirely propaganda that is ordered to the objectives of the state – that is true of all states – and thus it constructs and promotes only narratives, that attribute importance and meaning to events, that promote its objectives.

  26. Yoshua says:

    “FBI now reports in a bulletin “Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the US Capitol from 17 January through 20 January.”

    This is from ABC and should be real news.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Worrisome!

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:
    • Lidia17 says:

      Please remember, the FBI was saying they had “insurance” to make sure Trump wouldn’t be elected in the first place.

      Or have we forgotten that?

      • Hubbs says:

        National Guard being deployed in vast numbers in Washington DC in anticipation of Trump supporters rioting at the prospect of Biden being sworn in?…..or rather in case Trump goes “scotched earth” with the Insurrection Act and needs heavy military presence to carry out the arrests and protect the capitol. After all, he won’t be present for Biden’s inauguration. I guess he can’t if Biden is suddenly swept away and arrested. Of course Trump won’t be there either if he is sworn in at some remote undisclosed location.

    • Lidia17 says:

      Strzok: a pretty solid basis for requesting FISA authority on C. Page
      Page: need more for PC
      Strzok: I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy [McCabe]’s office—that there’s no way he gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40….

    • Ed – I am interested in energy issues.
      Ed says:

      Everyone should stay away from all of these “protests”. They are a setup. They will be made bloody by the government forces. Then used as a reason for brutal legislation that turns us all into slaves with no rights honored by the government.

      Organize, organize, organize

  27. Yoshua says:

    Fake News

    Trump is still POTUS

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      There may be some disagreement on this conclusion. “This site is having technical difficulties.”

    • MG says:

      Austria more and more relying on the coal and nuclear power plants of its neighbours, as regards the energy security.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Thanks! Increasing problems with keeping the lights on is exactly what a person would expect. If it gets very cold, neighbors may not have electricity to share.

  28. James Kunstler seems to be the only person that has not yet written off Trump. On the contrary, ever since the presidential election in November, he has been absolutely convinced Trump has a few aces up his sleeve. If so, he is leaving it a bit late, but maybe not too late.

    Insurrection Versus Insurrection
    https://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/insurrection-versus-insurrection/

    The title I believe refers to this: “Remember, the Left’s playbook is to accuse their opposition of doing exactly what they are doing.”

    Elsewhere:
    “…Some facts may suggest the truth of the situation: The Washington DC air-space was shut down for hours on Sunday afternoon, and 6000 national guard troops have been moved into the District of Columbia as well as other cities controlled by Democrats with Antifa/BLM mobs at their disposal. What does that signify? The news media couldn’t be troubled to find out. Mr. Trump is reported to be in “a safe location.” As of last week, that was Dyess Air Force Base outside Abiline, Texas. Maybe he is somewhere else now. The New York Times, WashPo and CNN would like you to think that Mr. Trump has been pounded down a rat-hole. That’s one possibility. Another possibility is that the Democratic Party is unnerved and desperate about what’s liable to come down on them in the days ahead, which resembles a colossal hammer in the sky…”

    It is going to be an interesting month, come what may.

    • Xabier says:

      US high politics these days is as even more fun than reading about the juicer bits of Roman history – and all in real time.

      So appropriate that much takes place at another Capitol.

      A diversion from being under house arrest: it’s just damp, dreary and soulless here.

      • Ed – I am interested in energy issues.
        Ed says:

        Xabier, this is a global war against the people. You must act in the UK along with the people of the US.

        • Tim Groves says:

          What do you suggest, Ed? A collaborative online performance of Henry V, or maybe of Spartacus?

          Xabier, the ever-changing coronavirus rules remind me of the “agreement” made by Darth Vader with Lando Calrissian.

          Vader: Leia and the Wookie must never again leave this city.

          Calrissian: That was never a condition of our arrangement, nor was giving Han to this bounty hunter.

          Vader: I have altered the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.

          (The elevator doors close, and Lando is left alone with Boba and the Stormtroopers.)

          Lando: This deal’s getting worse all the time…

          From now until the end of March is too cold to do much outside in Cambridge anyway, so rather than house arrest, you could consider it a time for hibernation and contemplation.

          Last night I watched for about the fourth time the movie 84 Charing Cross Road with Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins. A quiet restrained story without a single murder, mugging or even a heated exchange steeped in nostalgia for times long past. It begins in the late 1940s when food rationing was still in effect in the UK and people were limited to an ounce of meat and a single egg a week (were things really that tight?) But an American literature fan (Bancroft) could still purchase secondhand books from UK booksellers and pay after delivery by putting dollar bills in the mail. And it goes on until the seventies when the bookshop is closed down and man who found and sold her the books she was seeking (Hopkins) has passed on. The scenes of everyday life in London and New York during that period were heartbreaking to watch. There were crowds on the streets and in the sports stadiums, cafes and ballrooms. There were no masks, no social distancing, no cussing, and no smartphones. People riding trains read books or newspapers or smoked a cigarette. Half of the people smoked casually in the presence of others. Everybody wore far nicer clothes than they do these days and everybody was socially interacting with others, even if the British were painfully reserved compared to the outgoing Americans.

          Even the New York riot police were half-decent back then!

          As I say, it was heartbreaking. We have lost so much that was precious over the past half century that it makes me break down and cry. I feel like the traveller in Welles’s The Time Machine.

          Cheers!

          • Ed – I am interested in energy issues.
            Ed says:

            how about in person meeting with four other like minded souls to talk about courses of action

            • Lidia17 says:

              Xabier, can you make it out…?
              You are invited!

            • Tim Groves says:

              Ed, I think such meetings are fine if they are feasible. But there is always the worry one of the other like-minded souls may be an FBI agent who is trying to set the others up. So remember what your mommy told you and be careful when talking to strangers.

              Beyond that, for a start, how about abandoning the smartphone? It is the new opium of the people, as well as the door on our cells in the panopticon.

              If half the population gave up their phones, it would metaphorically throw quite a monkey wrench into the prison planet plans that our owners are spending trillions on. I mean this quite seriously.

          • 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.
            Gail Tverberg says:

            I have been viewing some short videos made in the early 2000s. Even in the short time period between then and 2021, a person can see a big difference.

          • JMS says:

            “We have lost so much that was precious over the past half century that it makes me break down and cry.”

            From the top of my head: children playing in the street, neigbhourly life, groaceries, ~healthy food, the use of legs to move, 4 instead of 25 yogurt brands available…

          • Jarle says:

            “We have lost so much that was precious over the past half century that it makes me break down and cry. ”

            Norway in my lifetime: A lot more material goods financed with oil money and debt, a lot less of everything else …

            • Xabier says:

              Reject smartphones and the vaccines en masse, and it would throw a huge spanner in the works of their Satanic project and frustrate the implementation of the further stages which have been so clearly signaled to us.

              But it takes a certain level of thinking and imagination to see how these innocuous things are in fact sinister tools.

          • Xabier says:

            I feel the same regret when I think of my school and student years: no screens, no PC/Woke indoctrination and identity wars. Much of Britain and above all London has been trashed.

            Being able to jump on the back of an old-style London bus! I’d simply love to be able to do that again.

            And to go to the old ‘Chesshyre Cheese’ pub and order steak and kidney pudding from the old wheeled pudding trolley that Dickens knew – I just caught that bit of London history when I was 18.

            My English great-grandfather owned a substantial hansom cab firm in the 1890’s – would happily go back to that mode of transport, although the slum dwellers of the time would not be so happy….

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      There is certainly a lot we don’t understand.

      When there is not enough energy to go around, many aspects of the economy tend to come apart.

    • kulmthestatusquo
      kulmthestatusquo says:

      Actually, there are some diehard fans of Trump in, out of all places, Korea. Not too many, but quite determined.

    • “Another possibility is that the Democratic Party is unnerved and desperate about what’s liable to come down on them in the days ahead, which resembles a colossal hammer in the sky…”

      it would be great if Trump declassified and released “everything” from 2009 thru 2016.

      it would also probably be “too good to be true” so I’m not expecting it.

      but almost like those who wish for sci-fi to become reality, I can hope.

      • I also would hope to see “everything” about the Biden family financial activities in foreign countries from 2009 to the present.

        again, I don’t expect it, but perhaps Trump will have some good stuff to release/reveal before he exits.

        • JHK “And so, here we stand at the start of what’s liable to be a fateful week for the United States.”

          we’ll see if Trump indeed has the final trump card to play.

          why oh why can’t JHK predictions come true just this one time?

  29. Erdles says:

    Parler has been taken down. They will be coming for us all eventually so please be careful what you say from now on.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/parler-down-app-trump-capitol-riots-amazon-b1785290.html

    • Say whatever you want, just keep it legal. I have not seen anyone on here advocate anything illegal, so there is nothing to worry about. It is more a ‘perspectives’ site than an activists site, so I doubt that the states take much notice of it anyway. There are a million other sites that they are more concerned about with their limited human resources.

    • Tim Groves says:

      If they will be coming for us all eventually, what does it matter how much we self-censor?

      Are you saying, finally, after all these years, that Alex Jones wasn’t exaggerating after all?

      I think THEY are quaking in their boots right now because THEY know that with this coup THEY’ve exposed themselves. THEY’ve seen what just happened to Lindsey Graham at the airport and THEY know there are a hundred million Deplorables in the US, many of them armed and most of them angry, so THEY know THEY can never really be safe in public again.

      If you think the security state is oppressing ordinary people, just imagine the level of security THEY have to put up with. And THEY can never really be sure that one of THEIR own security guards won’t turn on THEM.

      Also, THEY know there are a lot more of us than them; we can drown them in our urine. So THEY are desperately trying to train us to come to heel.

      • Robert Firth says:

        Thirteen Roman Emperors were killed by their own Praetorian Guard. So much for security. The tipping point is the same throughout all recorded history: the moment when the guards realise they can defend their boss, or defend their families, but not both. Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

      • kulmthestatusquo
        kulmthestatusquo says:

        Well, after the coup of 1936 (which killed a couple ex-prime ministers and a few other major figures), the Japanese generals and admirals all traveled in armed escorts and the whole city of Tokyo was under military rule until 1945 (and then under American military rule till 1952).

        I have been to Tokyo and have read quite extensively around that period. People kind took it as a way of life.

    • Jarle says:

      Isn’t it great being dependent on big tech thinking that your in good hands?

    • From “Parler is not the free speech utopia that Trump allies hope for,”

      “Here are some of the most concerning terms Parler makes you agree to:

      Item 9: ‘Parler may remove any content and terminate your access to the Services at any time and for any reason or no reason … Parler is free to remove content and terminate your access to the Services even where the Guidelines have been followed.’

      Item 12: ‘You agree to arbitrate any dispute that you have with Parler.’

      Item 13: ‘You agree that you will not participate in a class action claim against Parler.’

      Item 14: ‘You agree to defend and indemnify Parler … from and against any and all claims, actions, damages, obligations, losses, liabilities, costs or debt, and expenses (including but not limited to all attorneys fees) arising from or relating to your access to and use of the Services. Parler will have the right to conduct its own defense, at your expense, in any action or proceeding covered by this indemnity.’ This is unusual and very noteworthy (see more below). While consistent with a theme of freedom of expression and personal responsibility for your words, this is an item that all users should be explicitly aware of and should not only be found in a terms of service agreement that few read.

      Item 17 basically says Parler can change all these terms at any time without notifying users.

      Some services require a Social Security number to use (Item 6).

      Parler requires a phone number to sign up. If you grant them access to your address book,
      Parler will store all that information and use it as they see fit.

      All content posted on Parler is hidden behind its login wall.

      You have to give Parler a picture of your driver’s license and a selfie just to direct message people.

      Pornography is banned: not just imagery, but written descriptions that they find to be lewd or explicit.”

      https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/parler-is-not-the-free-speech-utopia-that-trump-allies-hope-for

      Based on the above, it looks to me like Parlor functioned as a honey trap for “deplorables.” Users agree they will not participate in class action claims against Parler, will defend and indemnify Parler, agree to be charged legal defense expenses incurred by Parler, must provide their phone number, picture of their driver’s license, selfie, and, for some services, their Social Security Number. Wow.

      Then you have this Twitter thread regarding the recent Parlor hack and archiving of data:

      “Thread: re Parler hack for real this time. I know, I waited to verify it, and it’s bad. Effectively any image anyone uploaded to Parler has been compromised, including driver’s license verification photos, and photos with raw metadata connected to accounts (location, camera info).”

      https://twitter.com/Osinttechnical/status/1348661890453561345

      From, “Very Incriminating”: Hacker Archives Every Deleted Parler Post:

      “…aside from obvious privacy implications, the archived data may serve as a ‘fertile hunting ground for law enforcement,’ after dozens of suspects have been arrested in recent days following last week’s incident.

      Of course, the data can also be used to help doxx conservatives by cancel-crusaders on the left, who go to great lengths to ruin the lives of their ideological opponents.”

      https://www.zerohedge.com/political/hacktivist-archives-every-deleted-parler-post-future-cancel-crusades

      • Hubbs says:

        Someone here needs to clue me in or send a link to a well written essay that clarifies who actually owns the internet? I know it’s not Al Gore. LOL. I understand/believe that its origins were in the military. The reason I am asking is that it seems that all these social media sites depend on the internet infrastructure, just as you can not build a platform on quicksand, or effectively transact in BTC without the internet.

        I get it that companies have their own servers, and some like Amazon cloud services are huge. But how are these URL sites connected? Who owns the highways and the sky nets? And how does this factor in the 230 law? Isn’t the internet considered part of essential national security, and yet FB, Twitter, Google, etc act as if they own it all? Didn’t we give control or “cataloging” of the URL sites several years ago.

        • good questions.

          offhand, it is interesting that the other prominent alternative to Tweeter is gabdotcommmmm.

          I don’t know much about them, but I do know that they recently moved their operation to their own server(s).

          they surely saw what was coming ala the Parlour situation.

          also, speaking of bigbrothernineteen84, but gabdotcommmmm a while ago was banned from using visamastercardetc.

          it seems transactions to them must be only in bittcoin.

          THEY are in an all out assault on freedomofspeech.

  30. Tim Groves says:

    Denmark is now at war!

    This video shows scenes from a demonstration in Copenhagen on January 9 organized by The Men in Black. It was a mostly peaceful demonstration but the crowd and the cops and the agents provocateur (or is that agent provocateurs?) were all dogged and determined, so the situation got quite violent anyway.

    • Ed – I am interested in energy issues.
      Ed says:

      Why is the crowd chatting in English. This looks like a color revolution play book. Why are authorities world wide trying to provoke violence?

    • Ed – I am interested in energy issues.
      Ed says:

      “Most chilling, however, is the revelation that cabinet ministers have privately debated preventing people from talking to each other in the street and in supermarkets, and even preventing people from leaving home more than once per week, and introducing curfews.”

      https://www.newswars.com/uk-government-may-only-let-people-out-once-a-week/

      THEY are not pushing this for health, they are pushing it for violent reaction. Why?

      • Tim Groves says:

        I agree with you, Ed. And I can only speculate as to why they might be doing this.

        Violent reaction would give them a pretext for cracking down hard and ending the current “free” society once and for all and replacing it with a system based on servitude, serfdom or slavery that they hope will be more sustainable under the low-energy-consumption conditions to come.

        They can’t afford to let the masses run around freely because today’s masses lack discipline and are likely to cause disruption when their living standards are slashed. The masses—or those among them who continue to claim freedoms and rights that are too expensive to grant—need to be taught a sharp lesson. They were allowed to run free in order that they might produce hard and consume hard, but the time when they were needed as consumers of services such as travel, tourism, wining and dining, etc., is now past. Basically, they need to be trained to be frugal.They need to be broken in spirit the way wild horses or camels need to be broken before they can serve as beasts of burden.

        • Xabier says:

          Wild horses bite and kick, even donkeys I believe.

          We may yet overcome their Satanic lack of humanity, love and the fear of God.

          I was struck by the emptiness of their lying faces today, our ‘leaders’: all hollow, puppet-like.

      • Xabier says:

        They are, of course, also planting fake comments on YT inciting violence and rebellion – very obvious ones. Rather a pathetic attempt at entrapment.

        Any violent reaction and they can represent Covid and vaccine ‘sceptics’ as dangerous, thick, loonies; and also justify troops on the streets or curfews, which they are clearly dying to do.

        They are concentrating on arresting women and the elderly at protests to spark indignation and also prevent them from being family friendly.

        If there are no violent responses, it just rubs our noses in it: win-win for them……

        • Artleads says:

          Still, it seems best to get the hell away from their media noise, and start something new.

        • Artleads says:

          “Any violent reaction and they can represent Covid and vaccine ‘sceptics’ as dangerous, thick, loonies; and also justify troops on the streets or curfews, which they are clearly dying to do.”

          I’ve been wondering what to say to deflect conversation on these issues. As in judo, get out of the way and make the opponent squander its own energy. If so, what talking points would be best?

          • hkeithhenson
            hkeithhenson says:

            >what talking points would be best?

            I have been up against this kind of irrationality since the late 90s with the Scientology believers. I am not sure there is a way to reach people in this state.

            Almost as bad, I understand where it come from. In human evolutionary history it was often good for your genes to believe in nonsense and act irrationally..

            (I could try to explain this, but the gene model depends on Hamilton’s rule of shared genes and the common practice of taking the young women of a defeated group as wives. A lot of people can’t understand Hamilton’s rule and, even though there is an example in the Bible, most don’t think humans behave that way.)

            • Keith

              I caught this item on UK radio today on nanostructures, I sort of understood it,
              thought it might be interesting to you

              https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w172x2wp7lry1ty

              scroll to about minute 48

            • Bei Dawei says:

              You are a Suppressive Person!

              😉

            • Tim Groves says:

              Keith, their may be a gene that causes people to believe in Hamilton’s rule and lack of this gene causes people to be skeptical of it.

              In fact, there could even be a gene that causes people to believe that all human behavior can be genetically determined.

              I call Castor and Pollux on Hamilton’s rule because nurture, culture and learning plays such a big role in forming and guiding human behavior that genetics must take a back seat to them.

              Mr. DNA may predispose us toward acting in certain ways, but he has a lot of competition from other vectors and influencers.

              That UK ambassador in China last year who jumped into a river to save a drowning Chinese girl while dozens of her much closer “cousins” ignored Hamilton’s rule and stood around filming the entertainment on their smartphones teaches quite a bit this piece of alleged evolutionary biology.

              Also, I am quite certain that I would be more likely to save my close friends in Japan who have supported me for years than I would my brothers in England who have done diddly squat for me these last four decades. But the minute somebody gets on my ex-friend list, they will just have to save themselves. Genetic closeness has nothing to do with it.

              J.B.S. Haldane was pulling our legs when he said that he would willingly die for two brothers or eight cousins. Everybody knows it doesn’t work like that. Some people will jump into a river or rush onto a highway and risk their lives trying to save a complete stranger or even a dog or a kitten. Others will balk at the risk. And some will even enjoy the spectacle of other’s coming to grief.

            • Lidia17 says:

              I’ve been reading a fascinating series of somewhat obscure recent blog essays, which I should post about later on in a separate comment.

              Anyway, a bit I grabbed from one went like this:

              “..in many ways nonsense is a more effective organizing tool than the truth. Anyone can believe in the truth. To believe in nonsense is an unforgeable demonstration of loyalty. It serves as a political uniform. And if you have a uniform, you have an army.”

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Disturbing! Remember that Denmark is the place with a high penetration of renewable electricity. It is really a transit hub, between seller and buyers. These renewables need more and more subsidies. The financial end of this is not going very well, I don’t think. I haven’t investigated recently.

  31. “Consumers should be prepared to “lose all their money” if they invest in products that promise high returns from cryptoassets such as bitcoin, the City watchdog has warned.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/jan/11/bitcoin-be-prepared-to-lose-all-your-money-fca-warns-consumers-risk-productis-cryptoassets

    • “Bitcoin holders barred from depositing profits in UK banks – HSBC will not process cryptocurrency payments… anyone who wants to take profits might struggle to cash in their gains.”

      https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bitcoin-holders-barred-from-depositing-profits-in-uk-banks-pgswbfrdz

    • can I be allowed a slight OD of toldyaso?

      I wrote this in 2017

      https://extranewsfeed.com/bitcoin-24b3efd58ec

      • You can and your article is eminently sensible… although I must admit to experiencing a twinge of FOMO as I watched the price spiral crazily upwards last week.

        • oh me too

          especially as I’ve heard from several sources, of people getting in early and walking away very happy with bundles of actual cash.
          lots of self doubt for the last few weeks

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Good point: Don’t expect that you can actually collect your apparent bitcoin profits.

      • Xabier says:

        It’s obvious that all avenues will be cut off except through which They wish to channel us. Which will profit them, not us.

        Bitcoin fantasies amaze me – like the search for eternal youth.

        ‘It’s clear we’re all gonna die; ain’t nothin’ here that you can hold’.

        I bet some of those who were smothered at Pompeii were thinking about their investments in their last thoughts…..

  32. Spiked has a very interesting piece on humanism and environmentalism that touches on stuff that we discussed on here over the weekend.

    I think that the piece is philosophically very good, strikingly so. My guess is that they are overly optimistic about future resource extraction, for reasons that Gail and others have discussed.

    Either way, ‘all will be well’; things and their circumstances change, us and everything else – that is how the earth works. The cosmos is an eternal flux of ‘becoming and destruction’ in which all things become what they are not yet and thus become what they are yet to be.

    > Towards a humanist environmentalism

    We must stop treating nature as something to be saved at our expense.

    We are constantly told that climate change will destroy much of the natural world. But what gives the natural world its value? What, for example, makes a tree in bloom beautiful? Or a sunset sublime?

    It is not nature itself. Things in nature, from flora to fauna, have no intrinsic worth. They just are. No, what gives them value and meaning is us – humans. Things in nature matter because humans like them, or derive utility from them. That’s what it means for a thing to matter – it matters for us.

    This highlights the problem with so much environmentalist discourse today. It is not sufficiently humanist. It treats nature as if it has worth apart from us. As if the planet is worth saving for itself.

    But it is not. It is worth ‘saving’ on our terms, for us. I see a dog loudly snap its leg on a hard rock: I flinch, instinctively clasping my own arm or leg. I see a jellyfish harpooned: either I feel nothing, or I have to make quite an effort to generate some feeling. It is through our embodied existence, empathising with certain aspects of nature and judging accordingly, that the world around us acquires its significance and value. It is why we would mourn the extinction of some fluffy or useful species and not that of a parasite that afflicts said species. If informed by a doctor that our gut hosts a family of tapeworms, or informed by pest control that our home is rat-infested, we do not celebrate our ability to host additional life at little added personal cost. We shudder and then exterminate the critters.

    This is also why, when we hear that there is a new, highly infectious coronavirus, we do not celebrate easing Mother Nature’s burden. We think in terms of reducing human harm and expediting a solution. This inexorably humanist perspective is very different to that underpinning environmentalist ideas of ‘saving the planet’, ‘zero waste’, the ‘circular economy’ or ‘voluntary childlessness’. A more humanist environmentalism would accept that the standard by which we judge environmental success is provided by and for humanity. It is generated by humanity in nature, not an abstract notion of nature to be preserved as separate from humanity.

    Besides, nature is not an abstract, unchanging entity. When we were living in caves, we had the same amount of natural resources at our disposal – indeed more – than we do today. The difference between then and now is the way society is organised around technologies that allow us actually to make use of what was previously nothing more than ground gunk. Production, consumption and concomitant waste are therefore things at which we ought to marvel. They are signs of the extent to which we have humanised nature.

    Indeed, contrary to proponents of ‘zero waste’ ideas, waste itself is not a problem. It is how we manage waste that is the issue. In a futuristic society, we might produce a thousand times more waste than today because we consume so much more, and yet dispose of this waste in more intelligent ways that cause no unintended consequences. Massive amounts of straws stuck up sea creatures’ orifices is indeed a problem. A sprawling landfill turned into a beautiful nature reserve is not.

    This, I suggest, is the way we should view the broader problem of global climate change. We have to approach it as a problem for us. So we may lose species that cause knock-on effects on food chains. We may lose permafrost and see lush vegetation turned to desert. Island nations may be submerged. Yet, the Sahara would slowly attract monsoon rains and green; places like the Boreal Forest would gradually become relatively more hospitable; Antarctica would begin to reveal itself; and so on. The problem is not some zero-sum loss of lands; rather, the problem rests on whether human society is willing and able, politically and infrastructurally, to respond to the challenges thrown up by a changing climate.

    An additional benefit of combining environmentalism with humanism is that individualised and therefore futile quests, such as pledging on social media to cut down on personal waste, will lose their appeal. For such individualised pursuits to make any sense at all, one has to be deluded enough to believe that one might – just might – be able to convince a majority of people from all walks of life to follow one’s divine ecological example. Given this is highly unlikely, such efforts dissolve into the anarchy of individualised social-justice pursuits which now dominate social media.

    Humanism instead implies the adoption of a profoundly social view on ecology. Self-gratifying and self-righteous individual acts, divorced from the structural context within which those acts take place, have no place in a humanist ecology.

    It is possible to produce, consume and even to waste much, much more than we do today, and put no more strain on ecosystems. There is nothing in physics that precludes this. Malthusian arguments about the finitude of resources discount such elementary facts as our not having so much as scratched the surface in terms of resource extraction. Our deepest mine does not register as so much as a superficial pore on the face of the Earth.

    Whatever one thinks of this argument for a humanist ecology, there is no way around it. One cannot dodge the hard questions. For instance, should every Indian own a fridge and a vacuum cleaner? This is not a question that can be avoided. Either they should, and this implies massive increases in production, waste and – under present technology – CO2 emissions, or they should not, and then you would have to rationalise your anti-humanist stance.

    Once we think in terms of humanism, and therefore in terms of social solutions to social problems, we can start to pose questions that cut closer to the bone. For example, we might question the private and therefore anarchic nature of production, whereby each producer is concerned with profit to the exclusion of every other conceivable value. A rationalised, democratic system of production, coordination across industries, and appropriate levels of investment in technology, are not assured by the blind pursuit of profit. Instead, such concerns can only appear as external challenges to businesses and, ultimately, to the sphere of production itself.

    So if we are serious about overcoming the environmental challenges that are facing us, and coming up with social solutions to social problems, then humanism must be our starting point.

    https://www.spiked-online.com/2021/01/11/towards-a-humanist-environmentalism/

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Thanks for these ideas. Certainly, part of the problem is the assumption that humans will continue to be the dominant species on the planet, indefinitely. This cannot be the case. Everything on a finite world is transient.

      Clearly, viruses, bacteria, funguses, and other small creatures play an incredibly large role, which we have chosen to ignore. They keep evolving to get away from whatever roadblocks we put in our way. Now, we have started a war on our terms with one tiny part of this system. We need fossil fuels to defeat COVID-19. But more fossil fuels to defeat COVID-19 leaves less for other pursuits, such as educating children.

      • Xabier says:

        Educating children?

        There’s an app for that!

        Who needs school buildings and lazy, pensioned teachers anyway?

        The lock-downs are conditioning for the New Education.

    • Robert Firth says:

      “Things in nature, from flora to fauna, have no intrinsic worth. They just are. No, what gives them value and meaning is us – humans.”

      I have a strong stomach; it is not easy to make me vomit. But, reading that, I came close. First, we are part of Nature. If things in Nature have no value, then neither do we. And if we ourselves have no value, neither can we give value to anything else.

      This article is human supremacism writ large, dripping with hubris. And we know what happens next; indeed, it is almost upon us.

      • A functional part of a system may be a part of a system that otherwise does not have that function. Eg. a computer screen is part of a computer; it does not follow from that the screen is a part of a system, without which part the system has no visual quality, that the screen, as a part of that system, has no visual quality and can bestow none on the rest of the system. On that contrary it does. A part of a system may bestow a quality on the system that the system does not otherwise possess.

        ‘Meaning and value’ are subjective human concepts that do not exist in the world without humans to bestow them. The world ‘just is’ and we give it meaning and value. Indeed, what else could those concepts possibly mean? What quality of objects could they point to beyond the other qualities? Nothing that actually exists. They have those qualities ‘for us’ and not ‘in themselves’. Things ‘matter’ to us and not in themselves. Humans bestow meaning and value on nature.

        As is said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, otherwise it is just shapes, sizes, proportions, distances. The brain adds colours and the overall pleasurable aspect, which is dispositional. Sounds also do not really exist, the brain constructs them from vibrations in the air, like colours, let alone do they have a musical or pleasant quality. The same is true of meaning and value, the person adds them.

        They are immaterial, subjective and relative concepts, purely mental phenomena, that are rooted in human physiology and human physiological drives – although it can ‘seem’ otherwise. Humans overcome the naïve supposition that everything mental corresponds to an identical quality that exists in the world. Daily human perception is typically as much self-centred romantic art as it is objective analysis and that gives the world its human quality. So, it is anthropomorphic to attribute meaning and value to the world itself.

        Btw. I would agree that humans themselves do not possess objective value and that they cannot bestow objective value on the world – and no one is saying that they have or can. They are subjective qualities, not objective. Things matter for us, and we ourselves matter for us. It is all a product of the human mind, it does not ‘really’ exist outside of that mind in the world itself. The subjective is distinct from the objective by definition but that in no way refutes the subjectivity of qualities that only ‘seem’ to belong to objects.

        • Kowalainen says:

          Yes, that is completely a correct analysis.

          However, as humans is being part of nature we thus must draw the inevitable conclusion that nature itself has intrinsic beauty and value. There is no escaping that.

          If we conclude that the human mind and its (hallucinated) experience is part of nature, then beauty as we experience it is by deduction part of nature.

          Nature is. The mind is. Beauty is.

          Now the question is, are we going to ruin that and in the process ourselves?

          I say no. Fuck that shit.

          • Beauty and value remain subjective, not intrinsic in objects but ‘for us’. Beauty and value are not possessed by objects, they are perceived by subjects – important distinction.

            • Kowalainen says:

              Absolutely, however it is not correct to reject beauty as non existing. It for sure in the eye of the beholder, but that doesn’t exclude its existence. Some people might view showy pieces as beautiful, while others view that as gaudy.

              Beauty exist exactly in the same manner mathematics exist. Thus beauty exists as a process, a subjective experience, a hallucination of ultimate reality inside the brain.

              And given that, it is. The same way Yoda and mathematics is real and exists.

              It is a possible outcome of the universe. The non observable processes of the universe thus has provisions for experience, such as beauty.

              One is then led to conclude that not all manifestations (such as qualia and mathematics) has a measurable property, yet exist in the universe.

              You might disagree with me, but then you’d be wrong.

      • Tim Groves says:

        Once one denies the existence of God as at least a supreme yardstick of value and morality, then Mirror’s view—which he expresses eloquently— is difficult to argue against and we do indeed open the gates of we know what happens next. Call me an old stick in the mud, but I’d much rather not go there.

        • okay.

          but TPTB have gone there ahead of you.

          Gail, Dennis et al are correct that the C religion is very helpful for the cohesion of societies (maybe other religions too).

          unfortunately, C and all the others have been found to be merely manmade and quite flawed.

          too bad that God didn’t see in advance that modern science would come along, and so He could have established a version of C which would have held up and fit perfectly with modern scientific discoveries.

          oh well.

          on to my main point:

          in particular in the USA there is no yardstick anymore for the MSM and the D party.

          while the Rs still have a somewhat large portion of the (shrinking numbers of) C believers, the D party has a reported 85% of the atheists and agnostics.

          and reminder, the MSM here is over 90% democrats.

          the horse has escaped the barn, and it’s too late to close the barn door.

          • seems a pretty simple explanation overall

            if you are a godbotherer, then you have the certainty that god is looking out for you, for your own best interests, (in general terms) and so life will pan out rather well.

            but that philosophy doesn’t match life itself. in fact it usually screws up.

            God cannot be at fault, that would be heresy.

            ‘you’ cannot be at fault, because you obey god’s laws and stuff.

            so it must be someone else.. ‘others’.

            so ‘others’ become the focus of your rage and hate, anyone who looks different to you, or lives elsewhere. or possesses what you do not.

            Al that is needed then, is a so called ‘leader’ to confirm this, and ‘licence’ to act as a mob, and you have mass hysteria and insurrection.

            The ‘mob’ on Jan 6th were screaming ‘god’ and carrying crosses. I doubt if any of them were card carrying atheists.

            As I keep saying, the USA will break up, and much of that breakup will be along religious lines, into Theo-fascist dictatorships.
            When that happens, god help us all.

            • and following on from my comment above, I was scrolling idly down and came across this link: (thanks Ed–loved it.)

              https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2021/01/texas-lawmakers-consider-secession-life-democrat-marxism-several-states-interested-movement-video/

              As well as the piece itself, read the readers comments, of at least some of them.
              4300+ comments in 24 hours!–that should tell you something.

              and yes–I do realise it’s an outlet for fascistic outrage. Giving voice to nutters mostly.
              And most, it would seem, in the vein of this charming individual, to copy just one:

              >>>>We will run all the filthy leftist vermin the he ll out of the new confederacy. (Texas and sh itloads of other states) Or we will burn the SOB’s out. They always said the south will rise again and now it will. I just didn’t know how it was going to happen until now. To hell with the lying thieving leftist swine!!!<<<<

              all happy christians of course, eager to do god's work. Fitting in precisely with my definition in my previous comment, and explaining how your religious wars of secession will start.

              With absolutely no concept of how civilised systems function in basic terms.

              They are hell bent on self destruction, in the name of 'capitalism'.

          • D3G says:

            https://pics.me.me/if-you-dont-believe-in-god-youre-going-to-suffer-26559843.png

            It’s a messed up belief system which so indoctrintes a child that logic and reason are abandoned into adulthood.

        • Tim Groves says:

          One issue with many American Cs, even from the standpoint of other American Cs, is that they appear take their Bible literally.

          This DIY approach to interpreting sacred texts can get in the way of correct understanding and it has been a problem ever since the laity became literate.

          I have faith in my accountant, not knowing precisely how she keeps my taxes low. I have faith in my lawyer to protect my interests in court cases and with wills and probate, despite my own minimal understanding of legalize. I have faith in my banks and stockbroker and life insurance company to handle my finances, without the faintest idea of what a 401-K, a derivative or an over-the-counter option are. And I have faith in my computer to work when I tap the keyboard and click on the mouse, without an inkling of how the movement of electrons through semiconductor chips makes the onscreen magic happen.

          It is enough to know that these “systems” work reliably, I don’t have to be fully informed about how.

          Same with the divine. I have no idea how it works. But it does work because I experience a simulation of what appears to be external reality in my mind. There must be something making it work. Let’s call that something “God”. I have faith that it works and that this something will continue to work, so I have faith in God.

          I have no idea if God is alive or exists as an entity or resides in the Universe or has a gender, but being raised in a society long based upon a patriarchal religion, I’ve learned that God’s preferred pronouns are He, Him and His, and that He likes to be respectfully regarded as the Lord of all. Only God knows why. The Lord moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

        • Robert Firth says:

          Thank you, Tim. Your post triggered another thought: is beauty in the eye of the beholder?

          Music is not in the ear of the listener, it is based on the discovery by Pythagoras that strings in mathematical proportion sound in harmony. Nichomachus’ “Manual of Harmonics” put this on a solid mathematical basis, and all Western music was built on top.

          Architecture is likewise objective: almost every culture had a form of “sacred geometry”, built again on mathematical proportion, such as the Golden Section (found in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid, by the way, as is the Pythagorean right triangle).
          And again codified by Vitruvius in his “Ten Books of Architecture”.

          As for sculpture, just look at Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man”.

          No: beauty is objective, and is grounded in pure mathematics, which is likewise objective. As to what other supposed “values” are also objective: perhaps another time. But I doubt the Queen Bee invented the honeycomb.

          • It would not follow from that the perception of beauty follows principles like symmetry and health that the quality of beauty itself is objective. It would simply indicate that the brain follows principles, grounded in physiology, when it constructs the quality of beauty in order to orientate the person to the world.

            Everything is measurable, including the frequencies in the air that the perception of sound and colour depend on but it would be odd to argue that everything that is measurable objectively possesses all of the qualities that humans perceive in them. It simply does not logically follow.

            One might as well argue that perception of an object is consistently accompanied by the perception of certain qualities and therefore those qualities exist in the object – it does not logically follow.

            Btw. no one follows Pythagoras on mathematical music and Western music is in no sense derived from Pythagoras. Music is made intuitively, albeit classically with formal structure, not mathematically. Mathematical music simply does not ‘work’.

            The symmetry preferred in architecture is derived from the symmetry that all animals use to structure themselves, it is a perception of healthy organic formation. The pleasantness of symmetry, like all beauty, is ordered to good procreation or ‘eugenics’. The perception of beauty itself as a response to organically well formed objects remains subjective; again, the consistency of perception of a quality in an object does not make the quality itself objective even if that perception accords with principles be they mathematical or structural.

            I am not arguing that the perception of beauty should be ignored just because it is a subjective response; on the contrary, it exists for a reason, to orientate us to the world in a way that promotes healthy life. But we should also beware of surface perceptions; not all that is beautiful or pleasurable is good for us, eg. poisonous berries and flowers, and sometime the ugly or unpleasant is good for us, eg. medicinal roots. And nature often relies on deceit, eg. camouflage, attraction, masks; our surface perceptions are limited. We use reason and not just perceptions of beauty to orientate to the world. Beauty is suggestive of a helpful course but it is not infallible.

            At root, beauty is ordered to sex and procreation; it has extended further in humans to imperfectly promote life; it is rooted in physiological function.

          • Kowalainen says:

            In evolutionary terms we indeed got a sense of beauty and morality, with nuances of difference depending on cultures and regions. But that is merely a learned, trained concept in the neural net(s) that is a “beauty” and right/wrong processor.

            It is objective inside the human mind, it is what we are. For sure we can denounce that. But then, how does one explain away the feeling of it. It has subjective quality (qualia) that cannot be explained away without attributing it as a fact of the universe.

            It is thus a process inside the brain that is non measurable with an outcome that is the feeling of beauty.

            Trying to explain away that would be fools errand. I wish anyone good luck in that endeavor.

        • “we do indeed open the gates of we know what happens next. Call me an old stick in the mud, but I’d much rather not go there.”

          Actually, atheists have much lower crime rates than Christians, for murder, violent crime and crime in general. That is true in USA and throughout the world. The idea that religion makes people more ‘moral’ is contrary to the statistics.

          > Zuckerman analyzed a wide array of data comparing religious nations to less religious nations and also, interestingly, religious states within the United States (i.e. “Bible-belt” states) to less religious states. While I encourage readers to examine the article directly through the link above, here are just a few of the highlights:

          Criminal Behavior:

          Citing four different studies, Zuckerman states: “Murder rates are actually lower in more secular nations and higher in more religious nations where belief in God is widespread.” He also states: “Of the top 50 safest cities in the world, nearly all are in relatively non-religious countries.”

          Within the United States, we see the same pattern. Citing census data, he writes: “And within America, the states with the highest murder rates tend to be the highly religious, such as Louisiana and Alabama, but the states with the lowest murder rates tend to be the among the least religious in the country, such as Vermont and Oregon.”

          And these findings are not limited to murder rates, as rates of all violent crime tend to be higher in “religious” states. Zuckerman also points out that atheists are very much under-represented in the American prison population (only 0.2%).

          Marriage and Family:

          Zuckerman cites a 1999 Barna study that finds that atheists and agnostics actually have lower divorce rates than religious Americans.

          He also cites another study, in Canada, that found conservative Christian women experienced higher rates of domestic violence than non-affiliated women.

          https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/our-humanity-naturally/201103/misinformation-and-facts-about-secularism-and-religion

  33. Tim Groves says:

    Apologies if this has already been covered> But while everyone in the West has been focused on the theater in DC, there has been a major development in China. According to Chris Patten (remember him?):

    “Mass arrests of Hong Kong democrats shows why EU Parliament must reject China investment agreement

    On the morning of 6 January, 1,000 national security officers and police officers arrested 53 people and searched 77 places, including homes, offices, and 4 media companies which were serviced with orders to hand over materials related to the case. Under direction of the Hong Kong Police, banks also froze HKD $1.6 million related to the 53 individuals.

    “6 of the organisers of last year’s primary were charged with “organising subversion” and 47 candidates were charged with “participating in subversion” under the National Security Law. Those arrested include the pro-democracy academic Benny Tai, an American lawyer John Clancey, and several pro-democracy activists and former lawmakers.

    “John Lee, Hong Kong’s Security Minister, in a news conference said that those arrested were suspected of trying to paralyze the government, via their plans to gain a majority of the seats in the legislature to create a situation in which the chief executive had to resign and the government would stop functioning.”

    There’s a lot more, and Mr. Patten doesn’t mince his words:

    “If this deal goes ahead it will make a mockery of Europe’s ambitions to be taken seriously as a global political and economic player. It spits in the face of human rights and shows a delusional view of the Chinese Communist Party’s trustworthiness on the international stage. Among other things it is extraordinary that Europe seems to believe that China can be trusted to sign up to international labour standards. Are we about to see the end of forced labour in Xinjiang and the development of a trade union movement in China? Forget it. It is also worth remembering, for all European politicians wherever they come from, that the Jewish community around the world has been outspoken about Xinjiang and in particular has drawn attention to the similarities between what is happening in that region today and the Holocaust in the 1940s.”

    https://www.hongkongwatch.org/all-posts/2021/1/6/chris-patten-mass-arrests-of-hong-kong-democrats-shows-why-eu-parliament-must-reject-china-investment-agreement

    • Jarle says:

      “Among other things it is extraordinary that Europe seems to believe that China can be trusted to sign up to international labour standards.”

      Labour standards don’t matter much, sorry at all for european super capitalist and they seem to have a lot more influence than us common people …

      • Xabier says:

        That’s exactly why they mention labour standards, and not human rights.

        Pure theatre.

        Hitler built nice new canteens for factory workers when he came to power, although he never looked at the plans………..

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      When there are not enough resources to go around for all of the people, labor standards go downhill. If people are given the choice of working for food and minimal housing (only), versus starving, I would expect that many would sign up for the arrangement.

  34. “The global economy could be on the brink of a new commodity “supercycle” as governments prepare to use a green industrial revolution to kickstart growth following the coronavirus pandemic…

    ““Things like copper, nickel and cobalt are all likely to see a boost from the extra demand to build infrastructure. Even steel and petrochemicals will be needed,” said Chris Midgeley, the head of analytics at S&P Global Platts.”

    [Call me cynical but this doesn’t actually sound very “green”, whatever that means].

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/jan/10/green-economy-plans-fuel-new-metals-and-energy-supercycle

    • Tim Groves says:

      This is an unusually chirpy tidbit, quite out of character from you, Harry.

      But I do agree that it doesn’t sound particularly green—apart from copper, which takes on a beautiful pale green patina after a few years exposure to the elements.

      • I do generally try to keep my powder dry, Tim, but I must confess the absurdity of the “green” industrial revolution, the sanctimony of the masses who now blindly advocate it, and the cynicism of the profiteers behind it do, on occasion, rub me up the wrong way.

        It is, however, just the global economy self-reorganising as it struggles to maintain the growth-rate it needs to survive, just as it did with China joining the WTO in 2001 and just as did with the shale-boom post 2008. I know I shouldn’t take it personally.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      The point of “renewables” is to point the economy toward resources that perhaps have not been as overused as fossil fuels. All of these resources are subject to diminishing returns, even the supposedly renewable ones. We quickly “run out” of nearby trees to cut down, and good locations to put wind turbines, for example. It is just a different version of diminishing returns that is perhaps not quite so depleted that we are being pushed toward.

  35. “Hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese enterprises are bidding farewell to China because of rising costs and trade tensions between Washington and Beijing, marking a dramatic shift for Taiwan’s corporate landscape with significant implications for global manufacturing.

    ““I see a structural collapse among the ranks of Taiwanese-owned businesses in China,” said Liu Jen, editor in chief at CRIF China Credit Information Service in Taipei.”

    https://www.ft.com/content/5b78a04d-e51d-45d8-b276-2bbf9b11bed2

    • “China has fired back at the US with new rules to counter foreign sanctions on Chinese companies and citizens as economic relations between Beijing and Washington fray.

      “The order, which went into effect on Saturday …means that China can strike back at countries or companies that comply with US bans such as president Donald Trump’s ban on Huawei.”

      https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/trade-war-china-us-foreign-sanctions-on-chinese-firms-131733517.html

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      I wonder whether there will be a lot of debt defaults, associated with Taiwanese-owned businesses in China shutting down. If China doesn’t really have enough coal to go around, it might not be unhappy to see these businesses leave.

  36. “Iran’s capture of a South Korean-flagged tanker at sea last week has been described by the US as extortion. But Tehran says it is Seoul that is the hostage taker — accusing it of holding $7bn of its cash.

    “Just weeks before US president-elect Joe Biden is due to take office, the Islamic regime engaged in two moves seen as highly provocative by the west.”

    https://www.ft.com/content/3549c3bc-0c7a-4b17-b45d-5acd83aad176

    • “U.S. sanctions aimed at stopping oil sales have battered Iran’s economy, which has been shrinking since 2018. By disrupting the strait, Iran shows it has the power to hit back at the U.S. and drive up crude.

      “Any boost in the price of oil also helps make up for the revenue Iran is losing due to the sanctions.”

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/energy/why-the-strait-of-hormuz-is-a-global-oil-flashpoint/2021/01/10/2cef1bf6-53b9-11eb-acc5-92d2819a1ccb_story.html

      • 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.
        Gail Tverberg says:

        So Iran does have some power to fight back against US sanctions by disrupting the strait and by capturing a South Korean flagged ship at sea.

  37. “Syria’s petroleum ministry on Sunday blamed U.S. sanctions for forcing it to cut by up to 24% its distribution of fuel and diesel because of delays in arrival of needed supplies.

    “The war-ravaged nation already is facing a severe economic crisis that has caused major shortages in wheat and fuel products. Long lines have formed outside of gas stations and bakeries.”

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/syria-temporarily-cuts-supplies-of-fuel-to-meet-shortages-damascus-syria-bashar-assad-us-fuel-b1785091.html

    • “At least 10 people were injured when an explosion rocked a warehouse storing gas canisters near Lebanon’s border with Syria, the Lebanese Red Cross and the army said…

      “The region of Hermel is known for its many illegal border crossings into Syria which are used by smugglers to move various types of contraband across the frontier.

      “Smuggling takes places both ways, but has been stepped up from Lebanon into Syria since the start of the war there in 2011 and as the country faces a growing economic crisis and international sanctions.”

      https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/1/3/lebanon-several-hurt-in-gas-warehouse-blast-near-syria-border

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      It is always good to have someone/something to blame for lack of fuel and food. Here it is US sanctions.

  38. “British minister Rishi Sunak expressed concern that higher interest rates might one day jack up the cost of servicing government debt, in comments published on Sunday.”

    https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-sunak/britains-sunak-says-higher-interest-rates-could-lift-cost-of-repaying-govt-debt-report-idUSKBN29F0P1

    • “Councils across England are facing having to make unprecedented cuts to services in the coming years, after coronavirus left them with multimillion-pound black holes in their funding.

      “Early intervention and prevention projects for vulnerable families, as well as recycling schemes, are among the cutbacks most likely to be in the firing line as local authorities seek to claw back cash to avoid meltdown. And council taxpayers will be asked to stump up more…”

      https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/covid-crisis-will-force-councils-to-make-deep-cuts-to-services-to-plug-funding-shortfall-of-up-to-ps2-2bn-b1769660.html

      • “Small UK businesses call for more support to face Covid impact: More than 250,000 companies at risk of collapse this year, quarterly FSB survey suggests.”

        https://www.ft.com/content/f0193dc7-9215-4979-a85e-b93149317535

        • Xabier says:

          Here, the stall holders in the town market have put up pathetic notices promising to be back soon, and local people have posted messages of protest and support on the tall steel barriers erected without warning by the city council to ‘fight Covid.

          We had almost the lowest case-rate in he country, and not many died in he first wave last year! Totally unjustified measures.

          Klaus Schwab rubs his hands in glee. It’s all going to plan.

        • Xabier says:

          The businesses will collapse, as they are meant to, but the strong enforcement of the new laws against civil and human rights (aka ‘the Fight Against Covid’ ) will repress any protests.

          If I were to travel to London and stand alone in front of Parliament with a placard in protest, it is no exaggeration to say that I would certainly be fined and probably imprisoned.

          Such a danger to public health, a ‘granny-killer.’ …..

          Voila, your country as an open-air prison. And not much open air at that!

          • neil says:

            You wouldn’t. A man camped out there for several years just like that. Nobody seemed to mind.

            • Xabier says:

              No, not now!

              Only exercise is permitted,and that is not exercise.

              Moreover, even sitting on a park bench is illegal, because you are not moving.

              Walking with a drink is ‘having a picnic’ and that too is prohibited.

              I wish I were joking.

              I like to think of the people who make these rules as being one day paralysed, but fully conscious – that is what they are doing to us……

          • 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.
            Gail Tverberg says:

            Tourists certainly wouldn’t want to visit under such restrictions. This makes enforcing travel restrictions easier.

        • 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.
          Gail Tverberg says:

          The question is, “How long can this unsustainable condition continue?” At some point, the unsustainable businesses will fail and the workers will lose their jobs.

      • 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.
        Gail Tverberg says:

        The amount of the shortfall in government tax revenue will depend on the source of that revenue. If the tax revenue is from liquor sales, these have risen in many parts of the world. Taxes on property will tend to rise, as the sales prices of homes rise, but it does remain to be seen whether homeowners can afford to pay these taxes.

        School teachers and police would seem to be at risk of layoffs. Perhaps subsidies for recycling, as mentioned in the article, as well.

  39. “Decision-time looms on EU budget rules as pandemic fallout grows: Positive developments for economy cannot mask long-term pain from soaring public debt.

    “Faced with a Covid-induced economic disaster last year, EU member states fired every fiscal weapon they had… The question facing EU finance ministries in 2021 is what comes next.”

    https://www.ft.com/content/53eb748e-743c-45a9-ae7d-dc140f988787

    • “Italy is considering a new stimulus package worth 24 billion euros ($29 billion) to support its healthcare system and its COVID-battered economy, Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri said in a newspaper interview on Sunday.

      “We’re considering a package worth 1.5% of our gross domestic product,” Gualtieri told Il Corriere della Sera daily newspaper.”

      https://www.reuters.com/article/italy-economy-gualtieri/italy-considering-24-bln-euro-package-to-help-virus-hit-economy-minister-idUSL8N2JH454

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Debt upon debt cannot work indefinitely!

    • Robert Firth says:

      The question facing EU finance ministries in 2021 is what comes next.”

      What comes next is default, and please pay me my large consultancy fee.

Comments are closed.