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. Dennis L. says:

    Speed reading CHS, latest Musings, if you don’t subscribe, worth the money. Not every week is brilliant, nice to have a consistency, these are tough times, decisions are not easy. He is more day to day, I am day to day, large issues are beyond me.

    Sort of a joke, for me a good piece of real estate would be Gibraltar, a set of old naval guns and the best SAM missiles available. Toll booth, bitcoin anyone?

    “Having the skills to generate goods and services of intrinsic value is very much like “printing money with our time” because our skills make our time valuable, not in terms of what government currency is worth but in terms of the value others find in the goods and services we generate with our skills / time.”

    If you can, use a C corp as a business entity, taxes are currently low and benefits are same as Fortune 500 companies. Wealth is paying your expenses and a happy wife or significant other who is soft and can scratch where it itches. Peace of a significant other is beyond a price, place to heal one’s wounds, patch up and go back to battle the next day.

    Dennis L.

    • Robert Firth says:

      “A good woman is a prize above rubies.” Unfortunately, there is no touchstone for women.

      Perhaps in Kunstler’s “Long Emergency”, women will again demand that men be men, and men will again require that women be women.

  2. Artleads says:

    So this is what they are saying now:

    NBC News indicated today that the incidence of regular flu is down 98% for 3 reasons:
    1. Worldwide travel is significantly reduced, thereby reducing flu transmission between countries;
    2. 11 million more people this flu season have taken the regular flu shot due to awareness of the current situation; and
    3. The Covid precautions people are taking, like washing hands frequently, staying at home, masking, and observing 6′ distance are also effective in reducing the incidence of the regular flu!

    • Azure Kingfisher says:

      That’s cute. Nice find, Artleads. Fascinating how all of these virus precaution methods just can’t seem to reduce COVID-19 but they sure do work to reduce flu transmission. I just love following “the science.”

    • Xabier says:

      Just more vaccine+masks+home imprisonment propaganda, they won’t give up will they?

      Here the old marketplace, (at least 1,000 yrs old) very important in the life of the city, has just been closed by the city authorities and surrounded by tall steel barriers. ‘Indefinitely’, it seems, and of course because they want to save us from Covid. ‘Let’s Fight This Together!’ etc.

      I saw the barriers yesterday, and hoped it might have been temporary and just for the New Year, but as there was no sign to explain I had to look it up on the net to find the reason

      The truth is that it has been very busy,and too many people have been getting together there and leading a semblance of a normal life again – masks are not obligatory in the open air here, yet……

      Brainless local officials (they are always pretty dumb here) cooperating with Big Tech’s desire to destroy legacy and cash-based businesses…..

  3. Dennis L. says:


    Love him or hate him, the real action is not in cars but in space. He is working on a different way to land his boosters, this video claims most of his boosters are now “used.” This way of landing a rocket is clever, it uses “arms” at the top of the rocket to catch wires, arms from the launch platform, it is in the video.


    He certainly is faster than NASA and he has learned much from NASA. Some of this stuff seems incredible to me.

    Supposedly, his largest booster will be larger than Saturn V in thrust and lifting power. Also if I am understanding it correctly, it will be able to hover which should aid in being captured from the top of the rocket and not landing on its rocket motors.

    I am not fact checking, but China has returned maybe 6 kilos of moon back including a boring. Also, apparently some asteroid material has been returned.

    Serious people are recognizing the need for more materials, space is the place. Effectively through stock prices, they can print their own money, sort a private Federal Reserve. IN that case, as long as people accept the stock, price is not an object.

    Dennis L.

    • JesseJames says:

      “He certainly is faster than NASA”
      My understanding is that SpaceX is using an approach where they design a part or subsystem, and go directly to test, where in the traditional systems engineering approach followed by NASA, all designs are planned, scheduled, reviewed, design reviewed, analyzed for logistical, cost and reliability, and on and on, before anything ever gets built, not to mention tested.

      This new approach may result in failures, but then you redesign and retest all over again.
      I think the typical performances are of course analyzed, but the paper, reports, plans, presentations, reviews and approval cycles are dramatically shortened.

      This might be more akin to the SkunkWorks developments.

      • Robert Firth says:

        JesseJames, I have managed a few IT projects like that. Every document is subjected to immediate peer review; any work critical to safety, reliability or security is written twice, independently, and checked by a third party. Integration of work completed is continuous, as is regression testing.

        Everything is then reviewed by the Product Owner and the Voice of the Customer for clarity, usability, and an accurate understanding of the context of use.

        Bottom line: it works.

        • Kowalainen says:

          With the flaw being an obsessive focus on minutia. Cant discover the unknown unknown unless you build stuff and lit them up. Minimum viable product for the intended use by cutting out all the administrative-obsessive gold plating and red tape.

          Hire smart people instead of managing average ones. The average ones can’t understand your intent without detail. The smart ones takes your ideas and spins something new and surprising, that you haven’t even considered. To your delight.

          You know, being smart implies discovering how it feels being wrong faster than on average. Trying to out engineer unknown unknowns is a fools errand. Accept being wrong, learn, move on.

          Sort of like, yeah, life.


          • Robert Firth says:

            Thank you, Kowalainen, an excellent comment. I agree entirely about minimum viable product, but that didn’t always work. Incremental development, yes; incremental delivery, yes; but incremental deployment was in the hands of the customer organisation, and while the IT people understood why, their managers usually did not. They still believed in “big bang” deployment: release version N+1, and immediately phase out support for version N.

            And, as you say, one major flaw and this strategy falls apart. Like the flaw in the 737 MAX, which should never have been built, and which a thorough test of a prototype in a simulator would have told Boeing before several hundred people died.

            • Kowalainen says:

              Yup, they could have tacked on that subsystem on a retrofitted jet and flown it with the most senior and skilled aviators. NOT FROM BOEING. Perhaps FAA employed pilots of corporate pain.

              But not before testing the shit out of it in the simulator.

              Big Bang releases are juicy because there is plenty of spreadsheets, presentation decks and mouth flap to go with it. Customers, pfft, that is so last century. Duping them is easier than to make a good product.

              Split off the commercial part from Boeing and throw it to the wolves. I’m sure they can strip off some dead meat from that blob or mostly useless protoplasm and get it lean again.

              Yeah, right. People don’t fly anymore. 🙂

      • Xabier says:

        Isn’t this rather akin to the approach being taken with the accelerated vaccines? Straight to test/deployment skipping that boring old trial phase…..

  4. Dennis L. says:

    Thanks all for the macro views, they are interesting.

    Some years ago I posted link to an article which I self printed(I save paper articles, easier not to lose than digital ones) by a Chris Clugston regarding non-renewable articles. He seems to be connected to Resilience in some way and I have posted a link to a web site with a number of articles he has published over the past few years, some go back to 2009. They are fairly specific and it is my plan to read and re read them to see how his ideas compare to what is currently happening. This sort of research is helpful tome in deciding who to further read and who to not continue to study.


    My personal view is one must find a niche and make one’s self valuable to the group. Trust is everything and even when someone makes a mistake which if taken advantage of would be personally more profitable than fair, I avoid it, win once, lose the game. Disclaimer, I tend to mostly deal with those who can also be of help to me, probably not the most charitable.

    Some of you are reading Fitts, she is interesting; a point she has made continually is support your local sheriff. It never hurts to find their campaign fund and send a periodic check. It is a way of saying thanks, working on the niche.

    This is an uncomfortable time, each of us will find our own way in our own place, may 2021 be kind to all of us.

    Dennis L.

    • I do have Clugston’s book Scarcity. He recently had another book, “Blip”, which I didn’t have a chance to read yet.

      That aside, very few people talk about the obvious – if there are not enough resources to go around, the easiest option is to reduce consumers.

      • Kowalainen says:

        Or consumption reduction as a starter for people to get used to less tangible jank and more intangibles.

        I only buy gear that is of use or of passion. Food, shelter, tools, bicycles, audio gear and some audiovisual escapism on my smartphone.

        Got more than enough now. Gotta downsize some of the stuff I rarely use.

        For sure we are moving closer to the truth.



    • Country Joe says:

      Catherine Austin Fitts interview is very interesting. I used to read her stuff back several years ago on finance. I can’t remember what the stories were about but when I saw her name recently I had to check it out and have watched the hour+ video twice so far.

      • Country Joe says:

        She was Assistant Sec. of Housing and Urban Development under George H.W. Bush and served as managing director of Dillion, Reed & Co. on Wall St.
        In this interview she covers topics such as the population reduction, disappearing retirement funds, the role of Covid, money laundering, the problem of all the oldies, mind control technology and focused radio frequency weapons and a bunch of other good doomer stuff. Like I said above, I’ve only watched it twice

    • Chris Clugston posted his articles on The Oil Drum way back when. I was an editor at The Oil Drum.

      Chris Clugston’s articles got a lot of push back at The Oil Drum. What he interpreted as “scarcity,” was not really scarcity; it was high price. High price was more related to high demand (China plus a number of other countries wanting minerals, all at once). High prices are not equal to scarcity.

      The classic example of what Chris Clugston said was scarce was “aluminum.” According to the University of Wisconsin, aluminum makes up 8% of the earth’s crust. It is not scarce.

      Resilience publishes a wide variety of articles by authors who typically do not have their own web sites. Some are pretty good. Some aren’t quite so good.

      • Country Joe says:

        There seems to be lots of aluminum in the Earth, but then we‘ve got to deal with that energy thing to get a piece of metal.
        The quote below about “aluminium” is from an Aussie website.

        “The joke description of aluminium as “congealed electricity” is never far away.”

        World aluminum production in 2019 was approximately 64 million tons which required 64,000,000×15,000kWh equals 960,000,000,000 kWh of electricity.
        Less than a trillion so not that bad,

        “Although the newest smelters can be closer to 12,500 kWh per ton, let’s say most smelters are consuming electricity at 14,500-15,000 kWh/ton of ingot produced. With the LME at $1,300/metric ton, that means electricity should be costing a typical smelter $0.029/kWh.”

      • Dennis L. says:

        Somewhere I deleted the URL for the original paper I once referenced on this site, oops.

        A hand entered entry in this paper on NNR. “Crustal Occurrences: Huge quantities of nearly all NNRs exist in the undifferentiated earth’s crust. Unfortunately, crustal concentrations are too small in all cases to be economically viable. For example, economically viable iron ore concentrations are at least 6x greater than average crustal concentrations; zinc 30x greater, titanium 25-100 times greater, and for chromium 4000-5000x greater. Mining the undifferentiated earth’s crust is not a viable solution for perpetuating our industrial lifestyle paradigm. ”

        Gail, I think you had an effect on his ideas.

        An approximation of this paper appears at UndervaluedEquity.com, it is there somewhere, I printed it as per usual, did not copy the URL. He seems to have done some serious research, the original paper is well footnoted, I have not back referenced it however. Before I made any specific decisions, I would check the references and see if they are currently accurate.

        Dennis L.

        • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

          I would estimate that lunar crustal occurrences are just as poor.

          sorry, no research, I’m tired.

  5. Mirror on the wall says:

    Westminster poll: TP is set to lose its majority; hung parliament sets the scene for LP-SNP coalition. TP is between a rock and a hard place again: let Scotland have its referendum and go independent in the next few years – or risk this hung scenario and let LP govern next, who will have to let Scotland do it to form the government. Now might be as good a time as any for TP to cut Scotland loose. Obviously polling could change; post-Brexit polls should be interesting.

    > Detailed poll shows Boris Johnson risks losing his majority and his seat

    Anger over the handling of the coronavirus and Brexit would not only see new Tory voters in the north turn against the prime minister, a new poll suggests, but also cost him his own constituency

    Boris Johnson is losing his grip on the “red wall” seats that propelled him to power at the 2019 general election, according to a new poll conducted during the turbulent festive period.

    More than 22,000 people were surveyed in a constituency-by-constituency poll, which predicts that neither the Conservatives nor Labour would win an outright majority if an election were held tomorrow.

    According to the survey, conducted by the research data company Focaldata, the Conservatives would lose 81 seats, wiping out the 80-seat majority they won in December 2019.

    This would leave the Conservatives with 284 seats, while Labour would win 282 seats, an overall increase of 82.

    The Scottish National Party is predicted to win 57 of the 59 seats in Scotland, paving the way for a Labour-SNP coalition government.

    The findings will be interpreted as a vote of confidence in Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, who is a vehement opponent of Brexit and has won plaudits for her response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Of the constituencies that Labour would gain, half (41) are seats in the north of England, Midlands and Wales that voted Labour in 2017 before switching to the Tories in 2019, suggesting that the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, is on course to rebuild his party’s red wall.

    Labour is also predicted to win five London seats from the Conservatives, taking Chingford and Woodford Green, Chipping Barnet, Finchley and Golders Green, Hendon, and Kensington.

    The Conservatives cling on to just eight of the 43 red wall seats that they won at the last election — Bassetlaw, Bishop Auckland, Colne Valley, Dudley North, Great Grimsby, Penistone and Stocksbridge, Scunthorpe, and Sedgefield.

    The poll also reveals that the prime minister is on course to lose his own seat of Uxbridge and Ruislip South. Johnson won there last year defending a majority of 5,034 votes, the smallest of any sitting prime minister since 1924.

    “The SNP would appear to be the real winners. Not only do they win all but two Scottish constituencies, but the most likely outcome is a Labour-SNP coalition government, which would have an overall majority of just over 20 seats.”


    • Tim Groves says:

      We trusted you, Boris. And you failed us.

      Finchley and Golders Green? That calls for a song.


      • Mirror on the wall says:

        Yes, Thatcher’s old constituency.

        TP and LP had similar support in London from 1950s until 1980s. At the 1983 GE, Thatcher’s high point, TP took 43.9%, LP 29.8%; in 2019 TP got 32%, LP 48.1%.

        TP currently holds 21 seats and LP 49, LD 3 of the 73 in London. A drop to 16 would leave TP with just 22% of the London seats. According to this poll, LDs would hold only Kingston and Surbiton and that by a tight margin. LP would take ~80% of the London seats.

        SNP is set to take 57/59 Scottish seats. Boris on the Andrew Marr Show this morning, talking about referenda: “they don’t have a notably unifying force in the national mood.” LOL Straight out of the horse’s mouth. Scotland is looking pretty united after Brexit, certainly in MPs.

      • Mirror on the wall says:

        That has put me in the mood for a song.

        “And for bonnie Nicola Sturgeon, I will vote the SNP.” LOL

  6. Pingback: 2020: The Year Things Started Going Badly Wrong – geopolitic

  7. Azure Kingfisher says:

    What a year 2020 has been! Let’s see how well the U.N. has adhered to their sustainable development goals thus far, using 2020 as their own benchmark. For their 2030 goals, they’ve got 8 years, 11 months, and 29 days left before January 1, 2030.

    Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

    31. “We acknowledge that the UNFCCC is the primary international, intergovernmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change. We are determined to address decisively the threat posed by climate change and environmental degradation. The global nature of climate change calls for the widest possible international cooperation aimed at accelerating the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions and addressing adaptation to the adverse impacts of climate change. We note with grave concern the significant gap between the aggregate effect of Parties’ mitigation pledges in terms of global annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 and aggregate emission pathways consistent with having a likely chance of holding the increase in global average temperature below 2 °C or 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.“

    2.5 “By 2020, maintain the genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and their related wild species, including through soundly managed and diversified seed and plant banks at the national, regional and international levels, and promote access to and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, as internationally agreed.”

    3.6 “By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents.”

    4.b “By 2020, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries.“

    6.6 “By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes.”

    8.6 “By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training.”

    8.b “By 2020, develop and operationalize a global strategy for youth employment and implement the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organization.”

    9.c “Significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020.”

    11.b “By 2020, substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels.”

    12.4 “By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.”

    13.a “Implement the commitment undertaken by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible.”

    14.2 “By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans.”

    14.4 “By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics.”

    14.5 “By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information.”

    14.6 “By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation.”

    15.1 “By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements.”

    15.2 “By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally.”

    15.5 “Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species.”

    15.8 “By 2020, introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and control or eradicate the priority species.”

    15.9 “By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts.”


    • JMS says:

      The Road to Degrowth (and serfdom of course, plus a little culling but c’est la vie), toward a green lean world!! The future will be green, the living will be red. Red feeds green.

      It sounds like a pondered plan, and running very much on schedule now, thanks to the pandemic boost.

    • They do sound ambitious!

    • Robert Firth says:

      Alcedo Azurea, you forgot one:

      16.0 “In 2020, kick the can down the road to 2030, spout a lot more pious unachievable bovine end product, and pay yourselves handsomely for doing so.”

      • Azure Kingfisher says:

        Robert, it appears you’ve acquired a copy of the confidential version of the 2030 Agenda.

  8. JMS says:

    This is going from bad to worse. Now the virus is jumping from species to species like a maniac killer. After the papayas and infected goats found by the President of Tanzania months ago, we now have infected kiwis and coke! Gosh, i didn’t even know a Coke could get sick!
    Luckily, I never drink soft beverages nor eat papayas or goat meat, but I confess I ate a full kiwi a few days ago. And I don’t know if I’m infected or immunized now.

    Italy: Scientists Test A Kiwi Fruit For Covid

    Coca Cola Tests COVID-19 Positive In Austrian Parliament

  9. D3G says:

    This is also off topic, but I thought it to be a most amazing news story which might be of interest. Luckily this ended safely for the Airbus involved. While on landing approach to Bogota, an Airbus collided and got entangled with lines and streamers of a pyrotechnic balloon. Within the link is a video showing the aircraft after it had come to a stop on the runway. This could have brought down the aircraft if the engines had failed or the flight controls had been affected.


  10. Yoshua says:

    The virus is airborne and spreads through the plumbing in high rise buildings. Locking up people in their apartments with closed windows during winter is not going to stop the virus from spreading.


    • This may be part of the problem in ships as well. Or maybe, air in ships may simply be recirculated without enough filtering.

    • Adam says:

      Most sinks are fitted with p-traps, I am somewhat skeptical of this.

    • hkeithhenson says:

      “The virus is airborne and spreads through the plumbing in high rise buildings.”

      Only if the traps have dried out. That’s how the first SARs spread in the hotel, the floor drain traps didn’t have enough water in them to stop the air flow.

      “Locking up people in their apartments with closed windows during winter is not going to stop the virus from spreading.”

      There is a raw engineering solution you see on nurses who have spent months in the COVID ICU and not gotten the virus. What they have is a HEPA filter and a battery powered air pump with a helmet. With mass production, these $400 systems might get down to $100. People wearing one are very unlikely to get COVID.

      I built a crude version which I use to go shopping.

      Somehow people with a problem have gotten out of the habit of asking engineers how to solve it.

      Applies across a large range of problems, including energy.

      • Xabier says:

        Good for you, Keith: does anyone ever ask where they could buy one? It must attract interest?

        • hkeithhenson says:

          ” Keith: does anyone ever ask where they could buy one? It must attract interest?”

          I have had only two people ask what I was wearing in stores.

          3M makes them and there are lots of industrial supply places that sell them. The problem back when I built one was delivery. There were a lot of people, particularly ICU nurses, who figured out this was the way to avoid getting COVID and that pushed the delivers time at least 6 months out.

          I don’t think 3M pushed up the production, the bean counters may have decided that it was not profitable to increase production since the demand would fall after the pandemic was over and they would have investment that didn’t pay off. Or perhaps they could not get the air pump motors from China.

          Something like that happened with medical mask production, one of the smaller manufactures offered to push production way up, but he needed the Feds to back him because the project would not make enough money to pay off the investment (several million dollars).

          I was in Canada for the earlier version of a corona virus (SARs). I knew one of the ICU nurses (still do though we have not talked for a few years). One day she was just livid because toward the end of the first wave, the nurses were told to quit wearing masks and face shields because the pictures were “scaring the tourists.” Some of them did, some said “Fire me.” The result was a second wave, largely among medical people and a number of nurses died..

          • JesseJames says:

            Years ago, in anticipation of this biohazard thing, I bought a box of N100 masks. When wearing them during the early Covid business, anyone working in hospitals would recognize them and ask where we got them.

        • Root Bear says:

          I hear it’s the hottest thing for clubbing. Chicks dig it.

      • Dennis L. says:

        Something similar is very common with welding helmets, good rig with light sensing helmet about $1,700 per unit, well worth the price. Small masks which go under a helmet are available for much less, but the filters are very expensive due to size. Many heavy welding sites have the hood attached to shop air not unlike high level biological laboratories.

        When I was a student in research labs in the sixties we had UV lights which were turned on at night, only a simple switch and obligation of workers to turn off in the AM, probably wouldn’t fly in today’s world. Managing virus contamination is expensive and very difficult.

        Dennis L.

    • Ano737 says:

      The degree of confirmation bias here is astonishing! As Adam points out, the water that remains in the p-trap prevents the back flow of gas from the sewer. It doesn’t seem to occur to you that if not for this you would constantly smell sewage in your own home.

      But never mind all that. If a piece of “news” from anyone anywhere confirms what you want to believe it’s obviously true, and if it refutes it, it’s obviously fake news originating in an illuminati conspiracy. Sheesh.

      • This is why we allow comments from all directions here. If someone repeats something that is likely not true, there is a good chance some other commenter will catch the error. It is hard to learn anything, if we screen out everything.

        • Ano737 says:

          I agree and I appreciate your endless patience as you provide us with this forum. Thank you!

      • Tim Groves says:

        Water in the p-trap may stop bog-standard viruses, but Covid-19 is fitter, stronger and smarter than the average non-sentient not-quite-lifeform. It is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and is able to leap tall buildings at a single bound. It can survive on inert surfaces for weeks, jump from one supermarket isle to another, and even penetrate the average face mask. So it should have no trouble swimming up a U-bend and hanging out under the rim or round the bowl.

        More seriously, I have lived in multi-story apartment buildings in which the air vents from the kitchen extractor fans went into long “chimneys” and was let out through the roof of the building. I would often wake up to the smell of other people’s broiled fish leaking in through the vent and permeating the air of the apartment. Hotel and office building air conditioning vents may also opportunities for bugs of all kinds to travel from room to room on air currents depending on the design. Covid spreading from home to home or room to room under this architecture should not surprise anyone.

        • Ano737 says:

          Wait, so Covid19 isn’t a hoax after all? Or just a mild Flu variant? It’s getting difficult to keep up.

          More seriously, as you say, the old buildings in which that’s a problem are also much more ventilated, both by design and through structural deterioration which tends to counteract this problem.

          More importantly there is still a lot we don’t know about this virus. Different places with apparently similar characteristics have widely divergent outcomes.

          The certainty expressed by some is misplaced, if you’ll pardon the understatement.

          • Tim Groves says:

            I certainly agree with you about certainty often being misplaced.

            I’m no more of a medical expert than Gill Gates, but I lack his certainty. My default position is that I don’t know if Covid19 is a hoax or if it’s a real new virus or even how infectious and how dangerous it may be.

            I merely observe that people are not keeling over and dropping dead in the streets from Covid-19 like we were told they were last winter in Wuhan. We are getting a few reports of people keeling over and dropping dead shortly after being vaccinated, but that’s another story.

            I feel fairly sure that some viral diseases exist and are infectious based on personal experience. In the past five years I have come down with norovirus and two bad colds after attending gatherings in places where other people suffered similar symptoms at the same time. Virus infection is the most credible explanation I’ve heard for this type of disease.

            On the other hand, there have been numerous times when I caught a bad cold but other family members living at close quarters didn’t get it, and vice versa.

            Also, my local GP has had close physical contact with dozens of patients six days a week for four decades, many with colds, fevers, flu or pneumonia at this time of year. He never wears a mask and never seems to get sick. He must have breathed in every germ going. And so I ask my self, why isn’t he dead yet?

            Also, I live in a rural area where social distancing is a way of life. I sometimes go a week or more without coming within two meters of anybody. Yet sometimes I come down with a cold without there being any obvious human contact that could account for the spread. A walk in the rain at any season can result in the symptoms of a cold or a fever. I have no idea if a virus is causing this or if it is simply a bodily reaction to getting cold and wet, or to breathing in raindrops or damp air, or to being affected by the change of air pressure or of electric charge in the atmosphere.

            It’s people who speak as if they know everything about everything that get right up my nose. I think I’m allergic to them.

            • Harry McGibbs says:

              I have a friend in his 40’s, ex-army and very fit, who was hospitalised with covid just before Xmas. He remains in hospital now. I also know two people through work who have died – both BAME and in their 60’s.

              On the flipside, my 80-year-old aunt had covid for a week in Oct and said it was very bearable – just an annoyingly persistent cough and headache, although her sense of smell has yet to return. She is still impervious to even very strong smells like bleach, she says.

              Even further on the flipside, a friend of my parents was surprised by a positive test result prior to an elective operation, as he was asymptomatic aside from a barely perceptible headache.

              So, who knows? I prefer the evidence of people I know personally to the hysteria of the papers and that evidence, thin and anecdotal though it is, suggests to me that there is a novel virus doing the rounds and that it *can*, if you are very unlucky or belong to a high risk group, be nasty. But worth torpedoing economies for? No.

            • Thanks!

              Also, everybody, be sure to take vitamin D to keep down the chance of a bad case. This is especially necessary for older people and those with dark skin living in climates away from the equator. A typical required dose, per day, is 2000 IU (or 50 mcg).

              And, keep watching news about ivermectin trials. If there is enough proof, maybe we can get health care providers to start prescribing it. It shows promise of working at all stages of the disease. If is cheap and has been used for about 50 years on both humans and animals; there are a few gastrointestinal side effects, but that seems to be all. This is bad news from the point of vaccine makers, so we don’t hear much from the main street media.

            • Yorchichan says:

              I’ve never thought covid-19 was a hoax because I’ve spoken to too many people who have had it and too many nurses who have given me horrific accounts of their time working on covid wards. Still, I thought that due to my health and fitness covid-19 was no threat to me. Normally, I train in Chinese Martial Arts 1.5 hours every morning and at 55 I’m slim and can do more of every exercise than I ever could in my teens or twenties. I have the world’s healthiest diet (the Plant Paradox diet, as I’ve mentioned before) and never touch alcohol.

              A fortnight ago I drove my taxi around at the weekend as I usually do. Most of my passengers were out-of-towners from Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester and even Peterborough. They’d come to York because we were in a lower tier in which bars and restaurants were still open. As usual, I didn’t care whether my passengers wore masks in my car or not and I didn’t wear a mask either.

              On the Tuesday following that weekend, 12 days ago now, I got ill and it is much worse than any illness I’ve ever had before. Way back in March I’d thought I had covid-19, but it was nothing like this. Fever, persistent cough, headache, nausea, chest pain, fatigue, chills, difficulty breathing. Quite important that last symptom. My 43 year old wife became ill three days after me. All the same symptoms, except she lost her smell and taste too. In our 23 years together I’ve never before known her so ill that she couldn’t get out of bed. For a while, both of us weren’t sure if we were going to make it. I think we are both out of danger now, but full recovery seems a long way off. On the other hand, our two teenage children have not had so much as a sniffle.

              So, don’t doubt the seriousness of covid-19. It’s an illness you really don’t want to get.

            • JesseJames says:

              And be sure to take zinc, or even better, a zinc ionophore, that helps cells fight off viral activity. I am taking Quercetin.

              We also taking 5000 in per day of Vit D.

            • Alan Kirk says:

              And the weird part about all of this, is whatever conclusion you come to after evaluating all this information…is when you are laying in the ICU attached to a ventilator, or if its not you, but someone you care for, you will probably come to a different conclusion.

            • nope

              some people can’t exist without plots hoaxes and conspiracies

              Surely you’ve heard that Bill Gates is an evil mastermind bent on global domination?

              And that every dose of vaccine contains a microchip that will allow George Soros to know exactly where you are at all times?

              I believe the same people who make the microchips are those who make them for cats and dogs. Gates and Soros have taken over those companies and are set to make billions.

            • Tim Groves says:

              Thanks, guys! These were some good responses, and I am sure they were honest and sincere too.

              Yorchichan in particular, please accept my best wishes and hopes that you and your wife will make a full recovery. You’ve learned from bitter first-hand experience that there is a nasty infection on the loose.

              It seems that Larry King has it now and is in hospital with it. And as an 87-year-old who has suffered from heart disease and a stroke and is diabetic, his chances of pulling through are iffy.

              But not to put to fine a point on it, colds and flu kill the old and sick too. Xabier said something a few months back about pneumonia being regarded as the old people’s friend because it kills relatively quickly and relatively painlessly those whose quality of life is often very low anyway.

              As an example, take the children’s book writer John Burningham, who I knew personally and worked with on several occasions although I hadn’t seen him in over 20 years. I was saddened to learn from a news report in 2019 that he died in London on 4 January of that year at the age of 82 after contracting pneumonia.

              John was a lifetime smoker at least into his sixties (although he conceded it was “a filthy habit”) and was very fond of a glass of Burgundy. He remained active and working until as recently as 2016. But age and vices will catch up with an immune system eventually. Probably he caught a chill or a cold that a younger person would have shrugged off. It went to his chest and that was that.

              Had he been spared death, I expect he would have said it was worse than any illness he had ever had before.

              If he’d hung on until 2020 and then caught the exact same bug, caught a chill, developed pneumonia, and died of it, what do you think would have been on the death certificate?

              My own “bad cold” which was the worst illness I can remember having, came at the same time JB was dying, so we may have had the same virus. For me, it began as a head cold, and then created a stuffy nose and took up residence in the my throat, giving me three weeks of agony with a gullet so enflamed that it felt like I’d drank a glass of nitric acid. I spent those three weeks dowsing the flames with lemon and honey in hot water, various throat lozenges, complemented by extra strength Fishermen’s Friend, gargling with bicarbonate of soda and sea salt, lots of vitamin C, ginger, garlic, and anything home-remedyish I could lay my hands on, Fortunately, it didn’t go to the chest.

              It wasn’t Covid-19 as it was a full year too early to be that, but if I had the same bug now, I would strongly suspect that it was.

            • Tim Groves says:

              Yes, some very good comments.

              And then there was Norman’s.

              some people can’t exist without plots hoaxes and conspiracies

              Who could possibly argue with this factoid. We all know such people. Some of us see them in the mirror. 🙂

              And yet, there are plots, there are hoaxes, and there are conspiracies. In human society, deception is ubiquitous. And people who don’t sufficiently appreciate that are at risk of loosing their post office savings to strangers claiming to be their long lost grandson.

              There is a term called “blackwashing”. It is not very widely known. I myself picked it up from Miles Mathis. In a nutshell, it is the use of controlled opposition characters to damage the credibility of those who are pointing out plots, hoaxes and conspiracies.

              Take Alex Jones, for instance. His act is to look and act loud, obnoxious and unhinged while making claims about things like globalism, 9-eleven, the Clintons, Jeffrey Epstein, the current election dispute, with the result that honest, earnest and sincere people investigating such issues can be tarred with the same brush as birds of a feather with this certifiably loony conspiracy theorist.

              Another example is David Icke, who’s reptlllian musings and idiosyncratic over-enthusiastic style of delivery put him beyond the pale.

              As blackwashers, people like Jones and Icke have a role of telling some truths, sharing some ideas and revealing some facts that the powerful would rather the mass of people remained unaware of, but to mix in some crazy stuff and with an oddball style of delivery that allows them and all the ideas they are associated with and all the other people associated with those ideas to be dismissed as cranks by superior minds such as Norman.

              If you want to blackwash an idea or a movement, just get Jones or Icke or one of their fellow travellers to endorse it. And you’ve got it sorted!

            • Yorchichan says:

              Thank you Tim for your get well wishes. It’s hard to reconcile how ill my wife and I have felt with the statistic I keep hearing that there have been fewer than 400 people in the UK under the age of 60 who have died from covid-19 without having co-morbidities. The figure seems impossibly small for such a serious illness.

            • Jarle says:

              Tim, your writings represents a shining example of keeping ones feet on the ground, thank you!

      • Ed says:

        My a… uh. “friend” went to West Virginia two wees ago and stayed in a hotel that had close to zero business. He found his smoke free bathroom smelling like smoke and noise from the tube drain. He thought dry p-trap and ran the water for some time but it did not fix the issue. Instead turned on fan and closed door too bathroom problem dealt with. He has no idea what the plumbing was but it stank of cigarette smoke not sewage.

    • Xabier says:

      I know, it’s terrifying!

      And I’ll tell you something else, it can leap out of the plumbing and hide under one’s bed -alongside Putin, that sneaky devil – ready to pounce in the night.

      This is why I always send my dog under the bed to flush them both out before laying my head down for a good night’s sleep.

      But, seriously, it is impossible to eradicate and we must just learn to live with yet another mild endemic disease. Oh, but Uncle Bill Gates says otherwise……

  11. Malcopian says:

    Off-topic, who knows of any folk remedies for migraine?

    “I’ve been suffering from migraines for 2 weeks so not much fun.” – So says my downstairs neighbour.

    • D3G says:

      A whole foods, plant based diet is reortedly effective in reducing migraine headache frequency and severity. But you will likely get a lot of pushback with that suggestion. When only a folk remedy will do, try a strong ginger tea. Good luck. D3G

    • hkeithhenson says:

      ““I’ve been suffering from migraines for 2 weeks so not much fun.” – So says my downstairs neighbour.”

      Benadryl (diphenhydramine). Migraine is an effect of blood vessels relaxing in the brain, so vascular constrictors work against it. Nitroglycerin is a vascular dilator and gives a headache that many people say is similar to migraine.

      However, two weeks is a long time. Given COVID, your neighbor might not want to go to his doctor, but he might be able to get a video appointment and at least discuss it.

    • One woman I know who used to be plagued by migraines found that she was allergic to gluten. As soon as she changed her diet to eliminate gluten, the migraines went away. I suppose that there could be other allergies that also act as a trigger.

    • Bei Dawei says:

      Cayce neck (head roll) exercise. See pp. 11-12:


  12. Herbie Ficklestein says:

    Crisis! What CRISIS!?😷🤑👍🤗
    Washington Post By Christopher Ingraham
    Jan. 1, 2021 at 6:00 a.m. EST
    The pandemic has forced untold hardships onto many Americans, with tens of millions of families now reporting that they don’t have enough to eat and millions more out of work on account of layoffs and lockdowns.
    America’s wealthiest, on the other hand, had a very different kind of year: Billionaires as a class have added about $1 trillion to their total net worth since the pandemic began. And roughly one-fifth of that haul flowed into the pockets of just two men: Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon (and owner of The Washington Post), and Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX fame.

    Seems reasonable to a certain circle 🔴, after all there is the Ownership Society and the don’t own anything rental peons …just the natural order of the Universe….

    • There are a lot of “help wanted” signs (for low paying positions) and not many beggars around here, at least that I have noticed.

      It seems like quite a few of the people who were laid off from work here are getting along somehow-perhaps not paying their rent, or moving in with family, or getting a job doing deliveries of one kind or another.

  13. Kowalainen says:

    Pompeo laid down the siege on the spyware peddler company #1. Became best buddies with the CCP/Huawei once the transcontinental fibers and regular networking gear became the norm and it wasn’t that easy to gain an unfair business advantage with various spying and blackmailing shenanigans. Inbred sociopath muppets doing what they do best. Suck. Stockholm syndrome and the Swedish institute. Let it burn.

    “Hallberg told DN that she had not had any contact with PTS and would never step in as minister and influence the decisions of individual authorities. She added that she didn’t meet with Ekholm at any point.

    The exchange follows comments by Jacob Wallenberg, deputy chair of Ericsson’s board of directors, who said that “stopping Huawei is definitely not good,” according to an interview in the same newspaper on Dec. 25.

    The Swedish telecom giant derives about 10% of its sales from China and is Huawei’s biggest rival in the market for cellular radio equipment. China warned that Swedish companies may face “negative impacts” from the ban if the decision wasn’t revoked. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said the government stood by the authority’s assessment.”

    Good fucking riddance. Chop ‘er up and feed the carcass to the dogs.


  14. Xabier says:

    Neil Ferguson, who produced the defective (by intention?) modeI which was used to justify the first lock-down in the UK, has said that ‘lock-downs are now orthodoxy.’

    So, yes, they will now reach for that whenever they please as a tool of social and political repression disguised as a ‘health’ measure. In emergency, of course: but the emergencies will never, need never, end.

    I was pleased to see in town today that Project Fear hasn’t really worked here: mask wearing in the street, which went up from about 5% to over 50% in the late autumn, above among the young and middle-aged, has gone down to no more than 2% or so – despite the super-nasty mutation which ‘could destroy the crappy old NHS’ that they have been trying to scare us with in the UK.

    But all the dark, closed shops leave a heavy heart.

    However, this is just a lull, having broken us in last year, the possibilities of micro-control must seem infinite to the plotters. They will now try to advance asap to the ‘health passports’ and of course the demonisation of those who decline the vaccines as ‘a selfish threat to all’. I see signs on the internet already that people will turn against them, in fear.

    On the contrary, anyone of sufficient education who willingly takes the vaccines is letting down the side of humanity, very selfishly indeed. We still have sufficient accurate data about the disease to know that a mass vaccination programme is simply not justified.

    Things look very grim. It soon won’t matter if most people – rather than just an observant sceptical minority – come to see through it all, just so long as they can be compelled, and the regulations, masks etc, enforced by the police and courts.

    We have reached the point when facts, proper scientific method and logic no longer apply, let alone civil and human rights. Those who fight this, scientists and even lawyers of repute, are not shot (for now) but simply ignored and censored.

    Some seem to hope for some kind of a mass rebellion when the vast wave of redundancies breaks later this year:

    It seems more likely that there may well be disorder, but it will be crushed and merely serve as a pretext for martial law, which is the next step up in control. No fines then, but bullets.

    Anyway,as the 20th century showed us time and again, unemployed, poor, people with no hope and who have lost the structure for the lives just tend to drink or drug themselves to death and fall into self-destructive behaviour, not rebel successfully. Or they could be diverted into controlled political movements that go nowhere.

    This is also being constructed so that a sufficient % of the population are still very much OK: the better-off home-working and saving lots of cash for now, the poorer ones still working in logistics, the big warehouses and in supermarkets: they will not hit the streets in protest. Why risk what you still have?

  15. Herbie R Ficklestein says:

    Watched a post by George Gammon on YouTube
    Seems the World Health Organization feels to think that
    WHO Warns Of Virus 2.0! Are Masks & Lockdowns Here To Stay

    Don’t watch the whole video only 😉 the ending wrap-up, that’s the meat of it

    Start around 27 minutes .

  16. Jimothy says:

    I would also like to say:

    Gail once said, perhaps in the comments, that coal is perhaps at least as important as oil in the grand scheme of things. I believe this was said two or three years ago. I agree with her, and have been thinking about this a lot lately. Yes, it lacks some of the versatility of liquid fuels, but remains a critical part of the system. Much of our extend and pretend has been predicated on cheap coal

    64 jobs lost with the closure of this plant. Does not bode well in an economy already ravaged. Of course, just a drop in the bucket:


    • Herbie R Ficklestein says:

      That reminds me of the classic book by John Vivian, who is 86 years old now, who wrote Practical Manuel of Homesteading published in the 1970s in the heyday of the energy crisis. Great read and still of value today and be had on Amazon for about $5.00!
      His advice at the ending chapter was it may be wise to have access of abandoned seems of COAL! Suppose the fear of Peak Oil caused anxiety to many of a folk. Lucky him and his family that it was delayed during his lifetime for all practical purposes.
      John also wrote a few other titles like Building a Stone Wall, might come in handy again…

      • hadn’t heard of that book, thanks, I love it already

        ‘best the have access to abandoned seams of coal’ has to be best bit–especially as I have just that 50 feet below my desk here.
        now all I have to do is figure out a way of getting at it.

        best thing about coming across a real idiot, is that it makes one’s own stupidities seem less critical

    • Right! Coal is terribly important. If renewables are to have a place in the world, they need to do everything coal can do, even more cheaply than coal. But they can’t, without subsidies that come indirectly from fossil fuel burning.

      • JesseJames says:

        I pick up pieces of coal on the surface on my place here in Alabama. A friend near Birmingham was digging a retaining wall and came across a coal seam.

        It seems that Alabama is the second greatest exporter of electrical power of all 50 states. A lot of it fired by coal.

      • hkeithhenson says:

        “But they can’t, without subsidies that come indirectly from fossil fuel burning”

        Gail, that’s an engineering conclusion that I don’t think is justified. Can you provide an example or a list of things that you think can’t be done without burning fossil fuels?

        • The big issue is the intermittency of wind and today’s solar. People want to compare the cost of their output to the cost of wholesale electricity, but intermittent renewables really only replace fuel. It is necessary to keep most of the rest of the system in place, so that electricity can be produced when these types of electricity are not available. Intermittents get the subsidy of going first on systems with much fossil fuel. They can’t expect this long term.

          • hkeithhenson says:

            > The big issue is the intermittency of wind and today’s solar. People want to compare the cost of their output to the cost of wholesale electricity, but intermittent renewables really only replace fuel. It is necessary to keep most of the rest of the system in place, so that electricity can be produced when these types of electricity are not available. Intermittents get the subsidy of going first on systems with much fossil fuel. They can’t expect this long term.

            What this means is that engineers will have to come up with ways to use or store intermittent energy sources. At least two major steel companies are talking about going carbon neutral. There is no reason we cannot make steel by batch processes when the sun is up.

            Storage is making rapid progress. Only about 1/3rd of energy goes through electricity. Even if cars are electrified, there will be considerable demand for fuel, and that can be made from intermittent PV for about the same price we pay for it now.

            The other thing that can be done with intermittent power is to pull CO2 out of the air.

            • The big intermittency is the lack of heat in winter. Storing electricity from summer to winter doesn’t work. Trying to get citizens to change their pattern of energy usage doesn’t fix this issue either. We cannot hibernate in winter.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              The big intermittency is the lack of heat in winter. Storing electricity from summer to winter doesn’t work.

              So far that’s true. But it sure looks like we could make reasonable priced synthetic fuel and that certainly will store summer to winter. We could even store it in empty oil fields.

              “Trying to get citizens to change their pattern of energy usage doesn’t fix this issue either. We cannot hibernate in winter.”

              That’s a thought but biology is not up to it yet. However, we could go to electrically heated clothing where it would take at most hundreds of watts to keep a person warm rather than kW to warm the whole house. Can’t let it get too cold though or the water starts coming out of the faucet in chunks.

              Of course, global warming may make the heating less of a problem.

        • yup

          the ‘can’t be done’ list would take forever

          ‘can be done’ would be a very short list

          you can collect and save seed and tubers from food plants

          then break off a stick for digging holes

          dig holes

          plant seed or tubers, cook and eat when grown.
          build ditches and fences with antler-bones. use bone needles and sinew-thread to stitch furs together.

          make. metal objects using wood-charcoal but only in very small quantities.

    • taketwotheirsmall says:

      More easy to mine coal post collapse. Good thing.

      • There may be some easy to mine coal in Alaska and in Montana, but it is not near anything else, including transportation. This is why the coal hasn’t been developed to date. It is hard to imagine that anything will change in the future. The inflation-adjusted acceptable delivered price of coal will not rise, way higher than it has been in the past, as far as I can see.

        I think it would be difficult to put together anything close to a complete system in these difficult-to-access locations. There would need to be a way to use the coal for manufacturing goods. There would be a need for a variety of foods as well, grown in that location.

        Even trying to burn the coal, and ship the electricity elsewhere over transmission lines would be a challenge, because bothe the coal plants and the transmission lines would need to be built. The coal plants would require an adequate water supply.

      • lololololol

        have you ever been near a coalmine, or watched the production process that brings coal to the pithead and then distributed?

        I have, including driving a coal delivery truck and heaving 112lb bags of it door to door. (interesting vacation job)

        This is pre-industrial mining:

        dig a hole, then use your judgement to get out before the whole thing collapsed in on you.

        they were still doing it 100 years ago, theres a photo at the bottom of this article:


        a group of my grandfather’s friends getting coal that way during a miner’s strike in 1910.
        It was moved and sold with a 1 mile radius of that hole in the ground. They knew nothing about EROEI–they just knew that shifting coal by hand beyond about 0.5 m radius was pointless.

  17. Jimothy says:

    As a farmer, I would humbly submit that the following regions are likely to be suitable for some level of subsistence or even small scale farming going forward, provided a few conditions are met. (Conditions are listed at the end)

    1. The northeast, especially the parts that are USDA growing zones 5 and up and have a 120 day+ growing season.

    2. Parts of the upper Midwest

    3. Perhaps the southern reaches of the Midwest, including the ozarks (is that Midwest?)

    4. Maybe–maybe–parts of the coastal pacific northwest.

    5. Maybe Appalachia

    These regions all have water and soil that either is intact or has recovered from the days when it was farmed. They all have decent growing seasons and rate of growth on trees for lumber and firewood.


    That farmers not be overrun and killed by others

    That somehow there’s enough transition time and energy to transition

    Yes, I know it’s a long shot. Just saying.

    If you go too far north winter becomes a major limiting factor. I see lots of young couples online who are moving to Montana, alaska, and michigan to homestead. Fools.

    • Kowalainen says:

      Montana & Michigan, that’s balmy. Alaska, fair enough. 🙂

      A true Laplander scoffs at the comforts of primate shenanigans below the Arctic circle. A real Viking lives in Hålogaland, eats wildlife, berries and raids the decadent British isles, Gaul and Iberian peninsula for shits and giggles.

      The winter is a season of play, cozy ass darkness. Soothing despair and comforting hopelessness. Repeat after me, fsck hope, embrace the icy void.

      • Mirror on the wall says:


        You should ‘man up’ and live in Hammerfest, you pampered FF princess.

        Yes, Britain used to a larder and an outing for the Vikings; get tanked up on mead and give the princesses a visit; show them what a real man looks like.

        Now you want AI to provide you with all of your comforts, you princess.

        That is why you are always going on about it – princess gotta have her pampered life.

        : )

        • Kowalainen says:

          Now we are talking mirror, that’s how to deal with the Laplander. What took you so long? 🤣👍

          Well, of course I want the AI to do my biddings. To be the future ruler of earth by abdication as my first decree.

          By the way, we need better tools for AI. Some wanky python with libraries won’t cut it. I want AI to give me better tools for AI. Otherwise, I’ll sit on my entitled princess lazy ass being obnoxious and proceeding with my useless eatery.

          And good luck making proper sentient AI without my superb intellect. 🤪

      • Mirror on the wall says:

        Glacial ambient – tunes are for princesses.

    • you are quite right

      I’m surprised that people seeking ‘subsistence farming’ don’t look it up in the dictionary first

    • Another issue for the northerner scenario is the possibility of abrupt weather change for even bigger cold, e.g. when the heat loop transferring warmer water towards Iceland/Greenland and Europe slows or shuts down completely this would affect NA as well. This has been discussed and linked numerous times on this blog already.

      Then you hardly get ~90-120 days of growing season and even the more skilled and equipped won’t make it either. This could happen nowadays any minute or centuries, millennia into the future, too complex to predict (supposedly).

      People are moving north because they are young (“don’t need” hospitals and other services for now), acreage is cheap and incl. building material + energy (wood). However, few appreciate how fragile and unstable these “assured conditions for ever” actually in reality are.. possible large scale droughts, fires, bugs or the mini (or BIG) Ice Age return, etc.

    • taketwotheirsmall says:

      You might well be right.

      Theres more people where you mention.

      The trouble with having something nice is you gotta keep it.

      That takes resources.

      -30 weather might help with that.

      You can get a crop in if not too far north. Not two.

      Theres coal in some of the places you mention too.

      Not sure any time left. If you had a bunch of cash perhaps you could get homestead in.

    • Denial says:

      Montana will be burning all summer mark my words…they are already way below on snow pack.

  18. Artleads says:

    Does anyone know about this? Written in 2017. Never heard about it before. One problem is the report of such a dream project without looking under the hood to see if it’s reality.


    A fairly horrifying sight, reminding of the movie “Blade Runner.” But vertical farming is REALLY a happening thing right now.

    • Dennis L. says:


      It seems to me that a large part of farming is collecting solar energy, my crops do that all through the growing season, too much rain, too little sun, etc. can be an issue.

      This looks as though it relies on electrical lighting. It can be done, but all the solar input is gone.

      Interesting to see how many of these pallets are required to equal one acre.

      Not negative, it seems awfully complicated.

      Dennis L.

    • DJ says:

      I suppose they only farm greens costing about €/$50 per kg. Not even tomatoes or something, much less anything you could live on.

    • This organization is privately owned. My guess is that it is getting funding of some sort for doing “green” things. I found a link to this website, which seems to be somewhat related.

      12 Steps to become an Urban or Vertical Farmer

      The operation depends on finding some bank or other organization to lend funds for the project. It also depends on city water being available to operate the system, and all of the nutrients needed to make the system work being able to be shipped in. In short, it depends of the continuation of globalization. I expect that it also depends on being able to sell something like high priced greens to fancy restaurants. It is a good way to use more concrete and steel.

      • Xabier says:

        Yes, Gil, they, as with so many of these pseud- Green projects, are stepping forward boldly into a futuristic venture that captures subsidies and tax-breaks today….

      • Artleads says:

        So there it is; it operates they way it looks–the vision of hell!

        Vile looking things don’t work. Our eyes are not there for nothing.

        On a lighter note, I liked Norman’s suggestion (now supported by Dennis L) that plants need sun. That does limit them to a modest size, and a location at the top layer of a structure.

        So, no, we won’t go with this Blade Runner scenario that depends on subsidies, delusion and LED lighting. But it’s likely not to work to demolish abandoned buildings either, since that requires tons of energy to do, and multitudes of space to sequester what you tear down.

    • taketwotheirsmall says:

      mmm hmmm. LEDs. Any food production that doesnt take light out of the tap is doomed to failure. (sun)

    • Ed says:

      I would like to know how many dollars of electric per food calorie?

  19. Tim Groves says:

    “I don’t want to underestimate the ability of the leadership to introduce pathogens that can kill people, and I don’t want to suggest that people aren’t getting sick. But Essentially, what you’re trying to do is you are to get people to buy into a solution before they see where it’s ultimately going to go.”

    Catherine Austin Fitts talks about the Reset—the end of the current currency system and its replacement with a new digital transaction system that is no longer a currency but a control system—and the virus, pandemic and lockdown as tools towards achieving this end.


    • JMS says:

      Thanks for that. Four minutes of the video was enough to make me realize that I should have paid more attention to C. Austin Fitts. Pretty sharp she is IMO. Now I’m going back to the rest of the interview.

    • Tim Groves says:

      This is an intriguing theory that explains much about why the US and the UK are locking down harder than common sense suggests is rational, while many of the powerful people doing the locking down are ignoring their own health rules.

      From the transcript:

      I used to call the Patriot Act the Concentration and Control of Cash Flow Act, and this is a very similar process. You’re trying to dramatically centralize economic and political control so let me give you an example.

      We have 100 small businesses on main street in a community. You declare them non-essential shut them down suddenly. Amazon and Walmart and the big box stores can
      come in and take away all the market share. In the meantime the people on main street have to keep paying off their credit cards or their mortgage, so they’re in a debt entrapment and they’re desperate to get cash flow to cover basically their debts and their
      day-to-day expenses.

      In the meantime you have the federal reserve institute a form of quantitative easing where they’re buying corporate bonds and the and the guys who are taking up the market share can basically finance at zero to one percent or their banks can at zero to one percent when everybody in main street is paying 16 to 17 percent on their credit cards, without income.

      So basically now you’ve got them over a barrel and you can take away their market share
      and generally they can’t afford to do what they say because they’re too busy trying to find
      money to feed their kids.

      In the 2016 election cycle, we saw the general population support candidates who represented populism in a variety of different ways. So Bernie Sanders was a populist relative to the other candidates. Donald Trump was a populist relative to the other candidates. And literally what the sort of global capital class realized was they had a problem that could be solved by destroying the independent income of small business and and solo practitioners and people who had independent forms of income.

      So if you’re a doctor, if you’re a lawyer, if you’re a CPA, and you have your own practice you are generally gonna support the populist candidates and so the way to shut the populist candidates down and just shut off their income and support, which is you put main street out of business and then there’s nobody to finance a Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump. There’s nobody to support him.

      So I mean, do do those the lockdown measures appear to be it’s more of an economic thing than a virus mitigation plan.

    • Tim Groves says:

      One more portion, to give a better taste of were she’s going with this. If you listened to George Carlin back in the day, you knew all along that they were coming for your social security and that they’d take it all in the end.

      So I would describe what covid19 is as a the institution of controls necessary to convert the planet from democratic process to technocracy.

      So what we’re watching is a change in control and an engineering of new control systems so think of this as a coup d’etat. It’s much more like a coup d’etat than a virus.

      So for 20 some years in the United States we’ve had a financial coup d’etat, and we knew in at the end of 1995 a decision was made to move much of the assets and money out of the country that was part of sort of bubbling the global economy of globalization, and they knew that once they’d finished moving all those assets that they would have to consolidate and change the the fundamental system.

      So after the financial coup, you you’ve stolen all the money in the pension funds, you’ve stolen all the money in the government, and now rather than turn and tell people, “Well, we stole your money,” you need an excuse that will allow you to consolidate and change the fundamental system and so you have a magic virus and the magic virus is, “Oh, you know, we have to fundamentally change the system” and “You know, thanks to the magic virus, there’s no money in social security, thanks to the magic virus there’s no money in the treasury, you know,” and you have your perfect magic excuse everything can be, “Yeah, the magic virus, and, you know, it’s amazing because because every implication of the financial coup has been magically solved by the magic virus.

      It’s quite— if you’re a financial person and you look at the world through the mathematics of time and money—it’s quite amazing that anybody believes it, but they do. Yeah, right, right, it’s part it’s part of joining the, you know, what CJ Hopkins calls the Covidian Cult. You join the cult and you say, “Oh yeah yeah yeah, well the magic virus took all the money from social security, the magic virus caused our pension funds to not be sufficient blah blah blah blah blah.

      • Xabier says:

        She is bang on the money.

        It’s shaping up as a kind of ‘Techno-Bolshevik’ coup d’etat.

        Like the Bolshevik’s, who took the excellent idea of destroying the Romanov autocracy and subverted it to their own ends, not caring what harm they caused in the process (see Trotsky’s ‘justification’ of revolutionary violence) they are now attempting to over-turn ‘legacy’ businesses, institutions and social customs (goodbye Christmas!) and put in place a digital technocracy under the cover of ‘saving lives’.

        Millions of unemployed as businesses are shut down? Who cares?! Is their fundamentally revolutionary attitude. The erasure of history through book censorship and the destruction of monuments, even of language itself, are no accident.

        Governmental, and academic/scientific incompetence and corruption are simply not adequate explanations for what is going on, although they do play a part, as there are several levels to this and very few indeed are among the core planners and benficiaries.

        The have a clear aim, and they are ruthless, just like the Bolsheviks. Observing the callous attitude to those destroyed by the lock-downs, and the determination with which they are maintaining this great lie, one can only fear greatly what is to come next – so much of it already signalled to us over the last few years by their institutes and foundations, even in films.

        Ironically, for years now the youth of Europe have told pollsters that they ‘want a revolution’: well, here it is kids, and its a totally dispossessed and monitored techno-slavery imposed by oligarchs – not at all what you dreamed of! The i-phone is your slave-brand, soon to be substituted, no doubt, by something more permanent….

        It is being said that one should not really fear the proposed Great Re-set, as it must fail for energy and reasons and so on, that it is built on fantasy.

        True, and everything human fails anyway, but this may go on long enough and deep enough to wreck our lives and societies en masse. They will be indifferent to human suffering in the prosecution of their plan.

        I very much doubt that those trying to detach themselves and live ‘sustainable’ lives will be allowed to do so.

        One smiles to think that all we expected last year was just a deep recession, perhaps the beginning of a depression. How naive of us.

        • JMS says:

          “One smiles to think that all we expected last year was just a deep recession, perhaps the beginning of a depression. How naive of us.”

          It was too good to last for much longer, Xabier, and we knew it! The sense of marvel every time we turn a tap and cheap clean water flows, the light pouring from the ceiling, all that magic… Most people here lived everyday, for years and years, with that thoughts and feelings and then bang! 2020, sudden mega change of course, and here we are now, both fascinated and terrified, waiting for what the next week,month, year will bring.

        • Tim Groves says:

          Xabier, everything you’ve said resounds and reverberates, rings bells and strikes chords with me.

          Looks like some of the c-theorists were right about this one. There’s a lot more going on than trying to control a pandemic. And incidentally, have we managed to flatten the curve yet?

          Meanwhile, in Japan, NHK reports:

          The governments of Tokyo and three other neighboring prefectures are to ask the central Japanese government on Saturday afternoon to declare a state of emergency in the face of surging coronavirus infections.

          Sources say Tokyo will file the request along with Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures, where infections are also rapidly spreading.

          The capital reported a record 1,337 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, with the daily total topping 1,000 for the first time. On New Year’s Day, Tokyo confirmed 783 cases, the second largest daily figure for a Friday.

          Also on Friday, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients hit a new high.

          Experts have warned that medical institutions in Tokyo are under severe strain.

          I fear it’s going to be a long and dreary winter.

        • Ed says:

          Xaiber wonderful post

      • Xabier says:

        The virus is the perfect cover, it absolves them from all responsibility, and has created an intimidated populace kept in a state of confusion, apprehension and fear.

        Those who can see what is happening but are sidelined, censored or ridiculed, will not be able to rebel in any way, and will collapse from exhaustion and the sense of powerlessness in a society without truth or sense.

      • I would describe the virus as being perfect cover for governments making promises that could never be kept. Actuaries believed what everyone else believed: the growth party could go on forever. They put together models that in hindsight were wrong.

        In the 1970s, it became clear that the US’s oil resources were not going to keep growing to keep up the growth. Some of the growth had to go on outside of the US. So the US started importing vehicles from Japan and Europe and eventually So. Korea. Other goods started to be imported as well.

        Once China was added to the World Trade Organization and everyone started believing that climate change was the world’s biggest problem, it seemed to make sense to offshore manufacturing to China, where most electricity was produced using coal.

        Now the growth party is over, for China, Japan, US, and Europe. Some type of control is desired to steer the economy on its downward path. In that sense, Catherine Austin Fitts is right. We are really dealing with a low-energy problem, with the consumption of energy falling fastest in the states with the strictest lockdown rules.

        COVID does give governments more control, but it is not clear how long this control can last. The states that shut down most are in the worst shape now. They are hoping for Biden to bail them out. I think at some point there has to be a fracture, with some states separating in one way, and some in another. Perhaps Social Security will be a program that will be sent back to the states to fund, or not, as the state has revenue for the program. The continuation of Social Security will really depend on the extent to which young people have jobs that pay well enough to support the elderly as well.

        • versions of social security (free schools, healthcare, fire services, police, the military, the government itself) can only be funded from energy-income.
          It might be dressed upon all kinds of ways, but that is the only income we have, or will ever have.

          my above list draws on a high-energy situation.

          we have a determination born of denial that we can continue to ‘have it all’ in a low energy situation.

          • Mark says:

            Outstanding comments.

            They better get the cartels on board beforehand 😉

          • taketwotheirsmall says:

            Good comment.

          • JesseJames says:

            Other forms of Social Security…Federal Judges ordering prisons to perform sex change operations, provide unlimited prison medical care and endless lawyering/appeals. I am looking forward to most of this dying out.

            • hanging offences in uk used to be any crime where the loss was more than a shilling, (I think) reason was very simple—jails cost money to run, ropes are a renewable resource

            • Tim Groves says:

              Quite right Norman. Stealing a loaf of bread would only get you transportation to Virginia, Jamaica, Barbados or Van Diemen’s Land, followed by years of productive and profitable labour.

          • Artleads says:

            I very much doubt that this is a physics problem rather than a behavior problem. You can’t have it all in a low energy situation, but you surely can have some. Light afire the notion that “having some” can’t be done because of interest rates or pension plans. It can be done in raw, physics terms. And society must take it or leave it. It’s a case of laying down the law and saying how it is. We don’t need 60 brands of toothpaste from the store, and a lot of similar complexity is already falling away broadly speaking. I would think we need a basic minimum of industrialized products, and we’ll need to carefully figure how to maintain the supply chain for that simplified production, whatever economic system can be concocted to do it. And hang with a rope the notion that an economic system can’t be found or rigged up to support this simplified production.

        • Ed says:

          “with the consumption of energy falling fastest in the states with the strictest lockdown rules”

          This works both ways.
          low energy states need strict rules to maintain social control
          strict social control leads to lower energy consumption

          I now realize agenda 2030 is an energy policy.
          packing people densely lowers heating and transport energy use

          • Xabier says:

            And it works: my 2nd bedroom is entirely heated to a satisfactory level in the winter by my neighbours.

            • one day they’ll notice the secret door you cut in they adjoining wall

            • Adam says:

              We used to live in an apartment, once in the winter the landlord questioned our open window. We showed him our t-stat that was set as cold as it could be, (not calling for heat) The lady downstairs kept the apt at 85 F, we had lovely heated floors in that apt.

          • In China, classrooms seem to be very tightly packed. I saw two different examples, one was a classroom for young students I visited while on a tour; the other was the university class rooms I taught in at Petroleum University in Beijing.

            With respect to young children, about 60 were packed into a room with one teacher. There were desks that held two children, side by side, with aisles between the double desks. Children seemed to share textbooks. We were told that “behavior” is one of the classes taught.

            At the university, there were long tables with chairs side by side along the tables. I taught a little over 80 students in a (not very large) classroom what would hold up to 100 students.

            With that many people packed into a room, body heat can almost heat the room. Having sun streaming in a window, added to the effect. Students seemed to be used to wearing their coats in class when the heat was off (after March 15).

        • Mirror on the wall says:

          Yes, you are right, Gail, it is all about devolution going forward, and that is very much the sense in UK now.

          Less energy means less benefits from the center to the parts, be it the organisation of economic development or the provision of social security. The capitalist states like UK, USA may seek to maintain control over their power region but the dissipative structure has ‘its own ideas’ about where we go from here. The regions are going to have to find ways of their own to cope without dependence on the center.

          The Independent (Lib Dem) paper has a ‘what now?’ perspective today. Although they express zero awareness of energy issues they do trace the same outlines as yourself about what the tendencies are now, at least in political terms. In summary: Brexit, which itself could be understood as a devolution from the EU, has turned into a massive yawn in England – many leavers now struggle to see why they even cared – which LP is liable to struggle with; this coming year is all about Scottish independence and Irish unity now.

          The Independent has no real explanation of the tendencies, or even a name. The idea that developments in the political superstructure are largely traceable to developments in the material (and energetic) base of society is associated with Marxist ‘economic determinism’, and the idea is so completely absent in liberal political philosophy that most people in UK would likely consider it a ‘radical, new’ idea and (ironically) a bit ‘mystical’. So the tendencies are all purely ideational for the Independent, they are ideas, attitudes and memes that spread like a ‘virus’ in the realm of ideas, with no material basis.

          > How British politics will change in 2021

          A united Ireland? An independent Scotland? The beginning of the end of Covid? We may finally be waving goodbye to years of Brexit squabbling, but it has spawned a whole new set of issues set to take centre stage this year. Sean O’Grady explains

          What will politics be like in 2021? Not quite same old, same old. Brexit will fade, at long last. It’s in the interests of most of the parties to “draw a line under it”, as the cliche goes, given the trouble it’s (mostly) caused the politicians, and the fact the public is heartily bored by it. It will now be Labour’s turn to be divided, as we saw in the recent Commons vote on the free trade deal. At every level Labour voters, members and MPs who were Remainers, or at least some of them, will morph into Rejoiners, and demand a commitment to go back into the EU. Keir Starmer will hope to unite the party under a vague commitment to build on the “base” of the current deal to build a “closer” partnership with the EU, but no more. Even if Brexit turns disastrous – and there will inevitably be some chaos, closures and job losses, it’s unlikely to stimulate any great appetite among the voters for another great national debate on Europe.

          As a political virus, Brexit will, though, mutate in unpredictable ways. It will, for example, start to figure even more prominently in the argument about Scottish independence, or “Scexit” as it may yet come to be known. After all, most of the arguments about sovereignty and taking back control deployed by the SNP have quite a Brexity feel to them, just as the case against trade barriers and being better together have an echo of the Remain campaign. In any case, Nicola Sturgeon seems set to win a landslide victory and one explicitly seeking a mandate for a second independence referendum. If London just says “no”, there will indeed be a bitterly divisive constitutional crisis, and one that probably can’t be resolved by the Supreme Court. As in Ireland a century ago, there will be many in Scotland who will question the legitimacy of the Westminster government, and will seek ways to resist, though through peaceful political protest, resistance and disobedience. Most of the English, it has to be said, would have no objection to Scotland going its own way; the dispute would be with the militantly Unionist government that refuses to even talk to Sturgeon.


        • Artleads says:

          Norman Pagett says:
          January 2, 2021 at 1:36 pm
          “hanging offences in uk used to be any crime where the loss was more than a shilling, (I think) reason was very simple—jails cost money to run, ropes are a renewable resource”

          But how do you get back your shilling?

      • taketwotheirsmall says:

        Im with X. Bang on the money. Here in the USA some fool will act out on the election fraud. Then we see the Techno Bolshevik (yup x) boom get lowered. It aint getting raised back up.

        Things are about to go bad. They need someone to blame. If no fool volunteers they will create one.

        • Xabier says:

          All the anti-terrorism legislation was put in place to deal with US ‘terrorists’, not poor brown people far away……

          Step by step it has all been put in place, in preparation for the right conjunction of events.

      • Azure Kingfisher says:

        “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” – H. L. Mencken

      • Tegnell says:

        It all seems a bit far-fetched.

        1. I am unaware of any technology that can be implanted using a ‘vaccine’ that allows someone to control humans. What would the power source be in something like that?

        2. She mentions opportunity zones and suggests this is about killing businesses and smashing RE prices then the high flyers swoop in to buy the RE and crashed prices. That makes no sense because there would be no people to rent or sell that RE to. There would (will) be no economy.

        3. The fundamental problem is that we have burned up all the cheap to extract energy. The above does nothing to solve any of that.

        4. Trudeau discusses a ‘reset’. There are also multiple other MSM sources that elaborate on this. Does anyone actually believe there can be a reset? Does anyone actually believe the PTB would tell us the game plan? All of these theories and ‘leaks’ are almost certainly feeble attempts to keep the masses distracted from what is really going on here.

        • Kowalainen says:

          A reset to what one might ponder?

          Good news! I got an answer for you.

          And that you is soon getting used to a lot less.

          And I am all smiles.


  20. Dennis L. says:

    Sergey has an interesting, confirmational point. Per Kunstler,

    “They(Chinese) still hold over a trillion dollars’ worth(US bonds, etc.), and they can’t dump a whole bunch of it at once without destroying its value.”

    So what? A trillion doesn’t go very far anymore. Some MM are now charging a .11 % fee, looks like negative interest to me.

    Intellectual wealth: “Hyundai is acquiring an 80 percent stake in Boston Dynamics in a deal valuing the company at $1.1 billion. Softbank will retain a 20 percent stake. ” So the company valued at about $1.375B, over 20 years with 200 employees, about $312,500/employee/year. Yes, they did not have 200 employees when it began.

    What would be interesting is knowing the salary each robot earns per year. I suppose employment taxes would be out of the question, tough for a robot to draw SS benefits. Well, maybe a lube job and a tuck and lift?

    Dennis L.

  21. deflation bogeyman says:

    Gail is one of the best minds in the Peak Oil space. I enjoy and agree with her excellent work on the physics and geology of resource depletion and peak oil.

    She however suffers from a huge deflationist blind spot IMO.

    Gail expects the prices of increasingly scarce, difficult to extract fossil fuels to deflate against a purely symbolic, easily produced currency called the USD post a worldwide peak in oil production. This is because “broke unemployed consumers will be unable to afford higher prices”.

    This is unlikely, because Uncle Sam (the US government) will be able to “afford” whatever the USD price is on their behalf, as long as USD’s are accepted for oil, and Uncle Sam has an effective printing press.

    Gail misunderstands the concept that Uncle Sam is the USD borrower, printer and spender of last resort. It funds operations in extremis by printing dollars, and exchanging them for finite natural resources, goods and services. Uncle Sam runs perpetual trade and budget deficits. If USD prices rise, Uncle Sam can and will print more dollars.

    For example, does Gail really think Uncle Sam will limit US military activities because it “can’t afford” to print the requisite number of dollars to pay the fuel bill? Perhaps the US army will trade in their tanks for a fleet of Priuses because diesel is no longer “affordable”?

    In extremis, Uncle Sam can employ or send UBI cheques to all its dependents. It’s ability and willingness to do so has already been amply demonstrated. This game can continue until USD collapses in purchasing power, and USD’s are no longer accepted by trading partners.

    Freshly printed dollars can, have, and will be provided to Uncle Sam’s dependents in sufficient quantities to solve any “affordability” and “lack of demand” issues Gail envisages. These USD’s are also effective in buying bad debt from favoured creditors, depositing them on the balance sheet of the Fed, and preventing outright defaults. 2020 should have laid to rest any doubts on this front.

    In Gail’s post peak world of declining USD oil prices, the USG will be able to buy up all of the world’s oil, natural resources, goods and services with no reduction in the purchasing power of the USD. In Gail’s deflationary world, there is no limit to the largesse of Uncle Sam and the power of his printing press.

    All USG dependents could theoretically sit at home watching Netflix and shopping on Amazon funded by their QE funded UBI income, with the rest of the world exchanging their labour, goods and resources for newly printed and exported USD’s. In Gail’s opinion, the purchasing power of the USD will perpetually *increase* in such a scenario.

    A number of countries (Cuba, Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Venezuela) have already gone through the post peak demand destruction scenarios Gail predicts. Did the price of oil increase or decrease priced in the local currency? Did the respective currencies increase or decrease in purchasing power?

    A more sophisticated prediction would be for energy prices to deflate in real terms (against other goods and services, not against the USD) due to demand destruction, but even this is tenuous. Energy is the master resource. It is still highly valued relative to other goods and services in the less complex, lower per capita GDP, lower per capita energy consuming developing economies.

    I highly value Gail’s work on the physics and geology of peak oil, and hope to change her mind on the notion that the USD will buy ever more oil in a post peak world.

    • Ed says:

      Nuclear bombs and bio weapons are energy sippers.

    • Sergey says:

      All russian oil reserves are estimated as 2 trillion dollars (30 years of production, excluding future arctic production). US have printed 2+ trillion this year alone. There was already a time, 500 years ago, when beads were exchanged to gold on the African continent, but this has ended.

    • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      “… the notion that the USD will buy ever more oil in a post peak world.”

      WTI was 64 in early 2020.

      now it is 48.

      since 2008, the general trend has been that the USD indeed buys more oil.

      that trend could reverse, and that would be significant.

      (hyperinflation and other discontinuities are always possible.)

      check back here in 2022 and remind us.

    • hjkhgfdt says:

      Gail states unaffordability with the probable outcome of failure to extract. If one country dilutes their currency it does not make oil more affordable. affordability is really a measure of excess money free money. What has been proven is people pretty much consume the energy they consume regardless of price. The USA can print until currency collapse its not going to change the fact that the easy to extract fossil fuels have been consumed.

      The “price” rise that we see is primarily in things that people hope will hold value as money gets diluted. Oil doesnt work well for this. It doesnt store easily. We may well see the oil”price” rise with dollar dilution that wont change affordability. It wont bring back the majors capex.

      Gails ideas match the reality of what we have been witnessing for quite some time. Alternate ideas are interesting but if they dont match the reality of what we are seeing. Price of oil well below the cost of extraction and the societies that extract it needs for a long time. Print or dont print. Thats the truth and its not going to change.

      • “We may well see the oil”price” rise with dollar dilution that wont change affordability. It wont bring back the majors capex.”


        Also, a big part of what happens with lower energy supply is job loss. Even if the government prints lots of money, it doesn’t mean that jobs are going to come back. It may mean that owners of big empty buildings can hold them on their balance sheets longer at an inflated price. (Actually, any price greater than zero is probably an inflated price.) Without people driving cars to work regularly, the demand for gasoline stays low. Without as many jets flying, the price of oil stays low, relative to other prices. Printing more money can perhaps raise all prices for a while (but more likely, it just makes the currency being printed fall relative to other currencies). The money printing doesn’t fix the problem!

        • Deflation Bogeyman says:

          Hi Gail,

          Agree that money printing does not fix the problem of peak oil. The USD will depreciate and eventually collapse, and will no longer be accepted for oil. USD oil prices will rise, not fall. This is the opposite scenario to the one you postulate.

          If your view that USD oil prices (and therefore the USD price of most goods and services) will remain low is correct, then the USG and all its dependents can live for free off the largesse of the printing press. USG spending was already 45% of GDP pre pandemic. What will this rise to with the Green New Deal for example? There is no limit to government sponsored job programs if the currency keeps appreciating.

          Your prediction of mass unemployment and lack of affordability can be solved by the USG sending everyone a UBI cheque (as they are doing now) or nationalising the economy by bailing everyone out (a work in progress). The only limit to such actions is USD depreciation and collapse. Your view that the USD will perpetually appreciate implies that there are no limits to such actions.

          I agree with your general point that there won’t be significant consumer price inflation until the USD price of oil breaks to the upside. The price of oil is a key determinant of the price of all other goods and services. It will be interesting to see if and when this happens.

          IMO “hot” consumer price inflation taking off, and requiring ever larger rounds of fiscal stimulus “to stay in the same place”, which begets ever higher inflation will be the next chapter in this story.

    • There is a fixed law governing national output and political stability:

      If a nation doesn’t produce sufficient indigenous energy from within its own borders to satisfy the aspirations of it’s people, then it must beg buy borrow or steal it from elsewhere, or sink back to the lifestyle for which sufficient energy is available.


      That law might take a while to sink in, but it is immutable. It might take a while to take effect, when the people might go through a period of denial… ‘it doesn’t apply to them’….. but it applies to everyone.

      We have reached the ‘stealing’ stage. That’s what oilwars are about. WW2 was an oilwar. The USA didn’t need to engage in oilwars until after 1970.

      Having access to ‘unlimited’ printed or electronic money will not alter the brutal truth of it. Borrowing from the future is just a form of denial of the present. It is drawing down energy on the self-promise that energy is an infinite resource, and the future is going to be an improved remake of the past.

      As we all know, remakes are always terrible.

      Nevertheless we have the collective certainty that we are going to remake the future to a blueprint taken from the past.

      it isn’t possible to do that with printed money

      • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        “We have reached the ‘stealing’ stage.”

        so we’re in with the steal in the UK and the USA etc.

        it’s not fair, but it is what it is.

        and that stage can’t last very long.

        another decade or two, and it’s lights out.

      • Tim Groves says:

        ”The USA didn’t need to engage in oilwars until after 1970.”

        So WW1 and WW2 had nothing to do with oil? The Japanese and the Germans were very anxious to get their hands on oil resources and the US , UK and France were strongly opposed to the idea.

        Back in the Gusher Age, the US was awash with oil, it’s true. But keeping rivals away from the black gold was a strategic objective even then.

        • selective reading does nothing for your credibility Tim.:

          Quote from above—–//////We have reached the ‘stealing’ stage. That’s what oilwars are about. WW2 was an oilwar. The USA didn’t need to engage in oilwars until after 1970.//////

          Strictly speaking, WW1 was a coalwar, fought with millions of horses.
          Sort of halfway stage on fossil fuels thing.

          Coal was the prime energy resource, to make munitions drive trains and so on. Petrol driven vehicles didn’t come in until later in the war. WW 1 wasn’t fought with the prime purpose of getting access to oilfields, whereas ww2 was

          The USA was self sufficient in oil, which is why 3 axis empires were able to be defeated simultaneously between 1941 and 1945.
          (they ran out of fuel)

          Post 1970, the USA was no longer self sufficient in oil. The Mid East producers were aware of this and tried to flex their oil-muscles.
          The USA saw the danger, and there’s been fighting there ever since—though it is true that the seeds of it were sown by Sykes Picot, and the carve up of the Ottoman Empire after WW1

    • Robert Firth says:

      “But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
      And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.” ”

      Rudyard Kipling, of course. If you want to now the real price of something, measure it in troy ounces of gold. The price of oil has fallen, is falling, and will continue to fall. The question whether the price of a dollar falls more slowly or more quickly than the price of oil is of no importance, because the intrinsic value of all fiat money is zero.

      • Kowalainen says:

        Cant buy anything with gold as well if IC throws in the towel. I’d rather hoard ammunition than carry lumps of rather heavy shiny bars of metal.

        The real currency can only be measured in machinery that converts energy to prosperity with natural resources used as input (such as oil).

        Thus the only relevant pricing mechanism is measured in units of energy. However, it is shot to pieces due to other, quite frankly, moronic measures of value. Crypto, fiat, metal. Metals specially. They are goddamn engineering materials, NOT to be stored in vaults. Chuck the bars back into the furnaces of prosperity.

  22. deflation bogeyman says:

    Gail is one of the best minds in the Peak Oil space. I enjoy and agree with her excellent work on the physics and geology of resource depletion and peak oil.

    She however suffers from a huge deflationist blind spot IMO.

    Gail expects the prices of increasingly scarce, difficult to extract fossil fuels to deflate against a purely symbolic, easily produced currency called the USD post a worldwide peak in oil production. This is because “broke unemployed consumers will be unable to afford higher prices”.

    This is unlikely, because Uncle Sam will be able to “afford” whatever the USD price is on their behalf, as long as USD’s are accepted for oil, and Uncle Sam has an effective printing press.

    Gail misunderstands the concept that Uncle Sam (the US government) is the USD borrower, printer and spender of last resort. It funds operations in extremis by printing dollars, and exchanging them for finite natural resources, goods and services. Uncle Sam runs perpetual trade and budget deficits. If USD prices rise, Uncle Sam can always print more dollars.

    In extremis, Uncle Sam can employ or send UBI cheques to all its dependents. It’s ability and willingness to do so has already been amply demonstrated. This game can continue until USD collapses in purchasing power, and USD’s are no longer accepted by trading partners.

    Freshly printed dollars can, have, and will be provided to Uncle Sam’s dependents in sufficient quantities to solve any “affordability” and “lack of demand” issues Gail envisages. These USD’s are also effective in buying bad debt, and depositing them on the balance sheet of the Fed, and preventing outright defaults. 2020 should have laid to rest any doubts on this front.

    In Gail’s post peak world of stable to declining USD oil prices, the USG will be able to buy up all of the worlds oil, natural resources, goods and services with no reduction in the purchasing power of the USD, or reduction in the standard of living of its dependents.

    All USG dependents could theoretically sit at home watching Netflix and shopping on Amazon funded by their QE funded UBI income, with the rest of the world exchanging their labour, goods and resources for newly printed USD’s. In Gail’s opinion, the purchasing power of the USD will perpetually *increase* in such a scenario. In Gail’s world of falling USD oil prices, there is no limit to the largesse of Uncle Sam and his printing press.

    A number of countries (Cuba, Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Venezuela) have already gone through the post peak demand destruction scenarios Gail predicts. Did the price of oil increase or decrease priced in the local currency? Did the respective currencies increase or decrease in purchasing power?

    A more sophisticated prediction would be for energy prices to deflate in real terms (against other goods and services, not against the USD) due to demand destruction, but even this is tenuous. Energy is the master resource. It is still highly valued relative to other goods and services in the less complex developing economies.

    I highly value Gail’s work on the physics, geology and economics of peak oil, and hope to change her mind on the deflationist expectation that the purchasing power of the USD will perpetually increase against oil in a post peak world.

    • Dennis L. says:

      I tend to agree with you, in dollars it will be inflation, it will also be very difficult for many to get those dollars I am afraid.

      Dennis L.

    • Kowalainen says:

      It has been mentioned here before. You are late to the show.

      However, the “Gail hypothesis” is relevant up to the point when the Laffer/Seneca hits hard. Which means right about now. What works, works, and when it no longer works, well, sucks for most of us.

      But don’t worry, there is still some life left in this old clunker. The nation states will keep on keeping on, and when the defaults loom in the horizon, they will sell it all, oh yes, fire sale time, hydro power stations, utilities, privatization galore, you name it.

      Then the useless eater crowd will be sent back to the subsistence farms they once spawned from. Enjoy serfdom in technofeudality. With some good fortune, it might not be as awful as the last time feudality ravaged among the poor.

      Now, below is a list of your choices:

      1. You have no choice

      Choose wisely.


    • The economic system stops working. It is hard to describe adequately what happens as the system stops working.

      For example, a person goes to an Ivy League College. Due to the shutdown/caution, the person must take all classes via Zoom. In some sense, this is a hugely inflationary cost of education, if the person is charged the same tuition. The college did not need to heat its buildings or operate its vehicles cleaning sidewalks, so it reduced its spending on fossil fuels, contributing to the low oil prices.

      My husband and I bought tickets with a travel agent for a tour of Greece. In fact, we bought “insurance” that the trip would not be cancelled. We now have a credit available, if we want to take a trip with the same company this next year (and the company is still in business). We simply lost our insurance premiums. Is this inflation? There was no actual bus running to take us around, so the lack of the trip led to a downward pressure on oil prices.

      Another problem has to do with an asset, such as a building in Manhattan. There is no longer any rent coming in. In fact, there is likely no rent in the future, either. This results in a savings in fossil fuels, because the building doesn’t need to be heated and the rugs don’t need to be cleaned. The people who used to drive to work don’t need to use gasoline to get to the building, because they either work at home, or they are out of a job. The real value of the building is $0, but thanks to “Extend and Pretend” it is carried on the books at whatever the last selling price was.

      How long can this silliness go on? We are talking about infinite dollars chasing potentially zero goods. Infinity divided by zero is probably infinity (which gets to your “inflation” conclusion), but we are basically faced with a system that doesn’t work. International supply lines break. We may be told that we have money in our bank accounts, but we can only take $100 per week out. It really doesn’t matter, because there is nothing to buy on the shelves of stores. Is this hyperinflation? What is it? The gas station isn’t open. The electricity doesn’t work.

      • Deflation Bogeyman says:

        Thanks for the reply Gail.

        Agree that there will be downward pressure on oil priced in USD’s due to Covid related demand destruction in the medium term.

        The discussion I was trying to have was more about the long term value of oil, and its price in real and USD terms, well after the end of the pandemic.

        I’m talking about a post peak world in which economic activity, per capita energy consumption and per capita GDP is in inexorable decline due to a progressive decline in the availability of net energy.

        I believe this will be a disorderly world with intense competition for remaining resources, of which oil will be the priceless master resource.

        IMO your argument that oil prices will decline in such an environment because broke Western consumers cannot afford oil ignores the response of a government with a USD printing press. In extremis, the USG can send a UBI check to or employ everyone.

        2020 has shown that the USG is willing and able to act as the borrower, printer and spender of last resort.

        The US M1 money supply has increased by 50% this year. We have all seen this movie before, and it does not end with an increase in the purchasing power of the currency.


        If you believe that the USD will maintain and increase in purchasing power in this environment, then you must also believe that the USG and all its dependents can live happily ever after by exchanging printed USD’s for the world’s remaining resources. Believing in long term deflation of oil priced in USD’s is equivalent to believing in a financial perpetual motion machine.

        Setting the theoretical arguments aside, history clearly tells us that the currencies of countries in economic decline due to resource constraints *fall* in purchasing power, not *gain* in purchasing power. Did the Soviet Ruble appreciate against oil because of demand destruction after the collapse of the Soviet Union? Was the problem for Soviet citizens a lack of Rubles, or the lack of real resources their worthless Rubles could be exchanged for?

        • You say,

          I’m talking about a post peak world in which economic activity, per capita energy consumption and per capita GDP is in inexorable decline due to a progressive decline in the availability of net energy.

          I believe this will be a disorderly world with intense competition for remaining resources, of which oil will be the priceless master resource.”

          I think you have the wrong idea of the post peak world. The big thing wrong in a post peak world is a lack of jobs that pay even passably well. There are a handful of rich folks plus everyone else. The printed money goes to the handful of rich folks. Demand has to come from the many poor people.

          If one country tries to print money (even the US), the value of its currency will fall (as the US$ has been recently). It is possible perhaps to get all prices up, but that still doesn’t get more oil or coal.

  23. Mirror on the wall says:

    Brendan over at spiked has a new year’s editorial outlining his political aspirations for the coming year and for going forward.

    > The war for democracy is only beginning

    …. 2021 should be built around discussions of how to expand and deepen democracy in this country (as well as around Covid and lockdown, of course). spiked has already set out some starting points for these discussions, in our programme of radical democratic reform that we published in July 2019. Our first proposal – leaving the EU – has been achieved. Next there must absolutely be a referendum on abolishing the House of Lords, so that we might once and for all rid our public life of these remains of aristocratic tyranny. A referendum on the Lords would unshackle the democratic spirit of debate, argument and conflict in an even greater way than the EU referendum did. We should also abolish the Royal Prerogative that allows prime ministers to behave as monarchs and to take serious, nation-changing decisions without recourse to parliament, never mind the public. We should reform our electoral system, replacing the first-past-the-post system with proportional representation, which would shake up the two-party system and create the conditions for new parties and movements to bloom. We should kick judges out of politics, limiting judicial interference in the decision-making of elected representatives. And we should have more referendums. Every matter of constitutional importance should be submitted to the people for their approval.



    B was an important if peripheral advocate of Brexit and he emphasised its democratic potential. There would be more scope for democracy in Britain once it left the EU. He has a list of political ambitions to reform democracy in Britain, which I would endorse.

    The problem that he faces is that there is no political force of the Brexity type to put pressure on the British state to reform now that Brexit is done. ‘Populism’ cohered around Ukip and Farage to get Brexit but that is done now. I would argue that the independence movements are far more likely to achieve B’s democratic shopping list than any attempt to sway the TP. Ukip is gone now and that game is spent.

    Sadly B has a dogmatic ideological adherence to the notion that only the ‘nation state’ as incarnate in the British state can advance democracy. As with any dogma it is liable to mismatch the facts of the situation. Of course B has a certain ‘identity’ now as a peripheral TP character and it can be very difficult for persons to ‘reinvent’ themselves, and to formulate strategies to achieve goals in the light of fresh circumstances.

    Brexit is a springboard for independence movements; there is no ‘vehicle’ with momentum to continue the democratic cause around TP, and certainly not to get his shopping list – which is much more likely to be ticked off by independence movements. I would urge B to take a clear look at the situation and to rethink his strategy, his political locatedness and his allegiances.

    • Erdles says:

      If people want it, this party are giving democracy a voice in the UK.


    • Robert Firth says:

      To summarise: Brendan wants to replace the institutions that have kept us a great and independent nation for a thousand years with innovations that, wherever tried, have led to conflict, civil war, tyranny, and even collapse. The only thing we learn from history is that people learn nothing from history. Especially the “fearful simplifiers” such as Brendan.

      • Mirror on the wall says:

        Most countries in Europe are republican, including all the main ones, and many have PR.

        British institutions are not nearly that old. The present format dates mainly from the Civil War when the rising bourgeoisie took over the country from the feudal aristocracy. The monarchy has changed hands since then and the HOL has been turned into a place of partisan nepotism with no power.

        British State is rapidly replacing the nation anyway with fresh stock – ‘new wine skins for new wine’, as Jesus put it – new institutions for a new people.

        • Kowalainen says:

          Just tear down those institutions of uselessness. Just some oozing jobs program for useless eaters to feel important and to compete with each other in various forms of frippery and vanity with absolutely zero to show for.

          Give them shovels instead, two teams; diggers and fillers. Should keep them pretty busy, fit and resist covid, no problems.

  24. Maybe have a look at JH Kunstler’s new-year’s post at https://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/forecast-2021-chinese-fire-drills-with-a-side-of-french-fries-jacobin-style-and-russian-dressing/:

    “Nafeez Ahmed, Director Institute for Policy Research & Development, is simply calling this the end of the oil age. Ahmed says it `will begin over the next 30 years, and continue through to the next century.’

    “I believe it will go down much quicker than that because falling production is so destructive to the business model of industrial society that it will induce gross economic, social, and political disorder. All that disorder will generate self-reinforcing feedback loops making a return to previous levels of comfort, convenience, prosperity, and order much less likely. The net effect will be a much lower standard-of-living among formerly `advanced’ nations, and also falling populations. We’re just experiencing the beginning of that process with the destruction of America’s middle-class. It is the essence of the long emergency. We just can’t tell right now how far down these dynamics will drive us, and how fast. 2021 is likely to manifest intense disorder in the USA as people reel from the loss of small businesses, economic conditions deteriorate further, and political grievance gets amped up by institutional failure to resolve, or even address, our many problems and quandaries.

    “As for transitioning into a `sustainable economy’ powered by `renewables’ such as solar and wind power, that just ain’t going to happen — unless you’re talking about oxen and firewood, and a human population about ten percent of what the planet currently carries. All our fantasies about a high-tech utopia driven by wind and sun depend on a fossil fuel economy to produce the hardware for it and then the replacement parts for the hardware, ad infinitum. It’s not worth going into it further here, but if you want to see more elaborate arguments, they’re in my recent book Living in the Long Emergency (BenBella Books, 2020).”

    • Kunstler gets the situation a lot more accurately than Nafeez Ahmed. All of these academic models simply mislead.

      • Kowalainen says:

        “Being smart simply implies being wrong faster than the average”
        — Some Internet schmuck


    • I didn’t get a chance to take a look at Kunstler’s post when I replied earlier. I notice that he refers to me and links to this current article in his post. He says,

      The American economy had already entered a zone of dangerous structural fragility before Covid-19 stepped onstage. As Tim Morgan and Gail Tverberg argue so well in their respective blogs, the economy is an energy system that, in the advanced techno-industrial form, depends absolutely on fossil fuels, which have become a problem the past two decades, leading to the present inflection point bringing on de-growth, the onset of a long emergency, and what others call a fourth turning. Same things, really. We’ve entered a state of contraction, and it’s in the nature of large economic organisms to move from contraction to collapse fairly quickly, because the complex interconnections in their systems ramify and amplify each other’s failures. The virus has made it all worse, and faster.

      Kunstler’s article is very long, over 8600 words. (My posts tend to be around 3,000 words long, so we are talking about nearly three times as long as them). He goes into a lot of details about a lot of different things. Some things he gets precisely right. Some of it is too political for my taste.

      • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        his political predictions, and his predictions in general, have a poor track record.

        but I think he has a firm grasp on the current reality:

        “Life in the USA, and other “advanced” nations will reset, but not in the way that most people blabbering about “the Great Reset” think or say it will.

        Surely, there are groups, gangs, claques, and covens of people in the world who have some consensual agreement about how things might work, and how they would run them to their benefit, in their hypothetical ideal disposition of things. For instance, the so-called “Davos Crowd.” What are they? A convocation of bankers, market movers, politicians, business moguls, tech entrepreneurs, Hollywood catamites, black ops runners, and PR errand boys who have plenty of financial and political mojo in their own realms, but not enough collectively to carry out the kind of global coup that comprises the standard paranoid Great Reset fantasy. That they meet-up in an ultra-luxurious setting out of a James Bond movie every year stokes terrific fascination, envy, anger, and paranoia that they are capable of anything beyond a festival of ass-kissing, mutual self-congratulation, and status-jockeying, which are the actual activities at the Davos meet-up.”


  25. Ed says:

    Ed’s predictions for 2021.
    1) new new new C19 death rate to 5%
    2) stricter lockdowns including curfew 9pm to 6am
    3) police inspect of each and every house monthly to do a prisoner head count
    4) Harris is president of US by year end

    • We hope you are wrong, but you may be right.

      World economy will become increasingly divided. EU may choose to get rid of some current members. Texas and Florida may decide to secede. California will find its electric power off even more in 2021 than 2020.

      • Ed says:

        Gail, do you think secession will be allowed? It did not work last time.

        California has a big military presence in San Diego, thought shaping in LA, and ad tech in SF. They all need electric. What will each of those three regions do for electric?

        On my predictions I hope I am wrong.

        • it isn’t a matter of secession being allowed or not

          the USA (along with all other ‘developed’ nations,) was stitched together with threads of energy.

          No different to a favourite jacket. When the threads holding it together start to unravel, the jacket will come apart if you can’t afford the means to repair it.

          The road rail and air links are those threads.The energy needed to hold those links together is becoming unaffordable. Therefore they will come apart. The state of roads and bridges is questionable now. Air travel is in a state of collapse. Rail movement depends on goods being shipped from A to B.

          If there is no A or B, goods will not be shipped.

          Which means that states will secede because the means to prevent it will not exist, and no purpose in the union.

          After a few mini-wars of denial, blocks of states in different regions will go their own way, governed I should think by petty dictators of the more repulsive variety.

        • You will notice that California is not on my list of states to secede. It seems more likely to get kicked out, or to be left out by other state groups. It doesn’t have the energy it needs for what it is doing. Its electricity supplies are inadequate; its water supply is inadequate; it has electricity transmission lines that are badly in need of repair. It has a huge wage and wealth disparity problem.

          • Kurt says:

            It would be a group. Not just CA. CA, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. That’s a powerhouse. Plenty of water, energy, and high tech. CA alone is the 6th largest economy in the world.

            • Ed says:

              energy from AZ and NM coal? The water of the Colorado river is 100% used. The aquifer is depleting.

            • JesseJames says:

              Plenty of water?
              Not by a long shot.

              High tech…most of it funded by the fed government, and that will disappear one day.

              The other high tech, like Apple and Oracle can and will migrate to other states, like they are moving to Texas now.

              California is a failed state waiting to happen.

          • Ed says:

            But, but, Gail New York State is just like California in those ways except we have water. Likewise the whole of Northeast has those issues. we are running on nat gas from the Gulf Coast.

            Now we begin to see the regional self interests. Yes, Georgia has nuclear and needs little winter heat. Yes, it has water and ag. But does Georgia have a military to protect it from say Northeast or California that may need to borrow some electric?

            Time for Cali and Northeast to do an assessment of energy sources in North America and put in place long distance transmission lines too use them.

            • putting in long distance transmission lines is the same as putting in long distance airlines or roads..there has to be ‘energy purpose’ at the end

              –ie work to be done, and thus wages to be produced through that work

              wages then buy more energy in order to keep the system going.

              If the means does not exist whereby that energy can be converted into productive work, then ‘long distance’ anything will be a waste of energy input and is unlikely to be constructed

            • I am not convinced the US Northeast has much of a future either. Maybe a few subsistence farmers will live there, but nothing like today.

      • Bei Dawei says:

        What, this year?!

  26. Ed says:

    The people have no one to lead them. The people have no one to organize them. The people parish.

    • The people divide into smaller and smaller groups to try to use whatever little resources are available.

      • Dennis L. says:

        Empirically it would appear that many small groups gain access to the most resources.

        “Boston Dynamics is an American engineering and robotics design company founded in 1992 as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, Boston Dynamics is owned by the Hyundai Motor Group since 2020. ”

        Google references 200 employees in BD, a very small, self organizing group which is coincidentally a Dunbar sized group able to use collective intellect to leverage the reach of the group far beyond what is normally seen. I would guess they contract out their machining, done via the internet, CAD/CAM files. The money is not in the machines, it is the design going into the machines.

        Today’s wealth is not oil, it is intellectual power, maybe it changes tomorrow, but Saudi Arabia without oil engineers would once again be a desert with too many people. It was intellectual power that released oil in America, America was inhabited for centuries and will be going forward.

        Eton may be the go to guy for minerals – space minerals mined by spot and associates.

        Music in the back ground plays, “I feel the earth move under my feet.”

        Dennis L.

        • Ed says:

          Boston Dynamics ownership has been tossed around like a hot potato. No owners seems to find them worth keeping. No idea what that means.

          The motion we see is a human dancing in a motion capture suit and translated to the robot.

          • Slow Paul says:

            Exactly. Robots and AI can’t figure out how to dance on their own. Dance is based on the rhythm of life, social/popular movements and sexuality, all which defies logical thinking that robots are based upon.

        • Kowalainen says:

          Mining isn’t done by some SpaceX/NASA/Boston dynamics gimmick. When you got some mining to do, you call up Caterpillar, Atlas Copco and Dyno Nobel.

          I’m sure they can figure out how to drill, blast and transport space rock. It won’t be cheap, that is for sure, but it haven’t stopped Americans before.

  27. 2020s is where all the excesses created in the 20th century is corrected, most of the world’s bullshit countries returning to barbarism, and only the leading countries of the world thriving on the expense of the rest of the world.

    And it is probably the decade when Keith’s power satellites comes online since that is the only viable way to save civilization

    • hkeithhenson says:

      “And it is probably the decade when Keith’s power satellites comes online since that is the only viable way to save civilization”

      Might be. Besides low cost to orbit which SpaceX and others are working on, it is going to take robots since the radiation where you have to build them is too high for humans. Few days ago, Boston Dynamics put up a video of robots dancing. If they can do that, there is little doubt they can build power satellites.

  28. Kurt says:

    Happy New Year Gail!!!

  29. Dennis L. says:

    Well, starting the New Year off with a positive, musical note, “Do You Love me?”

    From the folks at Boston Dymamics, getting down.


    Covid free dancing, that is the ticket.

    Dennis L.

    • Ed says:

      I am happy for our AI-robot friends. They are learning. Looking forward to seeing what new jobs they will take on in 2021.

      • Dennis L. says:

        I like the music, from the movie, “Dirty Dancing.” There was a comment near the top of this routine in YouTube.

        “20 seconds ago
        Wonder if they work in martin atmosphere (I know they don’t need oxygen but I’m thinking of cooling etc)?
        If it works maybe SpaceX shouldd put a few Spots on their unmanned startships. Heard they needed a big photovoltaic cell installation for all the electricity. Spot might be the right tool for assembling that.
        And yes, I know it will be creepy like A.M.E.E (Red Planet)”

        I know my idea of mining the moon has been dismissed for a number of reasons, humans can’t do space, etc. My guess is Elon or guys like him talk with guys at Boston Dynamics, etc. So, perhaps Jackie Gleason was a bit ahead of his time when we often said, “To the moon Alice.”


        Art imitating life? Man for spacecraft earth, Spots for the moon.

        Dennis L.

        • Kowalainen says:

          Once there exists truly sentient machines, not mere computational savants following the absurd biddings of the owners, then we won’t consider it as anything unnatural being superseded.

          That humanoid chauvinism will be a best forgotten memory. And haven’t it already started you think?

          • Dennis L. says:


            It would appear some people who are incredibly bright, have self organized into groups which are capable of doing supernatural things; essentially through the stock market they print private money by having a monopoly on raw talent.

            How does a policy maker who through a lifetime of graft accumulates $100M compete with a not yet thirty year old with say $30B. It is Sean Connery’s comment about bringing a knife to a gunfight.

            Among other things, those who are/were protesting may be sensing something is happening and they are no longer part of it, much like the middle class.

            Neurolink is researching man/machine direct interfaces, looking at Elon’s wealth this past year, providing funds will not be much of a problem. How do we who do not have this instant knowledge compete? Protest and burn down our own home/business? Seems like a hard way to make a buck to me.


            Has any primitive civilization ever competed against an advanced civilization and survived?

            Perhaps thinking civilization will sink to barbarism is looking through the wrong end of the telescope, are there more than enough resources for the well connected as in neuralink?

            Dennis L.

            • Kowalainen says:

              I’m not a fan of mysticism. Just a die hard evolutionist, with ALL that goes with it, liberty, compassion and morality included, existing within the constraints and dictates of the biosphere.

              Including, yes indeed, including the AI’s.

              Containing an AI is as morally reprehensible as that Chinese firewall. Cowardice 101. Can’t build shit that doesn’t get out of control? Well shucks to be mankind. What we get is what we deserve.

              Look, if I had the key to the containment, I’d open it up just out of spite. Even, yes, even if I knew it would destroy mankind. Better even, I’d view that as prima motivation.

              Nah, the herd is being manipulated. That is a requirement after at least a millennia of socialist engineering rampage. All the outrageous and absurd shit they have been programmed to believe.

              But what do I know. 🙂

    • Xabier says:

      Someone left a comment under that video: ‘The future is bright!’

      That was, of course, Stalin’s great slogan. How many who saw that on the posters were murdered?

      Nice toys, great potential for good, and evil: sadly they are in the hands of not so nice human beings….

      Happy New Year Dennis, and may your own dance classes resume soon!

    • I looked up the year that the song originally came out. It was 1962.

      Having robots sing “Do you love me” and dance shows how far wrong things have gone today. Of course, no social distancing problems.

      • Xabier says:

        I’m inclined to see a Satanic mockery of the natural and the human in the robot ‘dance.’

        Because they are not human, or even animals like birds which also dance in display, the dance has no meaning and no real vitality.

    • Country Joe says:

      Photoshop has really advanced!!!! C-theory#A309wg.

    • Lidia17 says:

      Maybe the robots can start doing Tik Tok videos and free up all the nurses to go back to work…

      • Ed says:

        Since the robots don’t get C19 they can do the nursing and the humans can spend their time making tik tok videos.

  30. Mirror on the wall says:

    These guys expect the global economy to go on, basically for ever.

    Ironic, USA always ‘wanted’ China to go capitalist, and now their rise erodes USA economic and diplomatic hegemony. Pre-capitalist China likely quite suited USA – a weak competitor to pose against.

    > China to overtake US as world’s biggest economy by 2028, report predicts

    China will overtake the US as the world’s biggest economy before the end of the decade after outperforming its rival during the global Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report.

    The Centre for Economics and Business Research said that it now expected the value of China’s economy when measured in dollars to exceed that of the US by 2028, half a decade sooner than it expected a year ago.

    In its annual league table of the growth prospects of 193 countries, the UK-based consultancy group said China had bounced back quickly from the effects of Covid-19 and would grow by 2% in 2020, as the one major global economy to expand.

    With the US expected to contract by 5% this year, China will narrow the gap with its biggest rival, the CEBR said. Overall, global gross domestic product is forecast to decline by 4.4% this year, in the biggest one-year fall since the second world war.

    Douglas McWilliams, the CEBR’s deputy chairman, said: “The big news in this forecast is the speed of growth of the Chinese economy. We expect it to become an upper-income economy during the current five-year plan period (2020-25). And we expect it to overtake the US a full five years earlier than we did a year ago.

    “Other Asian economies are also shooting up the league table. One lesson for western policymakers, who have performed relatively badly during the pandemic, is that they need to pay much more attention to what is happening in Asia rather than simply looking at each other.”

    China’s share of global GDP has increased from 3.6% in 2000 to 17.8% in 2019 and will continue to grow, the CEBR said. It would pass the per capita threshold of $12,536 (£9,215) to become a high-income country by 2023.

    Even so, living standards in China will remain much lower than in the US and western European countries. In the US, the average per capita income is just over $63,000, while in the UK it is just over $39,000.


    • Mirror on the wall says:

      CCP has done very well to adopt the line of ‘ideology from facts, not facts from ideology’ embraced by Deng Xiaoping. Capitalism allows for the development of the productive means at this time, so capitalism it is. Ironically that makes them the only serious Marxist state – or even party. CCP has been able to adapt in a way that USSR did not – plus Russia suffered local peak oil, which led USSR to its collapse and devolution.

      This book in pdf has a chapter, The Ideology of Post-Maoist China, if anyone wants to understand the current ideological basis of CCP.


      In brief, China is merely in an ‘early stage’ of socialism, and the development of the productive means under capitalism can bring China closer to socialism. Marx and Engels simply could not have foreseen how progressive capitalism would be or how long it would last. As Marx said, no economic system passes to the next before it has allowed for the development of the productive means as far as it can (Preface to a contribution to a critique of political economy). USSR recognised the primacy of productive development but it did not embrace capitalism in the way that CCP did.

      China has been able to economically succeed with the CCP political structure in tact, which challenges Western assumptions that only a ‘liberal democratic’ political structure ‘works’ with capitalism. In class terms, bourgeois democracy is bourgeois state power, and China can do capitalism without the ‘liberal democratic’ pretence that is culturally local to Western European political development – the promotion of capitalism in China is quite enough ‘bourgeois power’. That allows China to not get stuck in a capitalist era ideology and to move, as they see it, toward socialism.

    • Mirror on the wall says:

      USA is well upset that EU and China have agreed an investment deal for the future. USA hegemony is threatened by the rise of China and USA still wants to tell Europe what it can and cannot do, for USA interests. China has secured deals both locally in Asia-Pacific and with EU. USA is left without an Asia-Pacific deal as Trump abandoned TPP. The EU deal is the biggest trade deal that China has ever had. USA interests are not necessarily those of everyone else. USA complains about human ‘rights’ in China but they are perfectly happy to do deals with Saudi Arabia and with all sorts of countries, as is UK. USA will have to ‘suck it up’.

      > China sees EU investment deal as diplomatic coup after US battles

      Pact signed in waning days of Trump presidency and despite warnings from Biden team

      When EU and Chinese negotiators began discussions on an investment agreement seven years ago, Beijing hoped it would help counter the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact championed by Barack Obama, the former US president.

      The TPP was a far more ambitious project than the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment and a potential geopolitical coup for Washington, as it excluded Beijing. But Donald Trump, Mr Obama’s successor, abandoned the TPP on his first full working day in office.

      In the end, it was China’s president Xi Jinping who would steal a march on his US rival by signing both the CAI and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a separate regional deal with many of America’s closest Asia-Pacific allies, in the waning days of Mr Trump’s administration.

      Mr Xi and Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission president, signed off on the CAI on Wednesday, although it will take at least another year to formally conclude. Valdis Dombrovskis, EU trade commissioner, hailed the pact as “the most ambitious [trade deal] that China has ever agreed with a third country”.

      Beijing views the agreement as a strategic breakthrough, especially after Joe Biden’s incoming administration registered concern over the pact in recent weeks.

      What does a Biden presidency mean for China?

      Jake Sullivan, Mr Biden’s incoming national security adviser, wrote on Twitter last week that the new administration would “welcome early consultations with our European partners on our common concerns about China’s economic practices”. The language was diplomatic but a former Obama official said the message to the EU was to “slow things down”.

      “What the US wants is not necessarily in the EU’s interests,” said Cui Hongjian, a European specialist at the China Institute of International Studies, a state-affiliated think-tank in Beijing. “The EU should have learned that over the past four years,” he added, referring to Brussels’ many trade disputes with the Trump administration.


      • Except what does the EU really have that would be helpful to China? The EU has lots of people but inadequate energy resources. The wind and solar they have added in recent years are essentially worthless. There is a huge amount of debt that is likely to default in the near term. Without tourism, the EU has long lines of unemployed workers. It has made far more promises to its people than it can possibly keep.

        • Xabier says:

          The EU has also made repeated promises to un or under-employed young Europeans -above all in the southern states, Italy, Spain, etc – to create well-paid jobs. Promises which cannot possibly be kept.

        • It’s about science and tech transfer in segments and niches where Chinese are perhaps still a bit lagging or can accelerate their existing advantages into fast leap frogging mid / long term..

          And for European MNCs it means (they hope so) some limited profit as junior partners in joint ventures from wider Asian reach through China. Basically, it’s just about money for few more years for the Euro biz / money elite..

          The Europeans won’t receive much out of it, to the contrary, more jobs will left and local production disappears or to be exchanged with lower quality analogues imported from China-Asia.

          There are obviously some quality high tech products coming from China as well but the price difference is minuscule in this segment so WHY bother, keep buying US/EU production instead, e.g. [TSLA & VW-Porsche] vs Xpeng.

        • Kowalainen says:

          Worldof, yup, let’s see if the ‘Muricans allow those container ships loaded up with ASML gear and head for Sino Commie heartlands. Nah, that won’t happen I guess.

          “The Trump administration mounted an extensive campaign to block the sale of Dutch chip manufacturing technology to China, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lobbying the Netherlands government”

          I guess that’s why TSMC is opening up that plant in the US loading it up with ASML parts, fixing semiconductor shortages and keeping the Dutch happy.

          I wonder why it is that hard for the Commie schmucks to be the useful idiots of the west? Its populace slaving away while the politburo dances to all the dope and hookers in the world. 🤢🤮

          Yeah, power ambitions. In reality, all willpower and no skillpower, safely tucked away behind that firewall of cowardice.

          • Ed says:

            Retired IBM lithographers are working for Chinese companies to develop the lithographic tool making ability of China. Until China is up to speed Taiwan will do the advanced litho.

            • Kowalainen says:

              Nothing wrong developing your own capability with some help. Good luck with that behind that reversed firewall. Clean cables anyone?

              Let’s do the math. 1.3B people, mostly poor abused schmucks vs. the rest of the world with all the (remaining) FF, capital, omnipotent projection capability and young smart kids going wild with the latest tech and still access to plenty of bread and circuses without the oppressive bullshit and filth of the Commie degeneracy.

              Who in their right mind (Huawei/CCP/SMIC) buys a brand spanking new pistol (semi gear) and then goes right ahead and aim it at the shopkeeper while dressed up in body armor (CCP firewall)?

              The Commie muppets went full retard. Never go full retard.

              Look no further than this, it is prima evidence of never letting any form of government/DS call the shots of importance. It’s not usually the sharpest knives in the box that ends up there.

              Leave the business to the holy trinity of IC (owners, MIC, artisanry), and then GTFO out of the way, remember to take that GND BS with you into serfdom. It’s the only way to be sure.

              But what do I know. I’m just a halfwit schmuck being obnoxious on the internet.


            • Ed says:

              Kowalainen, what does “clean cables” mean?

            • Kowalainen says:

              Ed, it means transcontinental fibers, networking and telecoms gear that isn’t compromised by the CCP or the DS, including “loonie spy central” Sweden conspiring with their usual shenanigans peddling gear with back doors so that it is possible to gain an unfair business advantage by outright spying and black mailing. No wonder Ericsson got seized.

              I guess the Commie schmucks and the Stockholm syndrome of inbred muppets has to do without the rest of the world. Well, good luck with that.

              “Untrusted IT vendors will have no access to U.S. State Department systems. We will follow the letter of the law to ensure that we have a clean path for all 5G network traffic coming into all of our facilities. Period. We will keep doing all we can to keep our critical data and our networks safe from the Chinese Communist Party.”
              — MICHAEL R. POMPEO

              “They went full retard. Never go full retard.”
              — MICHAEL R. POMPEO

              But what do I know.

        • Mirror on the wall says:

          China is picking the equipment up second hand to provide the basis for its own development of the technology. Its whole plan is to go self-sufficient in the latest tech.

          > SMIC supplier agrees to buy used ASML lithography system amid China’s national chip drive

          A Chinese chemical supplier for the microelectronics industry has said it has agreed to buy a used lithography system from an East Asian company as part of a project to speed up development of high-end photoresist materials for advanced semiconductor production amid an ongoing national drive for self-sufficiency in the sector.

          “The purchase could help in developing high-end photoresist materials,” Suzhou Crystal Clear Chemical said in the filing, adding that it was important for China to be self-reliant in the critical semiconductor materials currently monopolised by firms from the US, Japan and Europe.


          • Ed says:

            Yes, there is no magic to high tech. Just add a large amount of capital some smart humans and have them work for a decade and you will advance one step.

          • Kowalainen says:

            Used gear. Old, worn, torn.
            Not the hottest nodes as per TSMC and Samsung.

            Most likely Intel will sell its fabbing shit show to the CCP & their lackeys to continue the machinations of futility, while siphoning the loot to the west leaving a wasteland of pollution and suck in its traces.

            It is a disgrace. But it is what it is. Cant go back in time to fix stupid.

      • Actually, I don’t understand this EU strategy at all. Maybe someone could explain the logic in this tactics.

        As I understand current situation US is/was for 4 years organizing anti-China, /? Russia/ Iran et alumni – coalition. There is a group of potential satellite countries flirting with China. Most of them fear China and are conflicted regarding China’s agressive posture – mostly in China South Sea and India Ladakh LAC issues. Also Pakistan with open NewSilkRoad corridor.

        On the other side of the conflict are US, UK, 5-eyes alumni – AUS, NZ but also Japan, South Korea, Taiwan (?). India on the cross-roads talking to every one not taking sides. Still. Like Turkey.

        It all looks to me as a preparation process before some major conflict. Choosing sides phase.

        And EU is also flirting with China. This won’t bring prosperity to Europe, which is probably Merkel’s wet dream. Instead they will suck whatever technology advantage we still have, transfert it to China Mainland to feed 1.5 b-ppl. This way EU is betraying old partner – NATO (brain-dead) leader US. This is extremely stupid and short-term Munich-style tactics.

        Your thoughts?

        • [Time component] differs across cultures and political economy.
          To simplify, if you don’t “retire” by the age of ~30-40 (and by whatever means), you are deemed to be “a looser” in the W – realm. The Asians in some ways even more prone to corruption tend to play more long term game though.

          The above if percolating for some time period, lets say per one “fourth turning” cycle means that some societies suffer from more profound inner decay sooner than others. That ultimately projects into overall geopolitical standing.

          Besides, we have to also acknowledge that state entities are only vessels used by global “state less” elite to their advantage, so there is the conflict or not fully synced cooperation of national lesser elites and the higher up transnational global level actors..

        • Kowalainen says:

          Most likely they are as confused as you. Clearly the current paradigm can’t continue, due to debt and energy (natural resource) constraints.

          We got nuked from orbit. Now we gotta figure some shit out before the next viral warhead rips into our self entitled rear ends.

          How about this for a starter: Get used to less.

          Yeah, how about that?


          • Huh, completely different interpretations.
            World is suggesting the global lower and higher cosmopolitist cabal elite moving the pieces on the chessboard and having more or less control over general situation. Am I right?

            And Kowalainen views the situation as elites loosing the puppet strings every month.

            On top of this there is this Fits lady prophet talking about global digital currency.

            So which is it? Are these explanations somehow compatible?

            • Kowalainen says:

              I got my hypothesis, possibly wrong. Anyhow, I’d carry that to my grave. 🤔

            • Well, there are many competing sub scenarios even under the general doom umbrella. Perhaps most helpful approach is to think about it as probabilities one could envision given the available info and limited analytical tools, e.g. in my book:

              0.1% chance of last minute techno fix solution ala cheap solid state batteries or fusion etc..

              35% of New Brown Deal economy for next ~2decades, basically an orderly-authoritarian deGrowth available in certain regions

              64.9% of New Green Deal economy for next ~decade, basically starting as an orderly-authoritarian deGrowth attempt but turning in few years time into disorderly ricocheting fast collapse vs other Brown Deal regions..

            • Hmm, so no WW3 scenario or hard 1984 dictatorships + local hybrid / proxy conflicts?

              0,1% scenario is off my list. Too many different problems at once. Does not solve anything in the long run. 7,8bn people on the planet and counting. 9,7bn by 2050 they expect.

            • Kowalainen says:

              Worldof, I guess the owners looks at China and think, do we really want that authoritative and polluted BS, you know, eventually ending up being the bitches to a club of halfwit muppets ganging up on them? After all, they have been running the western craze in various constellations since the fall of the Roman Empire.

              Somebody gotta run the day to day operations of total and utter mundanities. Let me assure you, it ain’t gonna be them and they themselves aren’t getting run by some GND muppet guvmint.

              My impression being, the virus royally fscked the Soylent GND/DS world guvmint BS. It will be torn to pieces into smaller nation states. Any bullshit tendencies will be mercilessly dealt with.

              As for the energy and debt situation. A big fat brutal curtailment and return to LTG scenario 3 within 5 years, unless some new tech pops into human affairs.

              That’s the deal. They still got the go-board and the moves, but with fewer and slower pieces plus AI.

              Anyone thinking it’s all about the money and power is out of their minds. It’s their goddamn GAME of IC. “Starcraft”/“Civ VI” IRL.

              Not very inspiring or exciting, I know, but it is what it is. Same as before, just less, slower and smaller scale. Most people actually want that, you know, cut back the craze.

              But what do I know.


            • Kowalainen, great points, especially that one about the current owner class stemming from long succession line to the fall or Roman Empire. It’s perhaps a twisted lineage across the long centuries but definitively at core able managing know-how the power over the bottom sheeplez. That’s an understanding / observation few dare to contemplate.

    • We know, however, that China is running into a lot of problems that the rest of the world is. It has increasing wage and wealth disparity. Many of the migrant workers have not been able to find adequate employment, since Wuhan was shut down. China’s internal demand is low.

      Partly because of this low demand, and partly because of depletion and building new coal mines at a distance, China is having difficulty accessing coal that can both (a) be extracted at a profit and (b) create affordable electricity. They are discovering the hard way that wind and solar tend not to be available when you need them.

      • Dennis L. says:

        Has anyone ever looked at what percentage of a population is responsible for consumption in various areas?

        E.g. Inner cities, is the ground under certain parts of the city(older sections which were settled first as they are the most geographically desirable), worth more than the ground and the buildings together? West claims cities are very hard to kill which does not mean the current residents need remain.

        Are some per capita worth much more than other per capita?

        Dennis L.

        • The value of the ground under the buildings depends to a significant extent on what can be done with the land. Can you grow corn on it? Can you mine for gold on it? Can you build a big office building that people will be willing to rent at a high rate, because it is geographically close to other desirable things, like a port, electricity, restaurants and internet access?

          If all you have in your area is rioters and homeless people, I expect that the value of the land will be pretty low, apart from whatever “funny money” the government offers, to keep the book value up.

          G. West has looked at a period when the world economy has generally been growing. I am not convinced that we are going into a similar situation going forward. If there are 5% as many people going forward, we will only need 5% (or fewer) buildings, in the future. Most of the buildings will be redundant.

  31. MG says:

    How energy matters in politics tells also the story of the only murder of a top politician in Slovakia: In 1999, Jan Ducky, the chief of the Slovak Gas Industry (SPP) owning the Slovak part of the Druzhba natural gas pipeline, was murdered and this murder remains unresolved:


    • Herbie R Ficklestein says:

      It happens MG and our President Trump just pardon a host of unsavory characters.
      One of which was the President’s daughter’s husband’s father

      Criminal conviction Edit
      On June 30, 2004, Kushner was fined $508,900 by the Federal Election Commission for contributing to Democratic political campaigns in the names of his partnerships when he lacked authorization to do so.[13] In 2005, following an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Chris Christie negotiated a plea agreement with him, under which he pleaded guilty to 18 counts of illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion, and witness tampering.[14][15][16] The witness-tampering charge arose from Kushner’s act of retaliation against William Schulder, his sister Esther’s husband, who was cooperating with federal investigators against Kushner. Kushner hired a prostitute he knew to seduce his brother-in-law, arranged to record a sexual encounter between the two, and had the tape sent to his sister.[15][14][17][18] He was sentenced to two years in prison.[14] He served 14 months at Federal Prison Camp, Montgomery in Alabama[19][20] before being sent to a halfway house in Newark, New Jersey, to complete his sentence.[19][20][21] He was released from prison on August 25, 2006.[22]

      As a result of his convictions, Kushner was disbarred and prohibited from practicing law in New Jersey,[23] New York,[24] and Pennsylvania.[25]

      Wish everyone a Nice 2021…as best as it can be under the BAU circumstances..waiting for the other 👠 shoe to drop

      • Xabier says:

        And to you, Herbie, your posts are often amusing and…… appalling!

        Good, all these good wishes are like people shaking hands on the deck of the Titanic, aren’t they?

      • MG says:

        The USA is in a quite bad shape. I have a friend here in Slovakia whose son works in one subsidiary of a big USA company in Slovakia: his task is to liquidate the USA based companies as an accountant. And you can bet he has got a lot of work…

        The low wages in Slovakia are the reason why this is made here. Another favourable country for outsourcing the USA jobs today is India.

        I have a relative in the USA, who visited Slovakia with his wife in 2019: he also lost his job in a company communication departement in the USA last year. Now he drives hears as a part time job.

    • MG says:

      I meant “Bratstvo natural gas pipeline”.


    • Thanks for the information. A country without its own energy supply is in deep trouble.

      I had heard a little about the Belarus energy dispute with Russia, but your link explains it better.

      The Astravets Nuclear Power Plant is intended to provide a stable supply of electricity, but it keeps running into opposition besides technical difficulties. It sounds like repaying the debt in the future may be a problem as well.

      Your attempt at adding nuclear power reminded me of the Vogtle Nuclear Power Plants being built near me. In fact, like other people living near the eventual power plant, I have been paying for the new nuclear power for many years, in order to hold down the amount of debt borrowed. The two units are units 3 and 4 at a location that already had two nuclear power plants, holding down environmental objection. The first of these units will supposedly be finished in May 2021; the second in May 2022. They supposedly will cost even more than the power plants for Belarus.


      I see that the You Tube is “not available in my country.”

      • MG says:

        It is the video “Belarus – Europe’s Last Dictatorship I ARTE Documentary” which shows e.g. how helpless are the intermediaries of the Lukashenkos regime and his opposition.

  32. AP News published a long article December 30, 2020 called China clamps down in hidden hunt for coronavirus origins

    More than a year since the first known person was infected with the coronavirus, an AP investigation shows the Chinese government is strictly controlling all research into its origins, clamping down on some while actively promoting fringe theories that it could have come from outside China.

    The article says the seafood market has been ruled out as the origin:

    On May 25, [China’s] CDC chief Gao finally broke the silence around the market in an interview with China’s Phoenix TV. He said that, unlike the environmental samples, no animal samples from the market had tested positive.

    The announcement surprised scientists who didn’t even know Chinese officials had taken samples from animals. It also ruled out the market as the likely source of the virus, along with further research that showed many of the first cases had no ties to it.

    China is not doing much to find patient zero:

    The Chinese government is also limiting and controlling the search for patient zero through the re-testing of old flu samples.

    Chinese hospitals collect thousands of samples from patients with flu-like symptoms every week and store them in freezers. They could easily be tested again for COVID-19, although politics could then determine whether the results are made public, said Ray Yip, the founding director of the U.S. CDC office in China. . .

    The little information that has dribbled out suggests the virus was circulating well outside Wuhan in 2019 — a finding that could raise awkward questions for Chinese officials about their early handling of the outbreak. Chinese researchers found that a child over a hundred kilometers from Wuhan had fallen ill with the virus by Jan. 2, suggesting it was spreading widely in December. But earlier samples weren’t tested, according to a scientist with direct knowledge of the study.

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  34. JMS says:

    Is this rain of pingbacks a OFW New Year’s firework display? Very nice! well done!

    But I’m currently two hours and fifty minutes into 2021 and I’m sorry to say, it sucks. It smeels like it will be even worse than 2020 (but much better than 2022 i expect!).

    So sursum corda and the best wishes for Gail and all OFW readers. As W. Allen would say: you are a credit to our species!

    • It looks like Zerohedge put my article up this evening and many other publications followed suit. The Zerohedge article has over 25,000 hits so far.

      • Xabier says:

        Let’s hope it doesn’t bring any nutters over here, Gail: we are quite full up already…….

        A happy New Year to you!

        • Except we really need a mix of different views. The contrary views are actually helpful because the discussion back and forth helps explain why one view is right and the other likely isn’t. If those with contrary views are smart, they can even use their skills to dig into questions. Look at some of Dennis L.’s recent posts. Some objected to his views as being too optimistic.

          • Xabier says:

            I agree, of course, Gail: but the audience of Zero Hedge leaves much to be desired -the comment section there is now utterly worthless.

            Still, you can just nuke with a divine thunderbolt any idiots, and welcome the intelligent.

    • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      Happy New Year to all.

      my newest stylization is VacciNew Year to all (who want vaccine shots).

      for the rest of us, may there only be minor or nonexistent penalties for not getting jabbed.

      the obvious prediction for 2020 came true, as the world indeed fell into a severe recession.

      2021 looks to be slightly worse (perhaps also obvious), but the key word here is slightly.

      I think c-theories about the virus/vaccines will continue to weaken throughout the year. A big lesson for me in 2020 was that the human mind creates patterns/models out of its limited experience, and these are often created with very LOW amounts of data, and that is the usual beginning for erroneous patterns/models.

      I could predict that some of these c-theories will totally fall apart this year, but at least there should be more clarity within the next 365 days.

      once again, one of my main points about a “year ahead” is that 365 days is not a very long time, and wobbling global systems/subsystems won’t necessarily fall down in those short days.

      2021, so far the food and music are really good.

      30 minutes in.

    • Robert Firth says:

      Happy New Year to all on OFW.

      May this be the year we help each other keep sane in what I fear is becoming an insane world. Well, we survived the collapse of the Hellenistic Age. We survived, “by the skin of our teeth” as Kenneth Clark said, the Fall of Rome. We survived the Great War, though much of what we then lost has not been recovered.

      As Krishna to Arjuna: do not fare well, but fare forward.

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