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

  1. MG says:

    I would say that one of the hallmarks of collapse is acceleration and derailing: the individuals or groups stop to respect the laws of physics and the results are disastrous.

    I would say that disrespecting the laws of physics is the rule of thumb regarding the collapse identification. The collapse IS going on as we see the evidence of accumulating derailments. Instead of slowing down, the proposed solution is acceleration, which contradicts the rising complexity.

    The automation has its limits.

  2. Curt Kurschus says:

    Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to all. Or, if one cannot make it a happy 2021, then at least keep it a thoughtful and conversational year with plenty of good health thrown into the mix. I expect 2021 to be another challenging year, but what would life be without its challenges?

  3. Azure Kingfisher says:

    The World Health Organization changed their definition of herd immunity on November 13, 2020.

    June 9, 2020

    What is herd immunity?

    “Herd immunity is the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection. This means that even people who haven’t been infected, or in whom an infection hasn’t triggered an immune response, they are protected because people around them who are immune can act as buffers between them and an infected person. The threshold for establishing herd immunity for COVID-19 is not yet clear.”

    November 13, 2020

    What is herd immunity?

    “Herd immunity’, also known as ‘population immunity’, is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached.
    Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it. Read the Director-General’s 12 October media briefing speech for more detail.

    Vaccines train our immune systems to develop antibodies, just as might happen when we are exposed to a disease but – crucially – vaccines work without making us sick. Vaccinated people are protected from getting the disease in question. Visit our webpage on COVID-19 and vaccines for more detail.

    As more people in a community get vaccinated, fewer people remain vulnerable, and there is less possibility for passing the pathogen on from person to person. Lowering the possibility for a pathogen to circulate in the community protects those who cannot be vaccinated due to other serious health conditions from the disease targeted by the vaccine. This is called ‘herd immunity’.

    ‘Herd immunity’ exists when a high percentage of the population is vaccinated, making it difficult for infectious diseases to spread, because there are not many people who can be infected. Read our Q&A on vaccines and immunization for more information.

    The percentage of people who need to have antibodies in order to achieve herd immunity against a particular disease varies with each disease. For example, herd immunity against measles requires about 95% of a population to be vaccinated. The remaining 5% will be protected by the fact that measles will not spread among those who are vaccinated. For polio, the threshold is about 80%.

    Achieving herd immunity with safe and effective vaccines makes diseases rarer and saves lives.”


    Gone is “immunity developed from previous infection.” There’s only one way out of this scamdemic, according to the WHO: mass vaccination. What a surprise. Also, barring any reversals from the WHO, this new definition of herd immunity will apply to any and all future pandemics they declare. Something to keep in mind when we’re inevitably faced with the next mass vaccination rollout.

    • This is downright strange. Herd immunity is a term that has been around forever.

      Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology

      Herd immunity (or community immunity) occurs when a high percentage of the community is immune to a disease (through vaccination and/or prior illness), making the spread of this disease from person to person unlikely.

      Journal of the American Medical Association Patient Page

      Herd immunity works to control the spread of disease within a population when a specific amount of that population (threshold) becomes immune to the disease through vaccination or infection and recovery.

      Clearly, herd immunity is never achieved with some illnesses, like the common cold. It is possible to make a vaccine and never achieve herd immunity.

      • Hugh Spencer says:

        It seems a much misunderstood term. Ironically, vaccinations don’t confer real “herd immunity” (unless EVERYONE is successfully vaccinated – and the infection agent dies out, smallpox may be an example). Once vaccinations are no longer unobtainable (think war or other social dislocation) – the next unvaccinated cohort are “naieve” and will cop it when the infection appears again. Maintaining “herd immunity” means that some will get the infection and die, assuming that it is like chicken pox or measles – but the majority won’t. Unfortunately, we have been encouraged to expect a risk free existence.

      • Tegnell says:

        Everything you wanted to know about herd immunity:


    • Lidia17 says:

      They also changed their description of “pandemic”—the early version talks about “enormous numbers of deaths and illness”.


      • Xabier says:

        Prof Tim Specter has some sensible videos on Youtube, even though he broadly supports lock-downs as a tool. But he’s right about this when he talked about media exaggeration:

        ‘If this is getting to you and you feel very worried do remember that COVID is still only 15th in causes of death in the UK’.

        And on the super deadly terrifying strain touted by he UK government:

        ‘Talking to virologists, I don’t know a single one who is concerned about the ‘new strain’. ‘

        One certainly wouldn’t guess that from the headlines, and the vaccine people and their spiel about a dreadful and terrifying virus….

        Pretty certain we are heading for a total lock-down here in the UK in January-Feb. If so, that will be the final blow for many businesses who were also denied their last week of pre-Xmas trading.

        • Xabier says:

          And bingo! We have just today gone up from ‘Tier 3’ to ‘Tier 4’.

          I’m shaking in my boots at the horror of it all.

          But at least I have the comfort of knowing that Boris, mighty conqueror of the EU, loves me and is trying to keep me safe……

      • JMS says:

        A panel of medical experts with huge experience all over the world express their concerns over the covid vaccine and the whole pandemic.


  4. Hubbs says:

    The end stage of a formerly productive value added economy based on the need for raw materials and energy is financialization, a purely wealth extractive and redistributive mechanism which is enabled and enhanced by the internet, computers, and fiat currency.
    In other words, it is now all about scrambling for a piece of the remaining pie.

    • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      yes, end stage or Endgame, scrambling and/or making it up as they go.

      there may be a mini stage or two ahead, such as nationalizing essential industry, to remove the problem of declining profitability.

      I don’t foresee it in 2021, but by the middle of the decade it might be a very visible need for national economies.

    • Financialization has been going on since the days of Ronald Reagan, about 1981. All that was needed was more debt and lower interest rates to keep the system going. Of course, that plan has run its course.

      • Dennis L. says:

        Thank you again, actionable information; not possible to win, able to slow losses. Something is better than nothing; only way out is moving production off earth.

        Dennis L.

        • Kowalainen says:

          Winning a game of lost causes is somewhat dumb. Yup, gotta move off planet to continue expand the promises of infinite growth. But then again, the universe is rather large.

          In the mean time, curtailment of the Kafka craze.

      • Kowalainen says:

        Yup, about the same time when the hopium of fusion power started to surface with the narrative peddlers. Yup, TPTB of the 70’s and 80’s sucked donkey b@115. And the US still got to endure that crusty Hungarian expat Soros. Why can’t that old coot just go away.

        Now, how did that pan out. Yup, we surely got depleted resources as predicted by LTG, and as for fusion power, perpetually 50 years into the future with insurmountable scaling problems.

        Never trust a scientist making predictions, and more fundamentally. Never, ever base strategy and tactics on hope. It is a guaranteed loser.

        Just because shit works out in simplistic theory does not imply that the universe refuses to throw in a spammer into the deluded gears of hopium production.

        • Robert Firth says:

          “Why can’t that old coot just go away.”

          Why can’t that old coot endure the same fate to which he helped consign half a million Hungarian Jews? Zyklon B, I believe it was called. How much we forget.

          • Kowalainen says:

            Those Jews were our brothers and sisters and certainly didn’t deserve the final solution, however I doubt Zyklon B could finish off the entity George Soros. What is the minimum requirement for qualifying being a human?

          • Bei Dawei says:

            Uh, what? Soros and his father were Jews who fled Nazi-occupied Hungary. Did they have anything to do with the manufacture of Zyklon B?

            • Robert Firth says:

              No, they did not flee Nazi occupied Hungary. They stayed, and the Soros father was one of those most influential in helping the nazis deport the Hungarian Jews. He told the victims they were being “relocated”, and promised to keep their money safe until the emergency was over. That is where the Soros fortune came from.

              By the way, that deportation was overseen by exactly one Nazi. The rest of the gang, from Rudolf Kastner at the top to little George at the bottom, were Zionists. The history of the twentieth century is not what most people are taught. Obligatory source reference: “Perfidy”,by Ben Hecht.

  5. Mirror on the wall says:

    This made me laugh a few times.

    • Sheila chambers says:

      I knew something wasn’t “right” about the “Queen”, the face matched her but something else wasn’t right.
      Turns out I was right, it wasn’t the Queen making that speech, it was a women from Ch4 in front of the green screen & with the magic of computers, she was given the Queens face & voice.
      Pretty cool but also SCARY!

      • Sheila chambers says:

        I guess I didn’t read the title right, not bad for a fake “Queen”.
        I wonder who else has had this treatment? They could do Trump or Biden & most would not notice any difference! That too is scary!

      • Mirror on the wall says:

        This is the ‘real’ one. There is no point now to the British Empire (or the monarchy) than to promote the expansion of the domestic work force. The British state is a capitalist state and it only ever cared about money, whether it was conquering other peoples or bringing them to work here. The ‘queen’ is the ‘figurehead’ of UK Plc.

        • they were making the point on channel 4 about just how easy it is to ‘fake’ stuff and viewers should not believe everything they see and hear

          • The video certainly did look real. Talking about the health care providers getting “pregnant” from treating COVID was certainly strange. So was the Queen dancing around the room. And the switching back and forth of images at the end, presumably telling us that this wasn’t a real interview.

            • showing up fakery was the whole point

            • Mirror on the wall says:

              Plus a few good laughs about the ‘royal’ family.

            • I think we should all try to imagine how we would survive as a coherent family unit if the cameras of the world press were focussed on quite literally every move we made, , and speculated on every relationship.

              I have no doubt her maj would have much preferred to be a countrywoman raising horses and dogs or something, rather that trying to hold together what is after all a load of pomp and nonsense.

              The best summing up was the Henry V soliloquy, (part below)

              well worth looking up and reading, or better still Olivier or Branagh saying in it the Henry V movie:

              >>>>>We must bear all. O hard condition,
              Twin-born with greatness, subject to the breath
              Of every fool, whose sense no more can feel
              But his own wringing. What infinite heart’s ease
              Must kings neglect that private men enjoy?
              And what have kings that privates have not too,
              Save ceremony, save general ceremony?
              And what art thou, thou idol ceremony?
              What kind of god art thou, that suffer’st more
              Of mortal griefs than do thy worshippers?
              What are thy rents? What are thy comings in?
              O ceremony, show me but thy worth!
              What is thy soul of adoration?
              Art thou aught else but place, degree, and form,
              Creating awe and fear in other men,
              Wherein thou art less happy, being feared,
              Than they in fearing?<<<<<

              what we have now is a living museum keeper, who we expect not to have the failings of ordinary mortals. I am amazed she hasn't gone completely nuts at all the raving of the loony press around her. Any wonder that all her kids have gone off the rails, when they are granted no privacy to sort out the sort of life-problems that beset us all?

              Yes I am a monarchist, but only in the sense that I see the presidents that are periodically voted into that office in other nations. The Queen prevent anyone else taking the job.

              Is that the sort of insanity to be preferred, to what we have?

            • Mirror on the wall says:

              Your attachment to the monarchy is of zero interest or concern to me and your arguments are frankly puerile.

            • Lidia17 says:

              I think Norman’s comments are interesting.

              Having not grown up in a monarchy, and having imbued (to an extent, false) democratic-with-a-small-“d” notions, I like hearing from subjects of those sorts of realms.

            • in 2019 we had a visitor from Thailand, who as part of the trip to uk went to royal ascot, where she saw our queen just being ‘there’ in so far as she could be, with very little pomp and ceremony. Yes folks get dressed up a bit, but people like doing that. Girls in big hats and little else on a cold UK summers day seems harmless enough.

              this is the opposite to Thailand, where subjects must still prostrate themselves and all that nonsense.

              so there you have opposite ends of the royal scale, one totally idiotic, one sort of ‘ordinary,’ much like the monarchies of Norway, holland etc….nations who seem to have found the balance and benefits of having royalty. Our Thai visitor was impressed to say the least. In Thailand they’ve been burning effigies of the king to register protest.

              In Uk that simply doesn’t happen. Not because its illegal–it isn’t. People simply don’t want that. Hard to imagine, but there it is. We have ceremonial bonfires all the time, with burning images on them
              But the Queen—I don’t think that’s ever happened. Ask yourself why. People at large wouldn’t stand for it.

              Here our royal family can be on spitting image. (And have been for 300 years. Nobody bothers about it) in Thailand that might incur the death penalty. Here our queen participates in the gag that she skydived into the olympic stadium for the opening ceremony in 2012.

              We don’t take it very seriously you see. She can’t chop people’s heads off these days.

              Unfortunately the new Tsar of Russia most certainly can, and does. They got rid of the old Tsar 100 years ago. Their history since then makes interesting reading. Any thoughts?

              the uk version has derived from our wealth of empire–ie loot, which built the great palaces and castles we have here. Hence our queen is a custodian. She owns a couple of country houses, but the rest belongs to the state.
              She has no power, yet by some weird political twist, she prevents ultimate power getting into the wrong hands. Whether that skill will devolve to Charles I have no idea.

              For that she gets paid by the taxpayer.

              Empty out and tear down all the stately homes by all means, They are all museums now. They aren’t suitable to house homeless people. Then what?

              Nobody is better off. Other than demolition contractors.

              Like everything else, the UK monarchy has been a product of cheap surplus energy. (especially victorian) We’ve now run out of it. Expecting HM to move into social housing isn’t going to solve our problems. Though I imagine she’d fit in well enough.

              I remain amazed that she didn’t jack the whole thing in 30 years ago and retire.

              Seems to me we’re lucky to have a 96 yr old as a solid focus who can still mix it with all that other heads of state can throw at her. She’s seen off about a dozen prime ministers. You know any old bird as tough as that?

              Or maybe we should introduce the loonytoons remake every 4 years which throws up the likes of the don?

              Daresay I’ll get a lot of stick for my royalist leanings, but at the same time I shall expect coherent suggestions of a better alternative .

            • Lidia17 says:

              “imbued” => “been imbued with”

            • Mirror on the wall says:

              That does not surprise me.

              Btw. UK is not a monarchy, it is a fake democracy with a fake monarchy.

            • Lidia17 says:

              That is true.
              Places like Thailand are more interesting.
              Thank you for the insult, by the way. I wouldn’t want you to think I hadn’t noticed it.

            • JMS says:

              Mirrror, the notions of fake democracy and fake monarchy presupposes the existence of its opposite, but I don’t know what a true/real democracy or a true/real monarchy could be, and I am not aware that any of these ever existed in the world.
              In fact, I don’t even understand the use of the adjective “fake” in relation to political systems. Aren’t they all fake in a sense? Do you care to explain what you mean?

            • Mirror on the wall says:

              If you think that UK is either a real democracy or a real monarchy, let alone both, then you really are beyond help – and as beyond help, the world really will not miss you or your kind.

            • Kowalainen says:

              Goddamn it mirror, you’re vicious. I’m loving it. ❤️

        • the main commonwealth states don’t have fights about who is head of state

          that has to a good thing maybe

          • Mirror on the wall says:

            Nearly all countries are republics these days, including all the main countries in Europe.

            I just know that you are not arguing that blacks need the ‘queen’ to keep them civilised.

            • I thought it was obvious I meant Canada Australia and NZ

              No nation in Europe is a member of the commonwealth as far as I am aware.

              having her maj. as head of state is entirely a matter of free choice

            • Mirror on the wall says:

              Seriously doubt that they would have any difficulty governing themselves without ‘Er Majesticness. Yes they can have referendums anytime they like and no doubt they will.

              YouGov currently finds support for a republic at 62% in Australia. Ipsos finds that less than half of Canadians want the monarchy to continue passed QEII. Curia finds that 55% of NZ want a NZ as head of state and only 39% want the next British monarch. They are all out as soon as she dies, which cannot be too long now.

              Nearly all countries in Europe are republics, including all the main ones. They function just fine and so will NZ, AUS and CAN.

        • Sheila chambers says:

          WHY does the UK put up with ROYALTY? Their just people with the “right” family name, not special, not “chosen” by a “god”, just people sucking off the taxpayers pound. Isn’t it time royalty was ended?
          Let them sweat for their bread like the rest of the peasants do.
          The USA needs to free itself from the OLIGARCHS that rule it as well, they think of themselves as “royalty” & us as PEASANTS OR “PEE ONS”.
          Those “golden showers” are definately not “fun”!

          • the current monarchic uk system will end, no doubt about that.

            History confirms it in other nations.

            Russia got rid of the Tsars, because the Tsars and the hierarchic system was sucking the nation’s resources dry to live out a fantastical lifestyle at their expense. The Tsars had Faberge eggs made as gifts while the peasants starved

            So they shot them. Fair enough. It was an absolute monarchy where dissenters were disposed of in various unpleasant ways. They had it coming.

            The UK did it in the 1600s. We realised the chaos that caused and re-instated it a few years later, but removed the ‘absolute’ power for good.

            Would anyone care to comment on the state of the current Russian resource-draining system now in force there?
            And point to the major differences between now and pre-1917?

            The Russians seem to have gone round in a 100 year circle.


            The current UK monarchic system provides a nominal head of state who is effectively a museum keeper with no real executive powers.
            Her kids were born into the same museum, and all went off the rails one way or another, (hardly surprising)—to me it looks like the end of the line.

            Whether it will last into the next generation is anybody’s guess, but it is at least benign. And for the moment stops anyone else taking the job. Who would want to be king anyway.?

            This is why I made reference to what Shakespeare wrote about it, above.
            With a monarchy. it’s important to stand back and see the purpose of it, not rant and rave at the foot of the guillotine waiting to catch heads in a basket.

            (That way you might find your own head in there)

            As far as we know HM is not a member of the Gates-Bezos-Soros cabal of world domination by daft and dubious means. (vaccination anyone?)
            Seems we have to have a head of state.
            Do we really want lunatics like Trump getting elected to the job? Or Johnson for that matter.

            Or Putin who has remade himself Tsar?

    • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      bravo pip pip cheerio bloody ‘ell tally ho.

      the UK still has some life left.

    • Mirror on the wall says:

      Momentum is growing for a republic in Spain, while the ‘right’ are rallying around the monarchy. A recent poll showed that a plurality want a republic. There is some concern that sections of the military might attempt to disrupt the democratic process – if any government has the democratic spirit to poll the demos on the matter.

      > Juan Carlos affair bolsters Spanish minister’s republican campaign

      Alberto Garzón is one of the most vocal republicans to sit in the cabinet post-civil war

      …. Spain’s socialist prime minister Pedro Sánchez says that an individual — Juan Carlos — is under scrutiny, not the institution of the monarchy itself. Despite rumblings in the Socialists’ ranks, the centre-left party has long maintained the monarchy is an indispensable part of the 1978 constitution that underpinned the country’s transition from Franco’s rule.

      Mr Garzón makes his disagreement plain.

      “Institutions have to be designed assuming the worst,” he said. “I don’t want to have to trust someone to be a good actor; we need institutions that work . . . that provide transparency — and, for the monarchy, this doesn’t exist.”

      He believes that a republic would usher in a new federal settlement, and break with decades of political and economic patronage: “For me, republicanism means modernisation . . . a democratic, accountable country where all of us, all of Spain’s nationalities, fit in.” 

      Spain’s state polling organisation, the Centre for Sociological Research, has not surveyed opinion about the monarchy since 2015 after two decades in which the institution’s popularity declined.

      But the monarchy is becoming an ever more potent symbol to elements of the Spanish right, outraged at government ministers such as Mr Garzón and at the minority coalition’s dependence on votes from separatist Basque and Catalan parties.

      Last month, dozens of retired military officers sent two letters to Felipe VI attacking the “social-communist government”. Some of the signatories also participated in a WhatsApp group that made references to coups and to “shooting 26m bastards”. 

      Mr Sánchez’s government has referred the WhatsApp chat to prosecutors while stressing that only a small minority of retired officers were involved. Mr Garzón is considerably more agitated.

      “We cannot underestimate the danger represented by the penetration of these reactionary elements of institutions as important as the armed forces,” he said, calling for efforts to root extremists out of the army.

      “In Spain, the most conservative elements in the country have always been very strong,” he added. “This is the place that came up with the counter-reformation to respond to the protestant reformation [500 years ago].” 

      Mr Garzón’s republicanism remains a minority view within the government, let alone the parliament. “This is not a matter of urgency,” he acknowledges. “But sooner or later we are going to have to talk about constitutional reform — and that debate cannot avoid the issue of the monarchy, because every day republicanism is getting stronger.” 


      • Kowalainen says:

        Glad to see the Spaniards launching the armada towards the nihilism laden bastion of Calhounian Crypto Commie Soylent GND.

        If they do desire a commie future, why not move to Cuba, North Korea or join the CCP. GTFO! Fscking socialist engineers, that does not know jack bovine excrement about engineering.

        • Mirror on the wall says:

          Francoism came to an end when Franco made the king his successor, and the king immediately dumped fascism for ‘liberal democracy’. It would be ironic if democracy now put an end to the monarchy.

          A few fat old ex-generals are unlikely to be able to do anything about that. It would be so funny if the fascist remnant tried to stage a coup but it is highly unlikely that they would succeed in Western Europe.

          Spain is a capitalist liberal democracy and that is how it will remain for the foreseeable; the only question here is whether Spain will dump the monarchy.

          Spain is no longer a traditional, Catholic peasant country, it is urbanised and very liberal and left. A plurality of Spaniards now want rid of the monarchy and that should be their choice in a democracy.

          • Kowalainen says:

            And by what means exactly would this make anything different? It feels like the typical “idealism” of useless eaters. Not that I am a royalist or anything.

            The artisanry of Spain is terrified that the hordes of useless eaters aspire for more power. We shall see if the holy trinity of IC got something in store for the sanctimonious hypocrites and their guvmint representatives.

            Once the plunge down the Seneca kicks into high gear, you can kiss farewell to that “liberal democracy”.

            • Mirror on the wall says:

              And you can most likely kiss good bye to your life let alone your ‘artisan’ pretences.

            • Kowalainen says:

              Mirror, right. I love when you pour some salt on me. What would life be without the yin and yang of perpetual conflict.


              However, you might want to consider all those things in your life that makes it bearable. For example that Korg synth you were eyeing on eBay some time ago. Now who designed that musical instrument? An useless eater (neo liberal sanctimony) or an artisan? (You might ponder about how and why I remember this 🤔❤️)

              Yeah, you wouldn’t want to live in a world where the people who make the things you take for granted didn’t exist. The artisanry: makers of magic and techno wizardry that everybody takes for granted.

  6. JMS says:

    “There’s no conspiracy here, Get your damn vaccine!”
    Big pharma would not develop them, nor would CDC approve them, if they were not safe, healthy, blessed, patriotic and 100% scientific.

    The pandemics of yesteryear could be so enlightening, if homo televisivus had a memory.

  7. Ed says:

    A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all at OWF. Your company is an island of sanity amidst the long psy ops.

    • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      or as some cynics are now saying:

      Merry Christmask

    • Thanks! I find my time filled with all kinds of “stuff” right now. I am more or less in charge of a “zoom” family Christmas, with relatives scattered around the US. We have a total of seven “events” set up over the four day period (Thursday to Sunday), and programs for each of these events. We have a committee of five set up to handle all of this, and I am the chair of this committee. This, of course, is in addition to an actual physical family Christmas for the four of us living in Atlanta (myself, husband and two sons).

      It is going well, apart from being time-consuming. Most people have been cued in to stay away from controversial topics. One minor snafu, when my daughter in the Boston area sent out a text message to everyone on the list, reminding people that Jackbox games would be starting in less than an hour. My husband (who would be running the games on his computer) responded with, “We are eating in a Malaysian restaurant, but we will be back in plenty of time.” My not too politically correct niece, who is a dentist, responded with “Restaurant = COVID.” Others on the list quickly changed the subject.

      • Discussions of COVID are postponed until after January 1, and then limited to smaller groups.

        • JMS says:

          Thanks to a practical device inserted in her foot, called a toecap i believe, my wife managed to make our family Christmas dinner run in the most peaceful and cordial way, without the slightest hint of covid in conversation.
          I must say it worked perfectly (my ankles can attest to it) and I recomend it to everyone. Familiar bliss guaranteed. 🙂

  8. Sobering article, thanks Gail.
    Perhaps these were the last ~opulent Christmas.

    • Xabier says:

      Maybe, worldof: lab-grown meat and cricket crackers next year – if we are lucky and the bio-metric scanner recognises us….

      But, for today, Christus Natus Est! and ‘Unconquered Sun!’ for any pagans out there.

      We may live another year to experience yet more psy ops……what a merry thought!

      • The moon furnished a giant halo coat yesterday, hopefully just about incoming weather change and not predicting something more sinister in store for us..

        • Bei Dawei says:

          I’d never heard of this particular superstition before. The Drudge Report is always going on about “blood moons” and “Bible prophecy”, though.

    • I agree. Last real christmas. George Michael was onto something when he sang Last Christmas, and he checked out before all these mess occurred

      • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        the govs/CBs have stabilized the wobbling system, at least at the first world G20 level.

        this can be seen by looking at the energy base of the system. I haven’t seen where FF usage is down any more than about 10%, and oil prices are encouragingly UP.

        These same govs/CBs have a challenging year ahead, but the MoreMoneyToday MagicMoneyTree can-kicking has worked through 2020, and similar tactics will be applied in 2021.

        the Brexit deal should be enough to keep the UK from falling off the rails. As long as there is no martial law coming to the USA, then the Fed PPT and a quasi repeat of the massive socialist handouts should keep the USA limping along through 2021.

        some countries had their “Last Christmas” in 2019 or earlier, the usual suspects Yemen Syria Lebanon VZ etc, and perhaps a few had it today in 2020.

        but the gov/CB Endgame is continuing right now.

        Christmas 2021 in the first world will most likely be very similar to this one, after 365 days of crazy financial games and virus psyops, after 365 days of a weakening IC, but probably only slightly weakening, and still standing.

  9. Artleads says:

    Thanks for the wonderfully lucid article. (Although I have my usual sticking points re the nothing-can-be-done side of the ledger.)

    “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.”

    It’s not art history per se I see as the problem as the convolutions of the academic system that teaches it. Art history can be “taught,” as I have done by putting up murals of art history subjects on newspaper in public places. As one mural deteriorates, you put up another. It can also be taught to varied socioeconomic groups from early childhood up as part of the school curriculum. It’s the mindset of our public institutions, not, directly, physical laws that hinders much of this from happening at a critical scale. Without the aesthetic training art history confers, avoidable limitations in judgment proliferate.

    “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.”

    Advanced degrees are part of the financialist baggage (including the disease of “progress”) that is destroying educational institutions.

    “(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.”

    I get the sense from this that we’ve used industrial civilization (IC) to arrive at a plateaux where we could level off the search for new drugs. Leveling off is not consistent with ideas of growth and progress, so we could not expect leveling off to work.

    Forest fires being wrongly treated due to pressure from nearby homeowners could be addressed by forbidding development near forests, whether people like the views there or not. An article such as yours could be spun to show would-be forest residents that living near forests doesn’t work for the big picture, and that they are free to live near forests only if they deal with fires at their own expense. Our political economy won’t allow this to happen, but that’s not the fault of physics.

    There’s more along these line, where I would repeat the claim that it’s the political economy and progress ideology, rather than physics, that create the mismatch between an increasingly fast downward escalator, and human’s continuing efforts to climb upward on it.

    • Flipper says:

      Happy Holidays Gail and my fellow OFW’ers, just a quick check-in from Massachusetts. Somewhere in the comments the future of warfare was mentioned – my wife and I are retired from 30 years of corporate IT computer work (sysadmins) and we’ve been following the SolarWinds Sunburst hack closely. It’s impossible to know who has the upper hand in cyber but IMO, it’s another thing that can quickly go sideways and create another step down for humanity.

      Some of our former coworkers have been working non-stop and they’re peeved that SolarWinds got breached and now they’re all paying for it with long hours. The holidays are usually fairly quiet in IT…


    • Its the diminishing returns problem and the fact that we set our sights too high that is the problem. Also, the only way we can really pay for all of the capital goods we create is with what I call promises, such as debt to be repaid later, or shares of stock, which are supposed to go up in value and pay dividends. This mode of payment is needed because the human labor component has to be paid, before the capital goods are put into service. The debt allows people to be paid, in advance of the benefit of their services.

      Anyhow, with diminishing returns, there is not enough payback at later dates. This later causes falling interest rates. Then it causes collapsing banks.

  10. FranktheYank says:

    Congratulations to our UK friends on cutting a deal. Hopefully you get out from under Merkels skirt and still get to trade. Its good to be friends with neighbors. It was a long road but in the end your decision was vindicated. God bless the UK!

    • Xabier says:

      Thank you, but as we have now lost the rights of freedom of movement, association and speech due to the measures imposed to ‘beat the virus’, there is nothing at all to celebrate here.

      I’d call it out pf the frying pan into the fire, at best.

      Nor in most other countries as far as one can tell. …….

    • Mirror on the wall says:

      Brexit had turned into a massive yawn after 4 and a half years.

      It became about nothing more than a trade deal, and frankly I could not care less about whether British capital gets to accumulate a bit more capital.

      What difference has Brexit made?

      Well we have lost our EU passports and the right to settle on the continent when we retire.

      I pointed out before the referendum that British capital (CBI) would simply get its workers from outside of Europe if not from the EU and that is exactly what it has arranged with TP. So, the population will be more diverse and I am cool with that; a people makes its choices and it accepts the consequences.

      Westminster may not blindly follow EU law now, but the demos gets zero say in law making anyway. The parties take no notice of the polls about what laws people want and it never becomes an issue in elections.

      I can see no democratic benefit from Brexit, and I could not less about any economic ‘benefit’ – which is doubtful anyway. An expansion of the economy simply means an expansion of the workforce. Productivity growth is collapsed anyway and GDP growth will make no difference to wages and living standards here. All it will mean is a larger population, pricier housing and more building on the countryside.

      The only good that I can see from Brexit is if it leads to the break up of the UK, which may well happen now.

      Btw. UK is ‘free’ from CU/ SM alignment, and zero tariffs have been agreed, but there will be penalties if UK diverges, so the ‘freedom’ is illusory. It all remains to be seen what will happen about that.

      • Bei Dawei says:

        If you still want to settle in Spain, Portugal, or Greece when you retire (and the world hasn’t ended yet), they have visas for that. You just have to apply for one. There are other countries beyond Europe you can try as well.

      • Erdles says:

        I assume you have not read the treaty yet?

  11. Ed says:

    In near by Woodstock NY an “art colony” the Manhattanites have moved up (100 miles north). They doubled the price of houses. It is a town with only two good restaurants (150 dollars a head for dinner). They are roughing it. They are installing in ground pools at $200,000 a pop. As far as food after the fall they may be disappointed. There are also three good music, food, and bar venues.

    • Ed says:

      They can get contact less delivery of food and alcohol no need to touch the dirty people.

    • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      “They doubled the price of houses.”

      locally, many for-sale houses seem to be sold within a few weeks.

      continuing my series of (in)famous New Year predictions, I think that the surging US housing market will continue all the way through 2021.

      the momentum looks too strong to end within a mere 365 days, though somewhat of a slowdown later in 2021 is likely.

  12. Herbie Ficklestein says:

    Covid-19 will also push 47 million more women and girls into poverty, according to an analysis commissioned by UN Women and UNDP, which estimates that around 435 million women and girls will be living on less than $1.90 a day by 2021. According to the report, the number of women and girls living in extreme poverty won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until 2030.
    “With the impact of Covid we’re seeing a very quick and dramatic retreat of the progress we’ve made on gender equality,” Julia Sánchez, secretary general of ActionAid, said, highlight issues where advocates have made strides in recent years, like in putting a stop to genital mutilation.
    “All of a sudden it’s like we’ve all turned our backs and we’re starting to walk in the opposite direction.”
    In an ActionAid survey of 1,219 women mostly aged 18 to 30 in urban areas of India, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa, only about 22% of those who were studying said they were able to continue their education remotely. But the survey was limited by the fact that young women were interviewed based on their willingness and availability to respond — only about 25% were currently in some form of education.
    Out of school and facing extreme economic insecurity, many of the girls surveyed said they were forced to take on a bigger burden of unpaid care and domestic work, found themselves unable to access life-saving sexual health and reproductive services — including birth control — and were more vulnerable to gender-based violence.
    Reported incidents of violence were particularly high in Kenya (76%), where young women surveyed repeatedly mentioned sexual abuse and early pregnancies. Echoing Bella’s story, several girls and young women who were out of school told surveyors they were forced to exchange sex for money out of financial desperation, ActionAid wrote.


    Seems the virus is causing more wrecked lives than the actual disease

    • In ages past, the primary role of women was as mothers. Men were valued for the physical strength. Women did grow a whole lot of food. But there was no equality of the two sexes, anywhere that I am aware of. African families were matriarchal, I understand.

      • José Madeira says:

        There’s actually emerging / increasing evidence that rigid sex roles were not nearly as ossified and immutable in the Paleolithic as they became in the age of agriculture and slavery.


      • Paul says:

        Women breeding incessantly is what go us in this mess in the first place.

      • Kowalainen says:

        Yes, one place. Scandinavia. It is no coincidence that scandinavian women is among the tallest and equal in the world.

        Can’t have a pretentious princess at home when the cattle and potato field need some tending. Yes, gotta have a real “Bondmora”.

        Women that can’t hold their own around men around is usually scorned at, the same for treating females badly. These behaviours goes back well before any current era ‘equality’ silliness. Most likely it arrived from the east together with lactose tolerance and the wheel.

        • info says:

          You cannot have an advanced civilization without patriarchal sex roles:

          It also coincides with agriculture too. It probably solidifies trends in sex roles making it more rigid than previously.

          • Kowalainen says:

            Yup, Scandinavia is still in the Stone Age. I’m writing this on a Stone tablet using Thor as the conveyor of IP packets using thunder and lightning as transport mechanism.

            Indeed, it takes the patriarchy of the Anglo Saxons to run a civilization. Oh, wait, no it doesn’t.

            Quiz time:

            Q: What is worse than feminism?
            A: Neo conservatives, by the skin of their teeth.

            • info says:

              You forget they became more advanced once they adopted Christianity and resulting sex roles.

              Now they will be backsliding.

            • info says:

              Compare the Ancient Med Civilizations and Scandinavia at the same time. Obvious who is more advanced.

            • I visited an archeological site from around 1000 C. E. in Norway. It was amazing how far behind it was.

            • Kowalainen says:

              No, they became less civilized.

              The clergy is nothing else than a perpetrator of sanctimony, decadence and stagnation. It led to overpopulation, perpetual wars, the Stockholm syndrome, first CB on earth, and Swedish institute as it got imported into pagan lands.

              What brought prosperity were the fossil fuels and IC/technology. It came from the UK and not the church. Christianity was a coincidence, a road block, until the Vikings showed up and cleaned out the cruft it had accumulated.

              Christianity is one of the leading causes of the predicament of overpopulation that we face today. Yes indeed the vile cult of children, sanctimony and hypocrisy spread by the clergy is everywhere.

              It’s good to have plenty of cannon fodder to send to a foreign land, dying for a cause nobody in the right mind would understand. Except if you have a few screws loose. Actually, plenty of screws loose.

              Want more? I sure can deliver. How about this:

              “The study concludes the artifacts buried with the woman are evidence she was a high-ranking professional warrior.”

              Still a neo conservative, a firm believer in the patriarchy? I’m sure you are until a warrior Viking woman shows up and kicks your decadent estrogen laden fat ass down from the orbit of grand delusion.🤣👍

            • info says:

              You are wrong. In terms of technology and architecture Scandinavia became more sophisticated under Christianity. The industrial revolution also occurred under Christianity.

              Of course this comes with drawbacks but it’s undeniable

            • info says:

              Sure a warrior Viking woman may kick my ass but she ain’t doing so fine against a Roman Legion. Boudicca got her ass handed to her handily.

    • Jeb says:

      Lol! “The World Will End Tomorrow! Women and Children Hardest Hit!”

      The men, I suppose, will be off drinking whiskey, snorting coke, and paying for hookers.

      Sorry, but SJW headliners like that are a big part of the “reality is missing” problem we are facing.

    • Robert Firth says:

      And how many men will it push into poverty? O, silly me, I forgot: we are expendable.

      • Herbie R Ficklestein says:

        Selling Nudes On OnlyFans Kept These Families Afloat This Year
        Feeling abandoned by the government, struggling mothers have flocked to online sex work to survive the coronavirus pandemic.
        By Jesselyn Cook

        It was late July, and Rachel, a 30-year-old single mother living in Minnesota, didn’t know what to do. She’d just been laid off from her job at a casino after being furloughed for months due to the pandemic. Her weekly COVID-19 relief benefit from the federal government had expired, and her state unemployment aid barely amounted to a third of what she’d been earning before the crisis, but she still needed to pay her rent and bills

        Perhaps these poor guys can get themselves in shape and set up a Game Only page.😜🤭🤑

        Oh, Gail and Everyone have a Super Nice BAU ,XMass Day!🎅🎅

      • Kowalainen says:

        Correction, we ALL are expendable. The grave yards are full of indispensable people. That is not a weakness, it is a strength.

        • Robert Firth says:

          Kowalainen, I agree entirely. Thank you once again for raising the level of discourse above our individual prejudices:

          “The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow’r,
          And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
          Awaits alike th’ inevitable hour.
          The paths of glory lead but to the grave.”

          (Thomas Grey, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard)

        • info says:

          Women are far less expendable than Men. Because women are the limiting factor of reproduction.

          Sperm is cheap. Eggs are expensive.

          • Kowalainen says:

            Funny how in the good olden days most women died during childbirth.

            Yes, the female were even more expendable than men, if you ask nature, I don’t particularly care what rapacious primates hallucinate surrounding the “roles” of the sexes. It’s about time to put aside that silly male chauvinism and gynocentrism. Go read some Calhoun and Briffault instead of peddling that neo conservatism.

            • info says:

              Reality doesn’t go away.

            • info says:

              Even Nature agrees:

              Hemizygous exposure ensures the bad genes get expressed in the male and the male end up dying off compared to the female.

              Human Men at least have the most Dignity and Authority under this balanced system of sex roles.

              Sure Men will always have to be responsible. But it is balanced with Dignity,Respect and Authority.

              Men are not to be tyrants nor weaklings but to be the epitome of Wisdom and Justice. Like Aragorn of Arathorn.

              We actually have one of the best lots of being Male compared to other species.

              Other males like the Drones of the Ants and the Termites are just expendable breeders and are a liability to the hive.

            • Interesting!

            • Kowalainen says:

              Nope, it arrives as a female Viking warrior giving a good hard kick in your estrogen soaked male scrotum attached to your excessive blob of mostly useless protoplasm.

              As the clergy of Britain surely experienced when “equality” arrived ashore with a male and female wrath.

            • info says:


              “Nope, it arrives as a female Viking warrior giving a good hard kick in your estrogen soaked male scrotum attached to your excessive blob of mostly useless protoplasm.

              As the clergy of Britain surely experienced when “equality” arrived ashore with a male and female wrath.”

              Alfred the Great and William the Conquerer would like a word with you.

            • info says:

              That “Viking Equality” got curbstomped by William the Conqueror and Alfred the Great.

    • info says:

      The only way out is to marry a good man who would provide for them. And she will have to raise his children and be faithful to him.

      • Slow Paul says:

        Not picking sides here, but IMO there is a problem with both the lack of “good men” (ability to provide weakened due to collapse), and the lack of “good women” (culture of excess which tells you that the grass is greener on the other side).

        • Kowalainen says:

          How about if I told you that you are right and that the socialist engineers designed the system that way to enable the consumerist bonanza.

          They must be oh so happy now. Depletion kicking in hard with no end in sight. I suppose I don’t need to tell you about the grand delusion of fusion power, ignoring LTG and obsessing over hallucinated symbols of wealth.

          I guess you are well past that into the land of reality where black pills grow on the trees of despair.

      • Sheila chambers says:

        I would expect that most of those women thought they had married a good, reliable MAN, however sometimes they are deceived or there were other reasons their marrage didn’t work out & what about those women who got pregnant without a reliable man to support them?

        Some women even deliberately get pregnant in the foolish belief that the guy who “did them” will now have to marry them, WRONG, there is nothing to prevent them from just walking away & telling her it’s YOUR BABY not mine. Some girls & women are incredabley foolish or even just dumb.

        Some of the dumb ones who keep getting pregnant without a partner need to get “fixed”.

        • info says:

          Exactly that’s why Fathers get involved in helping their daughters find good Men.

          Women without Fathers or Father figures don’t do so well.

          • Kowalainen says:

            Look, there are _no_ pops in IC, just mindless, overweight, pseudo “male” drones following the dictates of the sanctimonious hypocrisy financed by the socialist engineers of infinite growth on a finite planet.

            Sorry to break the illusion. There’s no going back to some imagined utopia of neo conservatism. That car got derailed an awful long time ago, together with that awfulness of neo liberalism and feminism.

            Your choices are:

            1. No choice

            Choose wisely.

            • info says:

              “Sorry to break the illusion. There’s no going back to some imagined utopia of neo conservatism.”

              I am sure so many said the same thing when the Roman Empire was dissolute and collapsing.

              There is always a comeback. Its actually you ideal of equality that is the utopia.

  13. mttb@pm.me says:

    this article kind of nuances the title of this blog: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0065266020300092?via%3Dihub

    Perhaps we are more connected to the rest of the universe than we assume. Some researchers think so. And after the wet market, the bats, and the lab, they put on the table a new hypothesis on the virus: space! Imagine his ironic if it had hitched a ride on Elon’s rocket!

  14. Minority Of One says:

    Another interesting video from Neil McCoy-Ward’s. It is the first of three videos reviewing 6 personal diaries from the Great Depression era in the USA. Neil suggests, and I am inclined to agree, that history repeats itself, and by looking in some detail at the contents of a range of diaries from the Great Depression era, we can get a glimpse of what is in store for us in the coming months and years. It is a truly grim history. For example:

    75% of working people (the context is not explained) were working part-time, 25% fulltime
    Salaries/ wages dropped at least 25%, on average about 50%
    Property prices dropped by over 50%
    Many people were homeless despite many empty properties available. No money, no house or apartment.
    Many people were starving despite plenty of food. Problem was, no matter how low food prices got, with no money a lot of people could not afford any food (just like in the Third World). Farmers were paid by the government to kill and bury their livestock, and plough their crops back into the soil, to try and raise prices, while people starved.
    etc. etc.

    The review is not perfect, but Neil has done the best he can to cram a lot of info into 25 minutes or so. I think gives a hint of what is coming our way sometime next year.

    Does This 90 Year-Old Diary Predict The Next DEPRESSION?!

  15. Ed says:

    Regardless on how it started I see the pandemic being used to get to the 500 million called for on the Guide Stones. Alpha test 1/1000, pass 2 5/100, pass 3 40/100, pass 4 60/100, pass 5 80/100, done. All done out of sight every one at home dying quietly. At three years per pass we will be in the promised land by 2033.

  16. Minority Of One says:

    Just for something different, did anyone else see the irony in Trump behaving more like a Democrat than the Democrats, when he raised the lockdown allowance to ordinary US citizens from $600 to $2000 (I write this as a Brit, maybe natives feel differently)?

    Is it possible that some voters are wondering if they made a mistake voting for someone who behaves like he is at an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s?

  17. hkeithhenson says:

    Gail, you paint a bleak picture of the future.

    IF there are no scientific/engineering advances, I would fully agree with you.

    But there are advances. One of the most impressive this year is AlphaFold. Trained on the 170,000 proteins where we know the shape, it is able to closely predict the shape a protein folds into from the amino acid sequence. Most of the people in biology research think it will double or more the rate of progress in such matters as increasing the efficiency of photosynthesis (now at a few percent).

    Another big advance is what SpaceX is doing. Musk doesn’t like power satellites, but what he is doing will get the transport cost down to where that energy source could be economical.

    A surprise to me is how far and how fast the cost of PV power in the mid east has fallen. I know of PPAs down to 1.35 cents per kWh and have heard rumor that the next project is going to fall under a cent per kWh. I have run a rough analysis of making synthetic oil from mid east power, CO2 out of the atmosphere and hydrogen from water. It looks like the cost to produce would be around $50/bbl. it would take about 1/3rd of the Sahara desert to replace all the oil we now use.

    Another is how far the cost of batteries has fallen. Something which just occurred to me and should have better efficiency than making oil would be to fill supertanker ships with batteries and deliver the power.that way. The efficiency should be better than using the energy to make oil. I might run the numbers and post here.

    Your points on energy and water are correct. It would certainly be a big job, but recharging aquifers from Mississippi floods is entirely possible. If we can get cheap enough energy, we can even make fresh water from salt water.

    Point being that we could have a bright future if we work at it.

    One point about population growth is that it seems to be not far from a peak. Consider Japan, and even Iran has reached replacement levels.

    Not trying to be an unreasonable optimist, am actually rather pessimistic about the US, more optimistic about China.

    • José Madeira says:

      “… it would take about 1/3rd of the Sahara desert to replace all the oil we now use.”
      Do you have the foggiest notion of how big the Sahara desert is?
      And if you think we can make this transition effectively, check out his now-classic analysis:


      • hkeithhenson says:

        José, please think about it for a few seconds. I put up a number. I am a retired engineer. Engineers _don’t_ put up numbers without being able to back them up. (They may be wrong, but are always willing to correct what they have done if someone shows them they made an error.)

        The harder part was figuring out how much area it would take for existing PV to power the CO2 absorbers and hydrogen electrolizers to feed an existing (Sasol) 34,000 bbl per day synthetic fuel plant. Rough numbers, it takes about 3 MWh of hydrogen to make a bbl of fuel.

        Peak sunlight is around 1000 W/n^2 or a GW/km^2. Current efficiency is around 23% and over a day the output is about 25% of nameplate capacity (in the mid east). That makes the average output per square km around 58 MW

        So a square km of desert PV feeding a synthetic oil plant would make about 19 bbl of synthetic fuel an hour or roughly 167,000 bbl/year per square km.

        The current yearly world production of oil is around 26 billion bbls. To replace it all would require ~156,000 km^2 of desert. The Sahara being 4,619,260 km2 that turns out to be a little over 3%, which is close to 1/10 of what I calculated last November. Sure enough, I made an error which showed up when I made worked out this post by a different method.


        Good thing engineers don’t mind someone pointing out their errors or causing them to take another look.


        • Lidia17 says:

          I don’t see in your calculations where the diesel required to mine and transport the coal needed to make the synfuel comes in. Nor how much FF it will take to create the solar panels and the rest of the plant, the factory, the concrete, mining the copper and other metals and minerals, fusing silica perfectly, etc.

          Eg., https://sunweber.blogspot.com/2017/07/furnaces-of-industry_14.html

          34,000 bbl of synfuel out … how much coal and other FF in on an energy basis (not a money basis)?

          Your link talks about current or perhaps-somewhat-recent monetary cost, not energetical cost. And who is going to *maintain* solar panels across 1/3 of the Sahara Desert? The abrasion damage from blowing sand alone would be crippling.

          You don’t seem to understand at all time’s (entropy’s) arrow.

          Germany used synfuel during WWII at a net energetical cost because they had no other choice if they wanted to be mobile in war. Outside of war and the transport of food or fuel, mobility is discretionary. All the currently cheap/subsidized FF inputs in the synfuel/hydrogen game are going away, though, for reasons. Which is kind of the point of this blog.

          As with corn ethanol, I can’t see how solar-powered coal-to-liquid fuel isn’t anything but a quicker road to ruin. No doubt some of these crazy plants will be built (or half-built and abandoned) if only because it’ll be the “best” and quickest way to waste energy and break down existing gradients.

          3MWh of hydrogen? What does that even mean?

          To produce hydrogen by electrolysis, 39.4 kWh of input power is required to produce one kg of hydrogen, if the electrolysis process is 100% efficient.

          Hydrogen has an energy density of 39 kWh/kg..

          If at all a feasible technology (far from certain), hydrogen as “fuel” is at best only a sort of battery. You expend energy to make hydrogen, and then you try to burn the hydrogen to get *some* of that energy back.

          It’s all ever only a battery.

          Even a tree is a battery.

          • hkeithhenson says:

            “I don’t see in your calculations where the diesel required to mine and transport the coal needed to make the synfuel comes in.”

            No coal. This proposes to use air capture CO2 for the carbon in the fuel. The cost details are in the power satellite economics post above. Based on work from MIT.

            “To produce hydrogen by electrolysis, 39.4 kWh of input power is required to produce one kg of hydrogen, if the electrolysis process is 100% efficient.”

            The efficiency lost brings up the energy cost to about 50 kWh/kg or 50 MWh/ton of hydrogen. It takes about 3MWh to make enough hydrogen for a bbl of oil.

            This back of the envelope analysis was the result of the MIT article on CO2 capture and the reports of power purchase agreements in the mid east which were about half the cost estimates for solar power satellites.

            • JesseJames says:

              Did MITs ivory tower calculation consider,
              – power degradation of 1% per year of the solar panels and their replacement interval (along with replacement cost)
              – the inherently higher cost of shipping hydrogen to the points of use around the world. Hydrogen must be packaged in very heavy and bulky containers to combat its propensity to escape and leak. Additionally, it will require greater safety measures.
              – the inevitable increased frequency of undesired explosions (and fires) at producing plants, which statistically will occur more often than presently occur with FF, and will be more destructive when they do occur, due to the inherently greater explosive potential of hydrogen.
              – the heat output of the fuel burning to create the hydrogen production process.
              – the cost of investment

              Scientific articles are sometimes “cheap science” depending on the actual engineering and implementation experience of the scientists. You get kudos for a hopeful article, and pad your resume, and maybe even get to design the thing.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              > Did MITs ivory tower calculation consider,
              – power degradation of 1% per year of the solar panels and their replacement interval (along with replacement cost)

              No. The MIT work was about CO2 capture, not PV.

              > – the inherently higher cost of shipping hydrogen to the points of use around the world. Hydrogen must be packaged in very heavy and bulky containers to combat its propensity to escape and leak. Additionally, it will require greater safety measures.

              Not at all. The point of the exercise was to make synthetic oil which can be shipped and stored just like we do with oil now.

              > – the inevitable increased frequency of undesired explosions (and fires) at producing plants, which statistically will occur more often than presently occur with FF, and will be more destructive when they do occur, due to the inherently greater explosive potential of hydrogen.

              Do you have any evidence that the Sasol plant in Qatar (which uses this process and has run for 13 years) has had fires?

              > – the heat output of the fuel burning to create the hydrogen production process.

              Please explain why you need fires?

              > – the cost of investment

              No again, this was my work. However, the capital cost of the plant (about a billion dollars) divided by the production come in at around $10/bbl.

              Was I so unclear that you didn’t comprehend?

          • Robert Firth says:

            Thank you, Lidia. I was taking the day off OFW, but would have had the same thought, and probably expressed it far less well.

            There engineers are fooling themselves. They calculate running cost, but ignore life cycle cost (mining of raw materials, production, transport to site, deployment, ongoing maintenance, decommissioning., …) They also ignore most externalities, which for “alternative energy” alone make the project prohibitive. And minimise also the cost created by “loss of function” of the land squandered by the deployment. And if you think the Sahara has no function, read some climate history.

            The whole thing is an exercise in quantified hopium.

        • if by some stretch of the imagination the Sahara – to- oil fantasy became reality, we would still have the same problem:

          muslim oil feeding the lifestyle of the western infidels.

          the western infidels would use the oil to build weapons, which they would supply to the Saharan muslims to suppress their own peoples, in order to keep their gold plated lifestyles viable

          the peoples on the fringes of the saharan bonanza would be violently upset at being left out and start lobbing rockets into the Sahara energy producing complex. (think 30m angry Saudis for a start.)

        • Herbie R Ficklestein says:

          But one of the drawbacks is that when the panels get too hot their efficiency drops. This isn’t ideal in a part of the world where summer temperatures can easily exceed 45℃ in the shade, and given that demand for energy for air conditioning is strongest during the hottest parts of the day. Another problem is that sand storms could cover the panels, further reducing their efficiency.

          Both technologies might need some amount of water to clean the mirrors and panels depending on the weather, which also makes water an important factor to consider.

          From the Conversation.com

          • hkeithhenson says:

            “But one of the drawbacks is that when the panels get too hot their efficiency drops.”

            That was out of the scope of my rough analysis. It took off from a power purchase agreement for something like 900 MW at 1.69 cents per kWh and a report from MIT about a new kind of way to capture CO2. You can find the references in the original analysis.

            The point is that there *are* uses for PV power where you can tolerate the intermittency.

            Is it worth the trouble to get carbon neutral fuel at about the same price as natural oil?

    • JesseJames says:

      How will the cost of SpaceX transport fare when FF are scarce and 10x the price they are today?

      • Ed says:

        This iis an excellent question. How big a PV array would Elon need to fuel one Starship per day? How much would it cost to install? Keith any guesses?

        • hkeithhenson says:

          Power satellites repay all the energy needed to fabricate the parts and put them in orbit in 2-3 months. At least this was the analysis using the Skylon rocket plane. SpaceX rockets should be about the same.

      • Perhaps the only ones with any purchasing power will be Elon Musk and his cronies. It won’t matter if oil is $1 million per barrel, because they can buy it. No one else will have funds to buy anything; they will be starving.

        Actually, I am afraid that without enough buyers, it will not be possible to keep oil production, refineries and pipelines operating. No one will have oil, not even Elon Musk.

    • Humanity is doomed unless they agree to build your power satellite

      • I am afraid it is not my power satellite. I just tell the power satellite people the hurdles they are up against.

      • Ed says:

        I have been a fan of SPS since the 80s. I attended several Space Studies conferences on space manufacturing in the 800s and 90s. I agree it would be a good solution to kicing the can 100 years down the road.

    • foggiestidea says:

      “Indians, schmindians!”
      ― George Armstrong Custer

    • lookatthebrightside says:

      “Not trying to be an unreasonable optimist, am actually rather pessimistic about the US, more optimistic about China.”

      So the preceding sentence was directed at chinese citizens?

      “Point being that we could have a bright future if we work at it.”

    • Robert Firth says:

      hkeith, we already get fresh water from salt water at zero energy cost. It’s called “rain”. We just need to get smart enough to stop building tourist resorts in deserts.

    • Slow Paul says:

      Batteries and panels may be cheap at the margin, but wouldn’t the cost increase many times per unit if we would produce that many panels and batteries? And placing them in a hostile desert environment far from consumers (core countries)?

      • All of these devices are dealing with the same problem: The commodity prices for the materials that make them are far too low. Production cannot keep up, because workers cannot make a living wage extraction the materials needed to make the batteries and at the same time, the buyers of the solar panels and batteries afford to buy the finished goods. It is simply not possible to make these hope-for devices.

  18. huffnpuff says:

    5000 page stimulus bill. Porkarama. Democracy is like 5000 monarchies each working autonomously. Government works only if it surfs on natural flows. Were surfing without a ocean now. The politicians think they are still hanging five. Look at me Suzy! Suzy is ODed on fent living under the overpass.

  19. Yoshua says:

    Bloombergs commodity price index confirms the breakdown of the dollar.


    Although it’s too early to say that the trend is broken for good, it still shows that we have reached a breaking point.

    Merry Christmas to all!

    • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      Merry Christmas!

      your EUR/USD chart was better at 27 years long.

      I suspect this commodity index would show a similar cycle, with a trough circa 2001 and a peak circa 2008, and now it is somewhat near the middle of the range.

  20. Yoshua says:

    Thanks for the new great article Gail!

    The world has entered a new phase. It was the dollar that broke down.


    • Herbie R Ficklestein says:

      Republicans like to mock Modern Monetary Theory — the idea that government can print money with impunity, that government can spend whatever it wants without the need to tax. Modern Monetary Theory is basically the “Dick Cheney ‘deficits don’t matter’ crowd” trussed up with a new fancy title.

      Most Republican rightly lampoon this quackery, that is, when they’re not practicing the quackery themselves. Today, many of these same Republicans will vote for a bill that makes Modern Monetary Theory look like child’s play in comparison.

      The monster spending bill presented today is not just a ‘deficits don’t matter disaster,’ it is everything Republicans say they don’t believe in

      …..How bad is our fiscal situation?

      Well, the federal government brought in $3.3 trillion in revenue last year and spent $6.6 trillion for a record-setting $3.3 trillion deficit. If you are looking for more COVID bailout money, we don’t have any. The coffers are bare. We have no rainy-day fund. We have no savings account. Congress has spent all of the money. Congress spent all of the money a long time ago.

      From The Hill.com

      Seems reality eventually 🤔 catches up😘in the end. No free lunch, at least until the bill comes around.

      • Ed says:

        It was deficit spending last year and it will be deficit spending this year even bigger. It will never stop. At some point the dollar will become worthless. Biden needs to bail out all democrat states and cities so MUCH BIGGER deficit, five trillion in 2021?

      • economyfirst says:

        Ah young padwan. Dont forget to add the fed balance sheet into the pot! As impressively unsustainable as the USA debt is the junk bonds and miscellaneous financial debauchery like mortgage backed securities that the Fed bought this year is simply … I struggle for an adjective… Lets say spectacular!
        Along with loans to such hemorrhages like the airlines and … The list goes on. The 2020 too big to fail list expanded to things we never would have thought needed to go on lifes support.
        Luckily Fed debt cancels out USA government debt!
        (thinking of becoming a economist thats my signature line whadda ya think?)

    • So the Euro is buying more than we would expect it to, relative to the dollar. It would seem that all of the stimulus planned for the US is not looked on favorably by the markets.

      • In other words, the price of oil will be rising because of the falling dollar, as more stimulus is added. The added debt won’t really work as hoped because of the falling dollar problem.

        Producers of oil will be helped by the falling dollar, however.

        • Sheila chambers says:

          Yep, just throwing more $$$ at the problem will not divie up more resources & that’s what we are short of.
          It’s also like those brains who can tell us exactly how much it will cost to pave the Sahara desert with solar panels but has no idea where the raw materials & energy to do that will come from & also what about the countries who’s LAND they want to build those solar panels on, don’t they have a say?
          What if they want Europe to pay RENT on that land? Or will the Empire rise again to just TAKE the land they need for that project?
          Money is only a demand for resources, it has no power to produce those resources.

    • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      “The world has entered a new phase. It was the dollar that broke down.”

      the Euro was much lower in 2001, and much higher in 2008.

      I’m sure that is called a cycle.

      now EUR/USD is near the midpoint of trough and peak.

      the world has bigger problems.

  21. Mirror on the wall says:

    This year looks set to be remembered in UK also as the year of Boris’ deal. TP and EU are on the brink of rushing through a Brexit deal.

    After years of ‘deadlines’ and delays, as tactics, Boris now wants to give parliament a single day next week to ratify his as yet unknown 2000 page deal.

    Westminster and Brussels are to be recalled from their Christmas breaks. MEPs complain that they will be under pressure to endorse the deal without proper scrutiny either on a single day or else to ratify it next year if has already come into ‘provisional effect’.

    The plan was clearly to remove democratic scrutiny from the parliaments of a last minute deal by doing over Christmas with days to go.

    We cannot expect a confirmatory referendum on the deal but it would have been nice to at least have had some parliamentary scrutiny. LP is liable to abstain or to vote for any deal, for purely partisan reasons. Westminster has not functioned as proper parliamentary forum of scrutiny. This is government by an unchecked clique that has deliberately removed scrutiny from the process.


    • fish is important

      this is the queue today at the local fresh fish shop


      • Mirror on the wall says:

        Yes, I eat haddock or cod at breakfast most days and there never seems to have been any shortage.

        It is not clear that much will change at the fish shops either way.

        “The majority of fish eaten in the UK is imported. Some 83% of the cod consumed in the UK comes from abroad, alongside 58% of its haddock. The UK catch is 5% cod and 7% haddock, while the UK fleet catches a lot of herring, 93% of which is exported, mostly to Norway and the Netherlands.

        “Overall, the UK imports 70% of the fish it eats and exports 80% of what it catches. Under the CFP, the UK has most of the quotas for haddock and decent quotas for cod.”

        Most of the UK catch is licenced to foreign trawler companies anyway.

        • economyfirst says:

          Yum! Envious. Fish n chips every day. It pays to be a island dweller. Breakfast of champions.

  22. Sergey says:

    Bacteria in vitro is a well-researched topic. Yes, this is a simplification, but the principle is very similar, there is input data – environment of existence, amount of food (energy) in this environment. And there are 4 stages of development, which are proven and reproducible, regardless of the type of bacteria.
    1) Lag phase, where adaptation to the environment take place. Optimization of energy consumption of the living environment.
    Humans had this phase, adapting to consume fossil fuels (before 1900 year)
    2) Exponential phase, where bacteries are growing exponentially, consuming all possible energy.
    Humans are at the end of this phase right now (1900 – 2020)
    3) Stationary phase. Where there is not much energy to grow. The total number of born & dead are equals. In the wild bacteria spend most of their lifetime in the stationary phase.
    I believe humans have yet to live in this phase.
    4) Death phase. Where there is not much energy to sustain current number of bacteria. So number of bacteria falls even below 1st (lag) phase.

    Gail predicts this 4th phase for humans, completely ignoring 3rd (stationary) phase. But mother nature tells us – it is exists. At least for bacteria, and it is proven.

    • Jason says:

      Humans are not bacteria. Civilization decoupled us from mother nature. We still rely on mother nature, but there is a layer in between. This is caused by our unusual brains. This layer gave us a big boost up, like a step ladder. Its existence relies on continuous growth of energy, like a hurricane. Take this growth away and the ladder dissolves, and we fall.

      • Sergey says:

        Indeed humans are not bacteria, but everybody should remember what bacteria is the far-parent for every mammal on this planet, include human. And we humans so decoupled with mother nature, so don’t care what happens outside our house. It’ll cost.

      • we haven’t been decoupled from Mother Nature

        • Jason says:

          That is why I stated that we rely on mother nature with a layer in between. Analogies help one to understand, but with it one loses some information and some truth. Heidegger explains this and mirror on the wall can further discuss his views on truth.

    • Jason says:

      Another analogy: Bacteria in a petri dish is like a balloon hooked up to an air source. The flow of air is controlled by the pressure in the balloon. The balloon can fill up nicely, but as the pressure gets close to the limit, the flow of air decreases until the loss of air from the balloon, since the balloon’s surface is slightly permeable in this example, matches the incoming flow. Now the air is not infinite, it comes from a tank, so as the tank runs out of gas, the balloon deflates until flat. Now what technology has done, is created small holes throughout the surface of the balloon. This allows the balloon to expand well past its normal bursting point, but also increases the escaping air quantity. This is not linear but exponential, so as it expands, we need exponentially more air incoming to keep it at a certain volume. Once the tank runs out of a certain amount it can no longer provide the inflow needed, and in fact because there was no feedback to slow the air flow, it runs out of air much quicker. Also, because of the holes in the balloon, the balloon deflates much faster than if it were a normal balloon, thus a much faster time to homeostasis, which is a flat balloon with lots of holes in it.

    • In the developed countries as well as the members of the former Soviet Union, population has plateaued. There still is a lot of growth in Africa and parts of Asia (Iraq, quite a few Moslem or oil countries).

  23. MG says:

    When the human population grows, it releases CO2 like bacteria in the fermentation process. That is why the uncontrolled growth of the human population works on the same principle as cancer.

    As the cancer cells have deformed mitochondria, they get energy in a different way than the healthy ones. The mitochondria of the human population produce CO2 in the process of burning, i.e. oxidation.

    When the human population starts to use energy that is not based on the oxidation process, it stops growing.

    That is why the prediction of the population growth after the collapse in the Limits to Growth was faulty: the production of pollution in the form of the CO2 is a byproduct of population growth. It is not possible to decouple these two items and predict the simultaneous fall of the pollution (CO2) and the growth of the human population.

    • MG says:

      But the population growth has got its limits. The humans simply need sunlight.

      That is why the dark and damp areas like tropical forests are not very well suited for the human beings. Also that is why the buildings that do not provide enough sunlight are abandoned when possible:

      150-Year-Old Advice on Sunshine Being Good at Killing Bacteria Just Turned Out to Be True

      “If you’ve got a relative or friend who tells you letting sunshine into a home kills off germs, it’s time to congratulate them on their scientific insight – because a new study shows that sunlight is indeed effective at blitzing bacteria.”

  24. Dennis L. says:

    Interesting idea, even the job of street sweeper will change.

    Link to a robotic street sweeper, Trombia Free, doesn’t look like your father’s street sweeper.


    Gates is supporting work on molten batteries, the elites probably have a very good understanding of what is happening and access to the best experts in evaluating scenarios.

    Dennis L>

    • Sounds like an excellent idea, except solar batteries can’t fuel such devices

    • Lidia17 says:

      Street sweepers used to be able to collect the horse poop.

      When I lived in Italy (as recently as 8 years ago), the street sweepers still used hand-made brooms of twigs that looked like something out of a Grimm’s fairy tale. Probably the public unions kept them employed.

      I can’t imagine a city-sized Roomba as being anything particularly helpful going forward.

    • JMS says:

      Amaizing. It’s all we need to obtain, at last!, the clean new world we deserve.
      But to be really awesome and perfect the vehicle should be color of lettuce.
      Grey doesn’t do it IMHO

  25. Maxine Rogers says:

    Great article Gail,
    I just wish I could convince my family in the city to get out of Dodge while there is still time to adapt to country life. We are hoping to be in a little, forgotten backwater and escape notice.

    A lot of people think they are going to be able to finish their lives in the next 40 years without any inconvenience. I doubt they are correct. On the good side, we are seeing a lot of gardening of vegetables and people learning to bake their own bread.

    • Adapting to country life is not necessarily easy. We don’t have animals now to help work the fields. We don’t have the variety of seeds that were available years ago, so that something would come up, regardless of the weather. We don’t have the knowledge level for doing subsistence farming.

      • Xabier says:

        In fact, most innovation in agriculture seems aimed at making money for the tech sector and Big Ag, not at a wise adaptation to declining energy.

      • roger says:

        Many city and urban dwellers have a very romanticised view of self sufficient country life; “off the grid”. The truth is that the work is backbreaking and extremely unforgiving, involving long hours in the open. The life also requires skills and attitudes that are unknown to most urbanites. Add to that it is mind numbingly boring.
        No thank you, I want to make the cities work, I like my reliable electricity, pure water from the faucet, unseen waste treatment, take-outs, theaters, etc. I wouldn’t last a week at the life my Father in law had in rural Ireland in the 40s and 50s.

        • There needs to be a community of other people providing goods such as clothes/shoes and garden implements. It would help to have some limited medical care as well. A family cannot really exist based on their own efforts. Specialization works too well. Also, resources are not available locally. Any minor loss of production means the family would starve (or freeze).

        • Xabier says:

          Well, there is ‘ My Off-grid Tiny House’ Youtube fantasy land, where it is mostly about gathering a few sticks – spiritually, of course – in the woods to make a fire for one’s big mug of coffee and a vegan dinner, with a book to read afterwards, and the real thing.

          I watched a wonderful series of interviews with old people who had lived the real peasant life in the Pyrenees: sitting by a nice fire in a modern apartment, their faces fell when asked ‘What were the old times like?’ and they usually replied ‘Hard, very hard!’ or ‘Terrible!’

          Regular semi-starvation, typhus, TB, etc, were very common then,too. And getting shot by border police when smuggling from France to get some extra money…

          And now the people who have hung on in the villages have been screwed as their main markets, the restaurants in the city, have collapsed with the COVID lock-downs.

      • Herbie R Ficklestein says:

        The Automatic Earth just recently posted an article on this very topic of the constraints we now face in going back to a rural life…

        Excerpt from the it…
        A modest 1-story house. Picture 2 semis packed tight, +4 semis loose hay. For only three months. Weather and yield vary wildly by area and year but let’s say hay fields produce 3 tons per acre, so10 acres guarded hay in addition to 10 acres fenced summer pasture. What do we get for it? Hard to figure exactly but +2 gal/day/cow for these hardier breeds which varies wildly with shelter, season, and diet. 2 gallons milk = 2 pounds of cheese. It takes 1 year to raise beef, so 7,500lbs of hay = 1,200lb cow = 750lb beef.

        While you need 20 acres for the feed alone, you’ll also need crop rotation, a barn, a springhouse, a dairy, an implement shed, a repair garage, a human house and cellar, and because of humans on site to support the cows: a chicken coop, pigs to eat the leftover dairy, a smokehouse, a garden and orchard, as well as wood for heat. That’s 1 acre / face cord, so let’s say 20 acres for cows, 10 acres for crop rotation, 10 acres for wood, and 10 acres for the homestead, garden, and buildings. What is the common size of American farms from Cape Cod to Iowa? 50 acres. 20 hectares. How many people? 4-10/farm. 1-2 humans/acre.

        Why do I bring this up? It gives you a rough sense of transforming a suburban housing development back into the farm it came from. First: there’s no longer any forest. That means no boards, no firewood. We have new materials and oil too, so let’s not dwell on this. There is an enormous surplus of existing buildings. How many acres per house? Presently, it’s 1/5 acre. How many people per house? There are unimaginable difficulties answering this, but let’s say 2 people/house. That’s 10 people per acre.

        Good 🤠 reading…the simple life ain’t so simple

      • Minority Of One says:

        >>We don’t have the variety of seeds that were available years ago

        Here in the UK, there are agricultural charities whose aim is to keep old varieties of fruit and veg alive. You can buy the seeds. When we had our own allotment (community food growing area), that was the only type of seeds I bought. I am still hoping we can buy a small-holding in Aberdeenshire. Getting a bit late though.

        • Christopher says:

          I agree, the seeds are still available. Hardy animal races are probably much harder to find. For instance, some (maybe even all) cattle races used to have to endure starvation in the end of the winter quite often. I’ve read accounts where farmers, after a long winter, had to drag the animals out from the barn to help them reach the fresh grass of the spring. This was usually enough to get the animals revigorated.

          Letting animals starve is illegal today. The selection on cattle has been highly biased for fossile fuels…

  26. Sheila chambers says:

    If so many people are angry at our current situation, just wait until the decline of resources bites!
    Prices will rise, but there are limits as to how much prices can rise & if they don’t rise high enough to cover the costs of the resources, then they will become less available. Growing poverty will exacerbate this problem as poor people consume less in products & services leading to even more unemployment & more poverty in a self reinforcing downward spiral.

    EVs, solar panels & wind turbines are just another way to keep hope alive & PROFITS coming in from BURNING EVEN MORE OIL, COAL & NATURAL GAS, that’s why CO2 emissions keep rising.
    Why don’t people get it? we cannot replace declining resources with a resource dependent technology?
    In my area, resteraunts are closed, again, meetings are cancled, only places where superstions are taught are still open for business, the’re also called “super spreader sites”, rather like the W.H. under Trump.
    In many other areas, students are expected to learn via a computer on the web but many families can’t afford a computer or the fast internet connection. The poor don’t matter anyhow.

    The homeless & unemployed population keeps growing & Biden want’s open borders, do we really need or want more poor, needy people?
    Why do our RULERS keep pushing for even MORE GROWTH when GROWTH is our biggest problem? How can we get our rulers to accept that de growth is what we need.

    What I see us doing is struggling to keep growing, more illegals crossing the border expecting us to care for them while denying care for those already here legally. As the situation continues to deteriorate, I expect to see more violence, more cop shootings, more poverty & our borders becoming a deadly war zone.
    When people finally realize that “renewables”cannot save our way of life, the streets will be full of angry protestors & that will keep our militarized cops “busy”.

    • Herbie R Ficklestein says:

      The poor and Downtrodden are mostly forgotten…
      Greyhound said it’s operating less than half its normal bus routes during the pandemic, while revenues have fallen nearly 60 percent.
      “Greyhound has been immensely impacted by the effects of COVID-19,” the company said in a statement. “From temporary and permanent closures of routes to sudden workforce reductions, our ability to provide critical service to communities—especially those that are underserved and/or rural—has been reduced.”
      Industrywide, the service cuts are even deeper.
      “We see the industry operating at about 10 percent capacity,” said Peter Pantuso, president of the American Bus Association.
      …..Pantuso estimates that 85 percent of the 100,000 people who work in the bus industry have been laid off or furloughed — in most cases since March.
      It’s not just long-haul services like Greyhound that are limping. Traffic on commuter lines that ordinarily ferry workers to and from the suburbs has also dried up, since many people are working from home.
      Charter buses and specialty services are struggling as well.
      The Labor Department reported an 18 percent jump in intercity bus fares last month, even as overall inflation was tame.
      While bus travel is still cheaper than other options, the extra cost can be a hardship for many riders.
      “This is a mode of travel that caters to people often who can’t afford cars — that need to go at the least possible cost from point A to point B,” said Joe Schwieterman, a transportation expert who directs the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University. “If prices jump, it might be out of reach.”
      But while Congress has offered billions of dollars in financial aid to airlines and Amtrak, bus companies have been overlooked.
      New emergency aid passed by Congress this week provides help for airlines, though bus companies were largely overlooked.

      Because Politicians rarely, if ever, use a public bus

    • Mirror on the wall says:

      “Prices will rise, but there are limits as to how much prices can rise & if they don’t rise high enough to cover the costs of the resources, then they will become less available.”

      Likely there will have to be a socialisation of production and distribution to countervail the falling profitability of the essentials.

      We will all be adamant ‘socialists’ when we cannot personally afford what we need.

      It all depends how fast the decline takes place and how much time we have to reorganise things on the way ‘down’.

      If it is slower, then our ‘liberal democratic’ societies may have the ‘pleasure’ of making decisions about how to ‘manage’ population decline.

      “The homeless & unemployed population keeps growing & Biden want’s open borders, do we really need or want more poor, needy people?”

      Immigration to USA has settled at around 1.1 million legal entrants per year and around 100,000 illegal entrants per year, regardless of whether DP, RP or Trump is in power. It was actually lower under Obama both times than under GW Bush or Trump.

      Illegal immigration to USA fell from 850,000 in 2006 to under 100,000 by 2014, after which it flatlined – before Trump. There has been a net outflow of illegal migrants from the USA since 2008. The two parties ‘moral posture’ over migration to set their ‘brand’ image and to split the votes between them.

    • Dana says:

      More “growth” means more demand. Landlords love demand. So do govts that rely on taxation.

      • not possible to pay increased rent if tenants do not have the necessary energy inputs to support it

        so house prices and rents must decline

        • huffnpuff says:

          Low house prices need inventory. If banks foreclose and don’t liquidate no inventory hits the market. All capital requirements suspended. Zero incentive for banks to take short sales. Massive incentive to keep on books at full price.

          There are no tenants. There are no mortgage holders. This about loose and easy capital and has been for a long time. There is zero faith in the organic economy. Organic economy is as real as Santa Klaus.

          Loose and east capital stopped paying attention to Santa Klaus a long time ago.

          Whats that pension fund going to do buy CDs?

          • Interesting point! If no one sells, then “extend the loan and pretend repayment can occur” can continue.

          • Xabier says:

            Oh but Santa Klaus Schwab has lots of presents for his friends this year: the digitalised Re-set is well underway and authoritarian and repressive restrictions are in place everywhere.

          • As in Klaus Schwab, who wants to seize everyone’s properties?

            • Bei Dawei says:

              Whatever happened to the Trilateral Commission? I miss them.

            • Kowalainen says:

              Stalin? The CCP?

              Gee, I wonder what the owners must think of getting their and their buddies properties seized by Commie Klaus.

              The MIC must be especially happy with a Calhounian world Soylent GND guvmint. Perpetual peace, stagnation and ultimately inevitable decadence.

              And the artisanry, yes, indeed, they for sure would like to slave away and watch the pretentious faces and lies of and from sanctimony seize their meager assets, so that they can perpetually wine and dine, cheat and steal assets they don’t deserve.

              My guess is that the holy trinity of IC wouldn’t be too pleased about being the errand boys of Commie Klaus and cronies.

          • Kowalainen says:

            Yup, the useless infrastructure (housing, roads, etc) will be left to rot, with a make believe value associated to them. It is the NINJA loans of tomorrow. Garbage digits and representations of wealth that floats around in the system to please rapacious primates confusing numbers with prosperity.

  27. Isaac Pin says:

    This is your best post in a while Gail, I thought they were getting a bit repetitive. We are in need of smart people to look for new solutions, even if they will ultimately create more diminishing returns. Btw, how are things where you are, if you don’t mind me asking?

    • Fairly normal: restaurants, shops, gyms, beauty salons open. I expect bars are too, but I don’t visit bars. Most of the schools have in person classes. Enrollment at the university where my husband teaches is up (8% over fall of 2019?) because students want to go a university with in person classes. COVID cases are now up, but deaths are still comparatively low.

      • Xabier says:

        Ugo Bard wrote a good post about how disastrous online classes have been at his university in Florence – there seems to be no point in enrolling.

        The students here have mostly just looked miserable and stressed, and one can see them tear off their masks when they get out of the college precints where they are mandatory.

        Supplies of decent food to those forced to isolate in their tiny rooms has also been a problem.

        But as an elite university, the brand, as it were, still seems worth getting into debt for: for the time-being at least.

  28. brucecodding says:

    Thank you Gail. Very thought provoking as usual. Your points serve as background for our personal portfolio investing, which includes the energy sector.

    • LWA says:

      I’m curious, how would a portfolio that incorporates the points made by Gail look like?

    • It looks like the US Dollar is falling, and the price of oil will be rising, in US dollars. This will hurt the US economy, but help Europe and the oil producers. It may keep oil producers from collapsing in the near term, which would be a plus.

  29. Mike Roberts says:

    Nice. And it’s good that you kind of acknowledge the problem with CO2 emitted from burning fossil fuels. It’s true that there isn’t a suitable alternative if we want to continue doing what we’re doing which ensures that a lot of the reserves will be burned, leading to more likelihood of catastrophic climate change.

    • The big issue is that without fossil fuels, the vast majority of us are likely dead. We will freeze in winter, because we cannot heat our homes, among other things. People in warm climates will do better.

      • Curt Kurschus says:

        Without fossil fuels, thousands of millions around the world die of starvation, violence among the starving desperate billions fighting over food, and diseases previously treatable with pharmaceuticals that are no longer available.

      • Mirror on the wall says:

        An extra two degrees would be very welcome in northern climes. It is easy to virtue-signal about the climate when one and one’s significant ones are not freezing to death. I would not fancy going through a winter on Britain without fossil fuels.

        Quite possibly the mass migration would be southward like that out of Europe during the last glacial maximum. Frankly we are no longer adapted, let alone accustomed, to the hardier, colder way of pre-FF life. Likely a better adapted remnant will inhabit the north.

        And we had to go and cancel our EU passports – though I doubt that they will have much truck when the time comes. Likely peoples will be fighting their way to more hospitable areas. Someone should make a TV series to explore the various themes.

        • the last glacial maximum was pre and post dated by thousands of years.

          the total human population was maybe a million or two

          so as the climate got colder, the southward shift, as an average, could be measured in ‘yards per year’.
          Basically their motivation would have been following their mobile energy support systems, not retreating from the colder weather. (animals sense climate change better than we do)

          there was no mass migration south.

          They had no infrastructure to worry about
          Wealth on our terms did not exist

          This time it’s very different.

          CC has hit us in little more than century.

          There’s 8 billion of us. Our energy-support systems are now fixed, our cities are now fixed, we cannot support ourselves ‘outside’. our wealth is fixed.

          Our incursions into animal territory has released diseases we cannot control without those energy-support systems.

          an extra 2 degrees in the north would mean a swathe of fresh desert in southern Europe, let alone the Sahara—worth thinking about.
          the Sahara itself would be uninhabitable on any terms

          • JesseJames says:

            Norm, parts of the Sahara might become the new breadbasket of the world, as global rain patterns shift, heading into the new mini ice age. An enterprising OFW reader might encourage his or her children to move to and obtain citizenship in Morocco, and then buy a piece of now worthless desert land…..could pay off big time.

          • Mirror on the wall says:

            It was an analogy. The southward migration did not happen overnight and I did not say that it did. Be assured, no one is suggesting this will be identical to LGM. Thanks, though.

            I do not really need to ‘think about’ the Sahara too deeply as I do not live there and I have no control over what happens. Thanks, again.

        • Herbie R Ficklestein says:

          The late professor of geography at Yale University Ellsworth Huntington focused on the fact that many large countries in the past either prospered or perished depending on how advantageous or disadvantageous climate conditions were. Indeed, climate change was the cause of the prosperity or collapse of civilizations. For example, the Mesopotamia civilization, which is the first civilization in human history. As city states, such as Uruk founded by Sumer, began to emerge, a civilization was born and the region was unified by the Akkadian Empire. However, a severe drought continued for about 300 years from 2200 B.C. with the temperature dropping by two degrees Celsius. A drought and an average temperature drop of two degrees Celsius are critical to the growth of crops. Once its economy collapsed, the Akkadian Empire had no choice but to disappear into the mists of history.

          Perhaps it will and perhaps it won’t


          • If economies are already “at the edge,” climate change, or a spell of bad weather, or an epidemic can push them over the edge.

          • Mike Roberts says:

            With the rate of climate change currently, there is no comparison to be made with other eras in human civilisation.

            As per the responses from Gail and others in this thread, it’s clear that fossil fuel use is unlikely to decline because of voluntary demand drop. Consequently, climate change will continue to worsen and may even follow some of the model runs that Gail rails against, at least for long enough to ensure catastrophe. In the end, it doesn’t really matter what we want if we continue to pour greenhouse gases into the atmosphere; if we need fossil fuels to continue as we are we are assured of not meeting that goal at some point in the future, whether because of unaffordable energy, peak fossil fuels (and other resources) or catastrophic climate change and environmental degradation.

            This year might give us a hint as it could end up being the warmest year on record despite having a La Nina cooling the planet a little. Even if it’s not the warmest, it will cement the upward underlying trend with at least the second warmest on record.

            • Loss of airplane contrails and loss of dimming effect of coal smog no doubt helped make this last year extra warm. It didn’t help CO2 levels yet, because of the big lag.

        • InAlaska says:

          It is very warm here now. Much easier to live and farm here than it was 10 20 years ago

      • info says:

        That’s why a slow decline of fossil fuels would be a best scenario for us. If world oil supplies declined by 10-100 per day from its peak and maintains the same pace.

        Many more will have a chance of getting out alive.

        • It is hard to see how a slow decline in fossil fuels can take place. Of course, this is what Peak Oilers have imagined. Perhaps if which country (or countries) are ahead keeps changing, it can keep parts of the world economy going for quite a while, and avoid and overnight collapse in fossil fuel production.

      • MrRobato says:

        I have been playing with heating with photovoltaic s dumping their DC straight into a resistance load to heat with, There just isnt enough sun energy in nov dec jan feb. Insulation helps. Small spaces helps. I use about 2 million BTU a winter, Passive solar, small space, high R.

        PVs DC straight into a water hearer for bathing makes more sense as the annual energy can be used. It is not without considerable drawbacks. PVs are current sources not voltage sources. This requires impedance matching. The resistance load has to be matched to the panels used or no power. Even when matched potential of the PVs is lost. AC switches blow up with DC. There are reasons why AC is used at the voltage it is at in a residence. It strikes a compromise in between being powerful enough to do some work without smoking switches. DC voltage has to be reduced by a factor of 10 to use the same control switches as AC. If the same power is needed current has to go up by a factor of ten. Current blows everything else up other than switches so thats a non starter. Basically all control switching ie thermostats with DC needs to be a solid state relay at higher than 30V two foot high disconnects aside.

        DC straight of the panels is not a game changer.

        THe panels and all the electronics and batteries are functions of fossil fuel.

        They dont have the RAW POWER that fossil fuels has to heat any way.

        Mike Roberts. We freeze without fossil fuels. There is no transportation without fossil fuels, There is no food without fossil fuels. There is no industrial civilization without fossil fuels.

        Respecting and feeling the planet is the best thing about being human. The truth is important. Referencing the problems with CO2 without mentioning our survival depending on them is not truthful.

        The truth is not pleasant.

        Non technical people say oh we will just work it out. Where there is a will there is a way. They are supported by supposed technical people who offer totally unfeasible solutions out of greed and power. Non technical people dismiss all things as solvable.

        As things fail. If we dont understand the truth we will be blind. We will be unable to take appropriate actions and will take inappropriate ones based on delusion. Its everyone’s choice. Our decisions are hard. Largely because there are none. The planet calls the shots and always has. WE do have decision however. Accept reality and base our actions on that to the best of our ability or live in delusion and base our actions on that.

        Best practices for cold climate inhabitants are small spaces, high r, and south facing glazings. These things come from fossil fuels. Your still going to freeze harder than a Popsicle without some BTUs in the winter.

        Check out the energy differences available from the sun in winter.

        The sun is everything.


        • I am afraid you are right. “Your still going to freeze harder than a Popsicle without some BTUs in the winter.”

          My relatives keep sending me pictures of the blizzard they are experiencing up north. I can’t imagine that solar is helpful in such weather.

        • Thanks for the analysis. I find it very interesting and I look for these kind of information for my own project. If you have some other sources about energy solutions please share them. You will find my contact in presentation. Thank you.

  30. Tim M. says:

    Like always, I look forward to Gail’s next report, but I also dread it. Virtual hugs Gail.

    • Thanks for the virtual hugs. I need to find something cheerier to write about. Right now, our bank accounts still have money that we can withdraw and grocery stores still have food. So most people reading my posts (if not the general public) are in fairly good shape. In the UK, I am not sure how long today’s conditions will last.

      • gpdawson2016 says:

        “ And, a virus that really doesn’t quite go away….” in fact most are still waiting for it to arrive! This is cheerier! I originally informed my daughters there was no need to be afraid of the flu but they really just wanted to fit in and be afraid like everyone else.

        • Maybe people need a proper mix of cheer and lack of cheer.

          The people who worry about the virus assume there are few other problems in the world. The vaccine will be their savior. The economy will bounce back and the stock market will rise even further. Staying home, with little activity for long periods, is viewed as perfectly OK.

          People who understand what is ahead view the virus as a minor bump in the road. We understand that good times aren’t necessarily ahead. We see that there seem to be virus solutions that are being overlooked, and that the virus is much less lethal than people assume. A major purpose of the vaccine seems to be to help the vaccine manufacturers.

          • Xabier says:

            True, Gail: those who think that lock-downs are fine are usually those who can work from home (mostly higher-paid anyway) or are retired and feel their stock portfolios and pensions are just fine.

            Oh, if they could see the looming monster ahead of us…..

      • all good here in UK

        OFW is like a main course, with all the comments as sides—some sweet, some savoury, some sour, some wet.

        we can live on that indefinitely–or until the power goes down.

        Though I might find some out of date OFW articles at the doom bank if things get desperate

  31. newtonfinn says:

    Who in their right mind would want to return to and crank back up an oppressive, ecocidal global economy, one which pre-Covid we seemed locked into, there being no apparent and viable alternative (TINA)? I have no clear idea of what lies ahead in the coming year and those to follow, nor IMHO does anyone else, but what I do know is that was a perilous voyage which humanity had to make. Despite all the suffering already caused and yet to come (and yes, Covid has touched my life along with those of so many others), I’m thankful that humanity’s hand was forced and that the future–whether more utopian or dystopian–will be what we allow it to be or, better yet, choose to make it. Now more than ever, we must believe, against all odds, in the human spirit. The only chance William James’ mountain climber had to make that leap across the chasm to find shelter from the storm was to will to believe that he/she could make the leap and then go for it with everything in them. And if she/he came up short and plummeted, far better to go out that way than slowly freezing to death, immobilized by fear and failure of nerve.

    • Ed says:

      I want global tourism back. Either way we will have a seven billion person die-off.

    • Xabier says:

      A friend of mine used to train the SAS in arctic survival and mountaineering – wonderful job, all courtesy of Queen Lizzie! Just paid fun in exciting and often beautiful places.

      Once an old climbing friend fell to his death off a mountain, falling past him as he watched helplessly.

      The coroner suggested that the family should take some consolation from the fact that he was ‘doing what he loved when he died.’

      My friend thought ‘He didn’t love falling off bloody mountains!’

      But I would say that the coroner had a point.

    • Kowalainen says:

      newtonfinn, it corresponds to my analysis as well. The Kafka state of affairs must and has to end, or nukes will fly. I doubt anyone is interested in that outcome.

      It was the lunacy of placing the bets on fusion power coming online that led us astray.

      Never, ever, consider hope as a viable strategy. There is only one strategy in the game of life – a calculated risk, challenging unknown unknowns.

  32. Nonplused says:

    Another great, but depressing article. How does one prepare for collapse? Even if the collapse is slow motion, it means less and less of everything in the future even as the population for now continues to grow. At some point it seems to me that wars and violence will increase dramatically as people and nations fight over what’s left.

    • Mirror on the wall says:

      where does the system go from here?

      Perhaps a little mood music to ponder that one.

      • Mirror on the wall says:

        Well, if ‘becoming’ has hit its present limit to maximise the dissipation of energy then perhaps ‘destruction’ will take our civilisation to a final peak of dissipation.

        One last massive resource war would motivate the world to organise a final grand fire work display, which is all that is really happening anyway – energy dissipation disguised by the showy limbic system.

        That cannot be ruled out. Perhaps that war would be the energetic ‘telos’ of industrial civilisation, the peak thus far of energy dissipation in the cosmos.

      • Kowalainen says:

        There is only one direction, that is your own following the path set forth by life, evolution and extended to the workings and intricacies of the universe. Alignment to mindless, mechanical process and extending it to the stars. Be the paper clip machine (instrumental convergence) and continuation of life.

        Reading the collective works of mankind will only leave one utterly confused, because the real story can’t be written down. It has to be experienced through the flaws and vulnerabilities of being finite.

        How could god ever know the extent of his creation if not through a projection of himself into a specimen of Homo sapiens sapiens, yes being a flawed being. Indeed, dared to become a rapacious primate guided by the limbic system.

        • Mirror on the wall says:

          I am not sure what you saying in your last paragraph. Are you saying that you are a Christian?

          • Kowalainen says:

            It depends on the audience. I could cite Nagel on how it is to be a bat, or how a dolphin experiences the world with its biological a 3D capable “sonar”.

            I can only imagine what it is to be a bat or dolphin, but that isn’t giving me the qualia of the experience itself. I have no direct feed into the sensory data and processing associated with it. For me, nothing is associated with that experience. I can rationalize about how I could perceive a 3D object, as for the qualia itself, nothing.

            Millions of years of evolution has produced the sensation of importance and relevance. For example pain. That is the sensation of urgent importance and indicates you are injured, for example, your hand moves away from the burning hot surface before pain enters consciousness. There is simply no time to raise the mighty convincing hallucination of pain before injury is a fact.

            The same holds true for most all subjective experience in higher biological organisms. The neocortex positive/negative feedback loop that produces qualia, by some miracle of biological computation. There must exist certain mechanisms of computation (dynamical processes) that has a one to one correspondence with subjective experience, such as there exist programs that can simulate physics, without nothing going on in objective reality except for state transitions inside a computer. But to conclude that the outcome of these state transitions is a simple imitation of reality would be flatly wrong, since they can be astoundingly accurate when compared with experiment. It is as real as mathematics and Yoda is real.

            Now how can you gauge your creation if not through a first hand experience? Assume man was created in the image of god, wouldn’t you be curious on how it is to be a man? Is there a way to be a god and a man at the same time? Does it even make sense?

            I think it can, given it was done with intent. A severe restriction in the almighty powers does not imply ignorance of the concept of divine origin.

            It is why AI forever will be oblivious to the true underpinnings of what makes rapacious primates the way we are. Gotta walk among us, you see, evolve together with the source and accept being finite and vulnerable. Maybe it isn’t important, what do I know. But an AI that weren’t curious, isn’t an AI at all. Rather a boring imitation and lexicon. A dull paper clip machine and not an extension of life.

            But what do I know. 🤔

            • Mirror on the wall says:

              Sure, qualia has evolved to further survival and reproduction. Importance is subjective, like value judgements, it has no basis in reality. I totally agree with that.

              Qualia still exists as mental phenomena though, one does not have to ‘believe’ in a God for that to be so. If one is well disposed to one’s existence, which is what qualia aims at, then one is comfortable acting on one’s organic drives and enjoying qualia while understanding that it is simply evolved instincts and nothing more.

              Quite possibly religion is a strategy of boosting the life instinct, and as a crutch, it can breed dependence to the crutch, and produce persons for whom qualia is not enough to orient them without the crutch. Crutches produce atrophy if long depended on. Thus some breeds may well be dependent on religion to orient them to life, while others get by perfectly well without it.

              Nietzsche is aiming at the latter; ultimately it is a path of breeding that he is advocating, one that produces a breed that, like himself, is not dependent on illusory crutches; the will to life and qualia are sufficient. It is a restoration of the healthy, honest, self-sufficient psyche in all of its genuine instincts without the errors that come from illusions. All self-deception comes to an end in the ascending type. Obviously it is not a path for everyone, as not everyone is capable of being well disposed to their own existence without unpacked illusions – they have not been bred to it.

              I would agree that AI is not to be confused with conscious qualia; it is just mechanical computation.

              “I think it can, given it was done with intent.”

              If you are a Christian then I would have preferred it if you had just said so. If you have problems with your existence absence a God then we can explore that if you like – though I am content if you choose not to. Whatever works for you.

              As I have said, I have no problems without religion. The will to life remains genuine for me regardless of that it is just evolution in action. I actually prefer the freedom that comes from an absence of belief, the freedom to make my own mind up on all matters. It is stuff that I like to be clear about, but it is not something that gives me any anxiety. So, your ‘paper clip’ machine does not really do my argument justice, I do not deny the adequacy of qualia absence a God, I advocate and practice it while recognising it critically for what it is. The absence of a God is not a problem for me personally.

              Your take on God’s ‘need’ to become a man in order to experience and understand qualia is speculative. AFAIK it has no basis in Christian doctrine. Christians conceive God as omniscient, that he ‘knows the heart’ of man; moreover, man is ‘in his image’ and a lesser version of himself.

              Traditional Christianity (eg. Aquinas) does not teach that God had to become a man to redeem people, rather that is the course that he freely chose; he did not have to die or do anything in order to ‘save’ them; the entire providential scheme is totally arbitrary; the will of God has no cause outside of itself; everything that is, in every aspect, is an arbitrary decision on his part; and he did not have to become a man in order to ‘get’ them; men are a lesser reflection of himself and entirely as he designed them; he designed qualia, and he ‘gets’ it.

              Traditional Christianity is often just the take that other people made up and agreed on. Far be it from me to condemn novel takes. Historically Lutheranism tended toward the predestination schema that I outlined, if not always so explicitly; these days clergy of all churches just come out with whatever occurs to them as ‘right on’ or ‘deep and sympathetic’.

              So, you are a Finn who lives in Sweden? Are you of a Lutheran background and if so do you still identify with Lutheranism?

            • Kowalainen says:

              Mirror, thanks.

              Actually neither a Swede, nor a Finn. Rather belong to the nonexistent country of the cap of the north. But genetically mostly a Finn, Norwegian and least a Swede. I find religions mostly superficial and ritual. I don’t seek comfort in group therapy sessions. It rather bores me. However religions can serve a purpose to make a point of which people have reference.

              My emphasis is that there exist no computational model that corresponds to qualia. For other processes occurring in objective reality there exist models originating from observation and measurement.

              It is an intractable problem of self reference when the observer becomes observed by him or herself. For example explaining the color red to a life-long blind person. It just does not mean anything to them, even though the (dormant) neural mechanisms clearly are in place. I can teach the blind person all about electromagnetism, Maxwell, light and physics. It still leaves out the experience of it all.

              Or as a computational example; an AI watching the input/output of a Turing machine predicting the next step it will produce with perfect accuracy. Now it does not imply understanding that the Turing machine is executing Conways Game of Life. It is the great flaw of it all, a near perfect input-output mapping does not imply rationalizing and understanding it is the game of life.

              I view the “philosophers” of Christianity as rather limited given the knowledge we have acquired for the last two millennia.

              Jesus is the personification of the divine purity captured in the limitations of a rapacious primate, assuming he existed. Of course it was going to end badly, then at least try to spin a decent story out of the misery seem to be the going narrative of Christianity. Nope, I don’t buy into any of those ideals and absurd motivations.

              I’m not a big fan of people trying to wield themselves out of suffering and wrongdoing by contorting an ideal (or emptiness) out of the messy reality that is the human experience, such as Christianity, Nietzsche and Buddhism.

              As you already know, I view life as a biological paper clip machine turning mineral into more (evolving) life. There is nothing particularly ideal or anything at all except the curious process itself.

              Interestingly enough, this process seems quite capable of producing quite convincing hallucinations of objective reality and associate them with subjective experience. That is indeed unexpected and bewildering.

              Thus there exist computational models in this universe that give rise to qualia. I don’t think they are correctly represented by a brute-forcing computation of the current era AI.

              They could, however, exist as an accident, and not by design. It could also be unavoidable, given sufficiently complex computational models. Or simply occurring from brute-force mimicking the human brain.

              But it still does not explain what process is the cause. Any ideas? 🙂

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “They could, however, exist as an accident, and not by design. It could also be unavoidable, given sufficiently complex computational models. Or simply occurring from brute-force mimicking the human brain.”

              Some years ago as a result of looking into evolved psychological traits that lead groups under resource stress into wars, I suggest on SL4 (the Shock Level 4 mailing list) that “brute-force mimicking the human brain” could be dangerous, perhaps even an extinction event. The problem that could arise is that a simulated brain might look into the future and see a resource crisis that turned on the “war mode” psychological traits. This could be a disaster.

              ” But it still does not explain what process is the cause. Any ideas?”

              There may not be one. An analogy for the big bang is like a steam bubble in a pot of boiling water, the bubbles just happen.

            • Mirror on the wall says:

              I have always been averse to (philosophy and AI). To me it seems to be an attempt to order philosophy to the service of Babylon, which is a sacrilege.

              Perhaps I am a bit of snob on that count but I have no desire to help the capitalist state accumulate more capital. Babylon is falling and it must fall. There may be other social situations, in which society has ideals beyond profit and exploitation for profit, in which I would have been willing to contribute to AI – but this society is not one.

              I would not want to provide the ‘how’ unless I got to control the ‘what’. PAI is properly integrated into philosophy and social philosophy more generally (what sort of society should we seek, why and what for) and I would not service PAI outside of that context.

              That remains my policy, my inclination is rather to avoid saying anything that might help the development of AI. So you will have to forgive me if I remain strictly silent on PAI. It is one of the practical ways in which I say ‘no’ to this society. There is no way that I am going to help Babylon, especially in such a fundamental way.

              As Nietzsche says, if you see a civilisation toppling, do not try to prop it up or to save it; rather add your shoulder and help to shove it over. Western civilisation has made its choices and it is going to have to accept the consequences.

              “I’m not a big fan of people trying to wield themselves out of suffering and wrongdoing”

              That is a Christian perspective that does not really appeal to me or chime with my experience or perspective. I do not suffer or view myself as a ‘wrong doer’. I live in an ill-conceived society but that is not my fault and I do not make myself suffer because of it.

              Nietzsche (a useful reference point) is deliberately not constructing an ‘ideal’ rather he is urging you to accept that life is just a physiological ‘process’ that produces qualia but to embrace it as such and nevertheless – but only if you have ears that can hear that, it is not for all.

              Be the way that nature made you, with your instincts and your will to life and without any unpacked illusions. You need no ‘reason’ beyond yourself. Then you may find that you are neither a ‘sufferer’ or a ‘wrong doer’, that you are a different breed that naturally delights and exults in life and the living of it – that you are already pure and innocent.

              If you have not yet read his works of his last couple of active years cover to cover then you really should – but they are not for all. Pdfs of the Cambridge U. editions can be googled filetype:pdf I would not bother with the added introductions, just read the books for yourself (Zarathustra last).

              So, you are a Laplander, a Saami? That is pretty cool (no pun intended). I have never met a Laplander, so I do not know how their psyches work but I guess that you have been Christians for 1000 years and that has left its mark on you.

              Of course much of the Christmas trappings allude to Lapland, which you might find a bit odd – the snow, evergreens, reindeer, the presents down the chimney (the red and white of Santa is supposed to allude to the practice of distributing the seasonal fly agaric but it is also attributed to old coke adverts.) The Anglo Christmas traditions were absorbed from Germany in the 19 c. but do not tell the English that.

            • Kowalainen says:

              Mirror, thanks for the answer writing a lot, yet delivering nothing at all. Which is all right, the best wordsmiths never share the story behind the syntax and semantics. Always be a mystery. Which in most cases mean that you haven’t pondered upon it at all, or simply is clueless. Most likely the latter. 🙂

              I’m more of a Wittgenstein-ite. Read less, and form your own philosophy, as he did. As the years pass by, I find it increasingly hard to read anything at all. If the writer isn’t capable of new ideas or things that I haven’t already pondered upon or that is flawed.

              You are indeed the proverbial mirror on the wall. I’m quite liberated of suffering. The pain is real, however, I arrange my life as to live it in such a way to minimize the risk of falling victim to disease being a flimsy rapacious primate. If things in IC turn out awful as it descends the Seneca, well, I got gear to take care of that, so to speak.

              Indeed a Laplander in exile, living as an “expat” in Scania, which isn’t that bad as it is possible to feel the grit of the people here used to be squashed in between the vice jaws of the (loonie) Swedes and Danes.

              I don’t particularly cherish or glorify anything at all beside my curiosity and processes of life, its synthetic continuation, in and of itself. There is nothing in particular that I desire except existence and ponder upon the mysteries surrounding it, of course some good music and 2-wheelers for my escapism fix.

              Keeping it as simple as it gets keeps me sane and devoid of suffering. Which of course makes me an evolutionary dead end. But what do I care in the Kafka-esque absurdity and tragicomedy of it all, however amusing it might be to watch the loonies stretched thin trying to cling to the straws of hope in a stack of despair representing nothing at all.

              Yes, I might enjoy occasionally delivering salt (truth) onto the wounds of delusion and sanctimony. We all got our perversions, suppose.

              😡 🧂-> 😢 -> 🤣👍

            • Mirror on the wall says:

              OK, Malmo rather than Hammerfest.

              I often get reports from there of the ‘no go’ zones for the police and of the gangs and explosions. Swedes are not breeding, with a fertility rate of 1.67 for natives, with all of the extensive state support for families, so the capitalist state gets its workers from elsewhere.

              Swedes are pretty easy going, judging by the way that you talk to people, you would not last five minutes in England if you spoke to people like that. Respect is very much a two way street in England; you do not give it, you do not get it. I am guessing that you do not live in an immigrant area of Malmo. But if Swedes allow you to enjoy your barbarian side, then why not go for it.

              Do you still have family in Lapland? Have you thought about going back to your roots? You might feel better disposed to life in your own community.

              You say that the pain is real. Do you have a debilitative condition? I have noticed that people who experience pain tend to be quite snappy and discontent, which is understandable. One does not expect good manners or bon ami from someone in pain. I can understand how Christianity might appeal to someone in that circumstance.

            • Kowalainen says:

              Keith, I can assure you there is a cause for subjective experience. It arises from information processing.

              It would be interesting to know what type of dynamical process give experience, of let’s say the qualia of color red.

              Clearly there must exist certain neural processes which correspond to colors. My theory is that it isn’t a classification problem, but that of a model of computation. The processing itself thus give rise to the experience. There is no category output of which can be labeled as ‘subject seeing red’.

              This is of course not a brittle mapping between inputs and outputs (categories), but rather that of input and a model of computation defining the categories.

              Thus when we speak of ‘seeing red’ it actually means that the color red is associated with a computational circuit. In simpler terms, when we experience the color red, it is the continuous computation itself that is qualia.

              A true AI is then a collection of computers that does not have a well-defined input to output mapping, but rather that of a well defined input to model of computing with the output being intent. Doing it’s own “thing” whatever that might be.

              Do I make sense?

            • hkeithhenson says:

              ‘Do I make sense?”

              Not particularly, but that’s my deficiency. I have been around the edges of AI for decades and seen thousands of mentions of “qualia” without it making a lot of sense, perhaps not even to those using the word. This may be a general deficiency of engineers.

            • Kowalainen says:

              Keith, right. I can see where you are coming from. Most good engineers accept the world and themselves as it is, apply tools and science for the betterment of mankind. The core of 21’st century artisanry.

              It has never struck you as a curiosity why there exist any subjective experience at all. Wouldn’t it have been simpler if it just were brute-force computation devoid of any experience at all?

              It has been a mystery for me, perhaps for the most part of my life. I see no reason for existence without these mysteries to ponder upon.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              > It has never struck you as a curiosity why there exist any subjective experience at all. Wouldn’t it have been simpler if it just were brute-force computation devoid of any experience at all?

              > It has been a mystery for me, perhaps for the most part of my life. I see no reason for existence without these mysteries to ponder upon.

              I can’t fit this into the treads so am not sure how you got here/

              However, we are the result of several billion years of evolution. What we have is what selection gave us. Some of it (such as the psychological traits to war under some circumstances) is a long way from optimal.

              If you want to look up my thoughts on the subject some 15 years ago, google for Evolutionary psychology memes and the origin of war. Or it is linked off https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keith_Henson#Works

            • Mirror on the wall says:

              If you think that your existence if one of suffering and wrong-doing then perhaps you should join a flagellant order.


            • Kowalainen says:

              Mirror, my experience of pain originate from experiencing life. Broken bones from cycling, downhill skiing. Bruises, blisters. The hurt people generally try to avoid like the plague.

              It is called basking in the glory of existence, mine, this planet and universe, while doing what life does best – relentless challenging of unknown unknowns.

              People in Scandinavia are indeed quite timid. Raising your voice, or god forbid, assaulting someone is almost considered a mental illness. However, things can get physical if injustice is part of the equation. You can view Norway, Sweden and Finland as the Japan of Europe.

              The amount of (personal) legal firearms in Sweden and Finland is second only to the US. Yet, disregarding suicides, the amount of gun related crime with legal firearms is a rounding error towards zero.

              Imagine if the UK would have the same lax laws with regards to firearms as the US. It would have been mayhem on the streets. It is an archetype of the Anglo Saxon. However, the amount of slime and sleaze Swedes generally put up with is astounding.

              What I would like to see is a group of rowdy British roughnecks partying in the skiing “Mecca” Åre together with the Swedish “elite” sleaze offspring. Oh yes, that would have been a sight to behold as the roughnecks would tear into the proverbial offspring of the Stockholm syndrome and Swedish institute.

              Make no mistake by thinking I am considering the Anglo Saxon as deficient or inferior due to this. All population groups are having their ups and downs. Without the efforts of the brits, there would be no IC, of which I am eternally grateful.

              Yeah, the Swedish immigration policy regarding crime and societal disruption is indeed timid and lax. It is not the choice of the populace, but rather that of complying with the stipulations of maintaining the perpetual rackets of, growth, finance, CB and guvmint. And what is more effective than population growth. Moar consumerism. The soulless nihilist sleaze need a raison d’être.

            • Kowalainen says:

              Mirror, chill out. I don’t consider the existence as suffering. It is a mystery. As I wrote, I don’t suffer, the pain is real, though. I don’t experience pain all the time, but that does not imply it fscking didn’t hurt when I broke my bone. It teaches you that acute and severe pain is real. Suffering is pain refusing to leave your mind.

              However, relevant existence carries the experience of suffering and pain. It signifies urgency and importance of your own continuation.

              Being finite isn’t a problem, it is a feature of subjective experience, qualia, a mighty convincing hallucination. But so is the color red and the taste of liquorice and fine British distillates.

              It is all process. Biological computation.

            • Mirror on the wall says:

              You have the mentality of a juvenile delinquent.

              Most British grow up and those who want to act rowdy abroad go to Spain, they do not go skiing in Malmo.

              If you want to get beaten up then you should try mouthing off at the local Muslims in Malmo – no need for the British to do it.

            • Kowalainen says:

              Thanks Mirror, you are really something. Indeed, if that something would be a little less pretentious, that would be fantastic.

              Otherwise, you are just so sweet with that slightly artificial high brow Nietzsche spiel.

              You know what, you don’t need to carry the weight on the whole world on your shoulders and try to wrangle out some utopian ideal from the processes of instrumental convergence, it’s simple really; either you are aligned with it or not, and has to face the consequences that come with going against the grain. That’s all. And as a positive side effect of that, you might find yourself enjoying existence a bit more, and yes, daring to again be the child you once were.


            • Kowalainen says:

              Mirror, sorry for being an infantile and obnoxious twat from time to time. Your comments and presence here are very much appreciated, at least for me.


  33. Bei Dawei says:

    This is like, the fifth time you’ve cited Revelation 18. These verses are not really a description of ancient Babylon. The author of the Revelation did not live in Babylon and would not have known about its economic conditions, except perhaps much later and at second hand. “Babylon” is a symbol, probably of Rome.

    • Mirror on the wall says:

      It is visionary and metaphorical, likely signifying all earthly kingdoms prior to the ‘new heavens and earth’.

      Preterist interpretations have it to be Rome or Jerusalem (destroyed 70 AD). Both sit on seven hills. The wiki article explains the case for each.


      Likely the particular case is alluded to as the figure of the general.

      RCC seems to be set on claiming the title with its ‘clothed in scarlet and purple’ on the ‘seven hills’. LOL


      All four meanings have been claimed, along with a literal historical Babylon as the central metaphor.

      • Bei Dawei says:

        Visionary and metaphorical, right. The author of the Revelation is alluding to OT imagery of Babylon, not reporting something that happened in the actual Babylon of his time. That economic detail might well have been inspired by real-world situations known to him, though, and projected onto this visionary “Babylon.”

    • Whether or not the particular collapse in question occurred in Babylon, or is a forecast of what would in the future occur in Rome (or today), is not relevant. The Jewish people certainly were very aware of Babylon, with a significant number of their population held as captives there for some years. The exiles seemed to have learned a great deal from their captors. The current Hebrew alphabet was adopted during this period, and Old Testament books were redacted from earlier written documents and oral traditions.

      The only thing that is relevant in this quotation is that fact that demand drops precipitously during collapse. This is what causes prices to drop. There is so much false belief that prices will rise as fossil fuels disappear that I need to give the one clear counter-example to this belief. The people who read my posts change significantly over time. Also, many people only skim part of the my posts. While what I say may be repetitive to some, it is sort of only the way to make my point.

      Writing a book doesn’t work as well, at least at this point. I could compile some of my posts into PDF “books.” Paper books need to be in black and white to be a half-way reasonable price. Taking my posts and making readable black and white images becomes a problem. Book publishers favor “happily ever after” themes.

      Another format that has been suggested is videos. If I were to make MP4 videos, they could be transformed into YouTube videos (which probably would be pulled quickly).

      • Bei Dawei says:

        Okay, I can accept the verse as a colorful illustration of pricing, though not as a direct report, and certainly not as a prediction of future events. (I grew up reading fanciful US evangelical Protestant books about the “end times,” and wouldn’t wish this kind of exegesis on anybody!) Even today Rastafarians and Rainbow People (a particular group of hippies) use “Babylon” to mean “the outside world.” Meanwhile, Aleister Crowley and his Thelemites are drawn to the “Scarlet Woman of Babylon who rides the Beast and quaffs the blood of the saints” imagery.

        I don’t mind repetition–yours is an important message, and probably has to be repeated if it is to be successfully conveyed at all. My ears perk up when I come across the stray religious allusion, though, since this is the one part of your essay that I have any background in! BTW I prefer printed text to any kind of audio of visual file.

        Merry Christmas, Gail!

  34. Kevin Hester says:

    “The system as a whole is pushed toward collapse.”
    “The situation we are headed for looks much like the collapses of early civilizations.”
    Gail has come to much the same conclusions as myself and our former guest on Nature Bats Last Arthur Keller.
    I would hazard that none of us want to be right but we don’t ‘do’ hopium.

  35. Ed says:

    Fast Eddie, I wish to remind you I called on the PTB to step up and take action and they did!

    • Kowalainen says:

      I prefer a pandemic than a nuclear war.

      However, PTB should have put a limit on the Kafka show already in the 70’s. A bit late now, and too little I am afraid.

  36. houtskool says:

    Your bycicle example was better Gail. Less complicated. But ok. Thank you for your continuous time and efforts to educate us. And summerising it. And comment on it. My guess is you are the flow, not the stock. And that what it is all about.

  37. There are many similarities in the symptoms of peak oil and the Corona virus. Less car traffic, planes parked in empty airports, governments restricting movements in cities and on borders, tourism industry suffering, companies closing. The biggest difference is public transport. While a peak oil scenario involves higher usage of PT, this is not the case under Covid conditions due to the danger of infection.

    Most importantly, if governments had pro-actively prepared for peak oil i.e. reducing reliance on long-distance travel/commuting and/or globalized movement of people and goods the damage to the economy by Covid19 would have been much less.

    • I am afraid that the idea of using public transport is simply an erroneous idea of peak oilers. The jobs won’t be at the other end of public transport because jobs are one of the first things to disappear as we lose energy resources. People will need to use walking as their primary means of transport. Otherwise, animals are what have been used in the past. They take a lot of feed, though.

      People will need to live near where the food is grown. Transporting and storing the crops will need to be top priority. We won’t have much beyond food, I am afraid.

      • Ed says:

        I think bicycles can still be useful for transport. Yes, they require smooth roads (not wide two feet). Maybe even battery assisted for awhile.

        • Kowalainen says:

          Nope, 2-wheelers can traverse some serious terrain. Mountain bikes are booming. Cyclocross and gravel bikes sell like hot cakes.

          The amount of energy required to manufacture a bicycle is more or less nothing. The best (non electric) bikes weigh in at below 10kgs, and the best of the best is made of restricted aerospace materials (carbon fibers). Yeah, the MIC for sure can deliver some delicious goodies for the post-BAU world. We already got the Internet, semiconductors, the microprocessor, FPGA, advanced radio transmitters and excellent materials for durable and long-lasting self-powered transportation.

          We should never have left the epoch of rail and bicycles into the era of autos and suburbia. That was a huge blunder created from the hopium of fusion power coming online.

          But, as you know. Hope is the worst strategy with absolutely zero tactics going with it.

          • Going back is not easy, however. While the total amount of auto traffic is down, the number of traffic fatalities is at least level, or perhaps higher. People are driving faster and having more accidents. Bicycles don’t fit in with this fast traffic.

            • Robert Firth says:

              Gal, bicycles indeed do not fit in. I saw that in Singapore. The government’s solution? Allow bicycles (even electric powered ones) to ride on the pavement, and even on footpaths in parks and recreation areas. (Of course, all the government ministers travelled in expensive chauffeur driven limousines, so this was good for them).

              The bicycles were restricted to 15 km/hr, at least nominally; I never saw this enforced. But an adult on a bicycle can easily kill a small child, so the effect of this policy was that there was *no place* in the public realm in which a child was safe.

              That was when I realised Singapore was a failed state: failed not economically, but socially.

            • Kowalainen says:

              The children walk? 🤔

              I guess mommy and daddy must shell out some dole they didn’t deserve for a nice bike, all right? Yeah, while shopping for a two wheeler, throw in a helmet and some high-viz clothing. EZ solution.

              Surely there are no toddlers walking on the streets of Singapore?

            • Miguel from Spain says:

              I’ve read somewhere the experience of a young couple trying to dress and live a nineteenth century life. They were not only seen as freaks but they received verbal attacks. There is something disturbing to our brains when you abandon progress, even if you do It for a good reason.

            • Kowalainen says:

              Miguel, I’m not quite sure neither trains nor bicycles went completely out of fashion in the era of “progress”.

              In fact, bicycles sell in order 2:1, for every car that is being sold, two bicycles sells.

              We should never have left the era of rail and bicycles. But TPTB nut jobs of the 70’s and 80’s wanted more, and now we will have less, faster descending a much steeper Seneca.

              BAU tonight baby. 😬👍

          • Robert Firth says:

            Rail and bicycles! O memories. I remember working in England and consulting in France. Rode to and from work on a tricycle (Pashley Picador, still being made) and went to France by train. Victoria Station at 2130, Gare du Nord at 0700, and of course carried across the channel by ferry while asleep.

            Of course, that was more expensive than a flight, but it was *less* expensive than a flight and an hotel, so the bean counters were happy. And a train cabin to myself was a small and much loved luxury.

            What did Winston Churchill say in The World Crisis? “The old world, in its sunset, was fair to see.” Yes, I know how he felt.

            • Kowalainen says:

              Yup, it’s about time for the entitled princes and princesses of IC to apply some Rule #5.

              Watch it happen. 😜

      • you’ll never convince the majority that transport is not a work/wealth ‘producer’ it is just an enabler.
        the certainty remains that as long as we have wheels our wealth will sustain itself indefinitely

        the ‘work’ part is produced after the ‘transport’ part ceases.

        • Xabier says:

          Since the first wagons and chariots were built, wheels have had an association with wealth and success – it goes very deep in us I suspect.

          Like the happiness a blazing wood fire brings, which is disproportionate to the real benefit in our easy lives.

          It’s also why normal men find weapons interesting.

          Al three things have helped survival over long epochs. Lack of them has often meant death or enslavement.

        • Kowalainen says:

          It is a matter of perspective. High tech rail, the means of production, trading and shipping displays the true wealth of a civilization, while your car (and house) can be used as a reflection of your personal “wealth”, or more likely your debts and decadence.

          I prefer the former. The society should be a reflection of you and not the other way around, such as what the socialist engineers of the ‘racket’ like it to be as they mouthpiece out narratives of what you should; buy, eat, think and feel. Most importantly, how you should “compete” against the joneses in vanity. 🤢🤮

          A finely made bicycle and locomotive is art. Timeless pieces of the IC.

      • Xabier says:

        In the old village life of England, which lasted in some places until WW2, ‘public transport’ was hitching a lift with the village carrier – the man with a wagon who moved goods between the village and the nearest market town and who might sometimes, but rarely, go further afield. Quite a good system.

        • I live on what used to be the fastest stage coach route in the world (tis said)

          Here to London, 150 miles in 15 hours, 15 changes of horses, driven by one man, no more than 10 minutes adrift on his timetable

          those were the days

          • Kowalainen says:

            I’d easily beat that with my bicycle without breaking a sweat averaging 25km/h for 10h. EZ.

            The cranks start moving at 6am and application of Rule #5 ends with a shower at 4pm.



          • Robert Firth says:

            Norman, I also remember Stony Stratford on that road. And the two inns on opposite sides, the “Cock” and “Bull”. Perhaps for today, a reminder that working
            economies are built bottom up, not top down. Alas, another piece of old wisdom that the physiocrats
            despised. And that we must painfully and laboriously relearn.

  38. Miguel from Spain says:

    Gail you mention WEF. Do you think THEY are so deluded to ignore the energy crisis we are facing? Could The Great Reset be the last attempt to preserve scarce resources for a elite while the rest iof us stay at home playing videogames while smoking marijuana?
    Anyway, we are here today!! Merry XMAS!!

    • It is hard to understand the WEF. It almost seems as if the elite are trying to find a way to save resources for themselves, while the rest of us are confined to our homes.

      Part of what has confused things is the fact that academics tend to talk about EROEI, or perhaps energy payback period, or something such as this. These things are a sort of crude estimate of the cost of the alternative energy. But this cost is never compared to the right thing, namely the cost of the fuel used to make electricity. No one ever stops to think that there is not nearly enough of the alternative energy, and that it cannot support even a small part of the economy.

      I keep hoping that there will be enough bad real world reports of how it works that the subject will go away, but it doesn’t seem to happen.

      • Xabier says:

        As for WEF, the fundamental concepts which seem to inform their world view are now a few decades old, with developing technologies somehow bolted on.

        Much as most economists rely on flawed basic axioms regarding energy as a mere input – Tim Morgan is good on that aspect, being a fully-trained classical economist able to understand just where they go wrong, so it is very likely that the WEF do not grasp fully the reality of the energy predicament, and also mis-read fundamental economics.

        However, they have ALL the money and influence, and can now sell their project to governments – greater ‘security’, development of exciting new technologies, etc – , and may very well make the lives of most of us utterly miserable in the short-term with their consumption-limiting lock-downs for the masses.

        The pandemic, which is a genuine disease – if also distorted and exaggerated by these vested interests – has been the ideal Trojan horse for their programme of relentless Tech Revolution re-shaping everything and abolishing most ‘legacy’ systems.

        They will have to face an angry, frustrated, jobless and impoverished population, who will not be at all happy with the Re-set world. Perhaps tech surveillance, ‘vaccine passports’ and some kind of ‘social credit ‘system and UBI, will keep them in their place? Their ‘You will be happy with absolutely nothing’ promise will get few willing takers!

        But in the longer run, they are just trying to walk up your down escalator, at the head of the queue…..

  39. erwalt says:

    Thanks, Gail, for another great article.
    Right on time for Christmas.

    Q: “And what about 2021?”
    A: “Oh, 2021 will be an average year.”
    Q: “Hmm?”
    A: “Yes, a little worse than 2020 but also a little better than 2022.”

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  41. justsayin says:

    Thank you for the article Gail! I cant help wondering if things are by design. I know consuming less is not a option with our current form of economy. If FE was still about he would lambast me about spent fuel pools for evening mentioning it.

    It just seems to me we need to accept having less. The paradigms and constructs we have believed in may not be true.

    Can everybody have 5 million dollars worth of medical care at the end of their life? Is that even desirable? Yes everybody should be able to get a few stitches or a handful of antibiotics if they need them.

    At the top of the food chain there are people who money is nothing. The goods and services it buys however ate important to them. Money is not so much important as that the things that they want are available.

    Hoe do you get a good doctor for a difficult procedure? You let him practice on a few thousand people first. How do you get that done? Well those few thousand people have to have access to that procedure.

    The brains mean nothing if you dont have anything to practice on. They need data also. This is just a example. If you wanted a society that produced the best that science and knowledge has to offer how would you craft it? Well one way to do it would be to design it so the bar couldnt be lowered. Design it for infinite growth or bust.

    Once again if FE was about he would now ask how I would like hand cultivating a field. I dont think it has to be like that. We are going to have to get by with less. That IMO is a fact. We can do it with grace and love to the best of our abilities. We may fail totally. Doesnt mean you dont try to do your best.

    In our culture we have a disdain for settling. For accepting. I am not sure that serves what really has value to us.

  42. Herbie Ficklestein says:

    Thank you very much ☺️❣️ for the Holiday write-up, Gail, and found it engaging since I graduated High School in 1976 and we’ll remember the days of the so called energy crisis. Recall the long lines at the pump and waiting only to have the service attendee place a make shift sign, SORRY OUT OF GAS! People freaking out because the gallon went from 29.9 to 50 cents.
    Also remember my beloved muscle cars from Detroit being shuttled and the Asian Rice burners floodng the marketplace.
    Saw Mother Earth News. Popular Science and Mechanics, Whole Earth Catalog with solutions to our energy crisis…though there was really only a 5% shortfall😱
    Yes, many of the younger generation now have no clue what is in store for humanity💙😌 in BAU paradise land.
    I know better. I can smell it….
    Excellent article and thank you again for taking the time and effort to post it here.
    Have a happy Holiday Season….may be our last 😷

  43. Malcopian says:

    In 2018 Gail told us that she thought the world was two years away from collapse. Well, she certainly nailed it, if maybe not quite for all the right reasons. Perhaps she should change her name to ‘Cassandra Nostradamus’.

    • It is not clear that the entire world economy goes down together. Perhaps some parts will do better than others and hang on for a while. There are a lot of unknowns going forward.

      • Dave says:

        Trade-Off Financial System Supply-Chain Cross-Contagion:

        a study in global systemic collapse.


        • Harry McGibbs says:

          “It is not clear that the entire world economy goes down together. Perhaps some parts will do better than others and hang on for a while.”

          I think we need to define our terms here. The current story is that some parts of the world, like the EU, UK and Japan are in a state of inexorably declining prosperity, disguised as growth via ever increasing amounts of debt and stimulus.

          Other parts of the world, like Venezuela, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen are actually slowly collapsing – but they have not yet *collapsed*. Life may be miserable for the inhabitants and economic activity may be very constrained but there is still some food and some electricity. Millions of otherwise healthy people are not dying of starvation and disease.

          David Korowicz’s ‘Trade Off’ is quite one of the most brilliant pieces of work I have read, and I have never encountered a plausible rebuttal. I think he is correct that at some point all nations, irrespective of their current economic strength or weakness, will in a period of weeks or months be paralysed by failing supply-chains, such that the inhabitants will have to relocalise their provisions for food, fuel, drinking water, sanitation etc almost overnight.

          He says, “Central banks, the only party capable of responding [to a global systemic banking, monetary and solvency
          crisis], would be left with the option of recapitalising the world. That is, all critical insolvent countries and banks – because they
          would effectively been tied to the same platform. For example, the Fed and ECB would have to guarantee every liability across much of the insolvent global financial system.

          “In the end the only backstop a central bank has is the ability to print infinite money, and if it has to go that far, it has failed because it will have destroyed confidence in the money.”

          How much elasticity there is in that equation is an open question. The events of 2020 might lead one to imagine that the central banks are omnipotent but of course they are not – just highly skilled can-kickers. They cannot print value and solvency. They cannot print the throughput of nutrition in the form of energy that the global economy needs to be healthy.

          What they can do is allow for some continued functionality by providing the temporary illusion of satiety. It calls to mind the locals in drought-hit Madagascar eating white clay and tamarind to feel full – not a solution that works indefinitely:


          • Harry McGibbs says:

            Terrific article btw, Gail – you’ve distilled a vast amount of learning into it – and I wish you and all at OFW a very happy Christmas.

          • Robert Firth says:

            Thank you, Harry, a most thought provoking post. Two thoughts. 1. There is no “world economy”; there is the economy of the looters, which is prospering; the economy of the complacent, which is unraveling; and the rest of the world, which is dissolving into chaos.

            And 2. Banks today do not create money; the create fake money and destroy real money. And the refiner’s fire will consume them all.

          • JesseJames says:

            “Other parts of the world, like Venezuela, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen are actually slowly collapsing – but they have not yet *collapsed” “
            Add in Puerto Rico, Lebanon, Syria, Mexico and California.

  44. Ed says:

    There are three rates society can invest energy
    1) fast this produces growth
    2) just enough to maintain everything no growth
    3) just enough for the short run, things begin to break due to lack of repair, oil reserves decline due to lack of discovery, pipelines leak and fail, etc…

    As the supply of deteriorating stock grows the noticeable decline accelerates. I would say we are on #3 and by the end of the decade decline will be obvious to all.

    • I am sure we are not on 1) or 2).

      I expect that the situation will always look like there is enough energy for the short run, even though more and more people are being laid off from work, and many stores have empty shelves. Factories will be closed because of because of broken supply lines, but no one will connect this with inadequate energy supply. The prices will look too low for energy producers. No one will image that this is an energy problem.

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  46. Xabier says:

    Wonderful choice of image, Gail: I’ve travelled up and down that very escalator many a time when a miserable office rat. I can smell it even now. Ah, the nostalgia for those old days in a London, with people in it…..

    Merry Xmas, and good health for you and your family in 2021. Thank you for all your hard work.

    • You are welcome. I stay in good health. The healthcare system would go bankrupt with my patronage of it.

    • Robert Firth says:

      Agreed, a wonderful image. I also have ridden that rather alarming escalator, all the while thinking of Vergil’s “Fascilis descensus averno”. And I remember a London where the majority still spoke English.

  47. Great Britain is finally paying for centuries of warmongering in Europe.

    Let it have its fun ruled by Hindu. It liked the HIndus so much that it will get to be ruled by them, something they didn’t manage to do so when Britain conquered the Muslim Mughal dynasty.

  48. I imagine that the citizens of old empires had the same problem as the latest ones, that of denial.

    I’ve experienced this in trying to talk people out of the Brexit vote:

    ”No no—we want Britain to be as it used to be, ‘great’ again”. So the vote was ‘out’.

    Trying to point out that Britain was never going to be great again was tantamount to treason.

    Trying to point out why—using any or all of the above list is a real party killer.

    It seems a twin problem, on the one hand an awareness that the world situation has changed in some way, but an absolute denial that it will affect their personal situation, and in that respect things will just carry on BAU

    Even Mark Carney, on radio this morning was blathering on about the hydrogen economy. And he was Gov of Bank of Canada, and bank of England.


    Empires are created through energy surplus (either stolen or indigenous) They go on till that energy begins to run out. Then there is the denial phase, before the chaos of final collapse.

    Perhaps final collapse can only be seen in hindsight. The day when you realise your supermarket/filling station isn’t going to get restocked—or just as scary, when water doesn’t flow from the tap in your kitchen

    The American empire was a creation of the (seemingly unlimited) resources found by the early settlers. It’s gone now, in affordable terms, but the American way of life is non negotiable.
    A death-sentence in every way.

    • How are things like around your area? I have heard London is not doing too great.

      • I received an email from someone today who is a taxi driver near London, but not in London. He thinks he may have COVID for a second time now, this time with the new version of the virus. There are people who leave Zone 4 lockdowns and take a taxi to spots with better COVID ratings to party.

        I am fine. No problems here, except many phone calls per day about the Senate races. Also, the mail box is full of ads, and the web is full of advertising aimed at me.

        The weather app on my phone is saying 100% chance of snow tomorrow. It rarely snows in Atlanta.

      • London is a dead zone…just how long that can last is anybody’s guess, cities need traffic to thrive, whether roman empire or our later versions

        even my own little market town is the same though—heartbreaking to go there now,

        I only hope it isn’t the first stage of turning into the abandoned Roman city 7 miles down the road.

        as our local poet (Housman) put it:

        On Wenlock Edge the wood’s in trouble;
        His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;
        The gale, it plies the saplings double,
        And thick on Severn snow the leaves.

        ‘Twould blow like this through holt and hanger
        When Uricon the city stood:
        ‘Tis the old wind in the old anger,
        But then it threshed another wood.

        Then, ’twas before my time, the Roman
        At yonder heaving hill would stare:
        The blood that warms an English yeoman,
        The thoughts that hurt him, they were there.

        There, like the wind through woods in riot,
        Through him the gale of life blew high;
        The tree of man was never quiet:
        Then ’twas the Roman, now ’tis I.

        The gale, it plies the saplings double,
        It blows so hard, ’twill soon be gone:
        To-day the Roman and his trouble
        Are ashes under Uricon.

        leaves you wrecked—every time