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. davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    WTI now 48 and the 2020 high was about 64.

    Brent now 51 and the 2020 high was about 70.

    both about 25% below the yearly highs.

    I suspect the 2021 highs will be lower than 2020.

    • Maybe and maybe not.

      I think it depends on the degree to which the US dollar sinks. If it sinks enough, the price of all goods could start rising. This seems to be part of what is causing the new higher oil prices. These higher prices will not really help the oil producers very much, however. They will push the US into recession however, but tend to benefit some other countries around the world.

  2. davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:
  3. fatfreddiescat says:

    Theres a real difference between city folk who hate trump and country folk who hate trump.

    Country folk all hate wearing a mask. Country folk all smell a rat about covid. In a country store no one wears a mask. If they enforced they wouldn’t have any business.

    My friend complains that if he wears a mask people look at him funny!

    Its a real feeling of comradere. Were all outlaws now. Maybe covid is real. Maybe its not. dont matter. Our lives. Our choice.

    The beautiful thing is when you see people are saying not going to do that and you are too you have a indicator. NO ONE IS WEARING A MASK. Hey brother. Hey sista. Your beautiful.

    People are smiling, Their feeling it. Unity.

    Im talking some tough dudes, Loggers. Miners. Farmers. Their real serious.

    Somthing up. Somthing smells funny.

    The hippies and the mother earth children celtic tribe people have some tough dudes too. They smell it too. They hate trump. Despise him. But they know somthings up too.

    People are starting not to believe any of the BS in the country.

    Holes are showing in the matrix.

  4. Dennis L. says:

    Thinking of complexity:

    Combines are hugely expensive, more and more it appears they are purchased with a 4 year life time and a bumper to bumper warranty after which they are sold and a new one purchased. They seem to be almost impossible to repair, and if attempted require heated machine sheds that have fifty foot doors and are literally the size of a small aircraft hanger.

    If there is a downturn as many here think, there is no return to simpler combines as they are too far in the past. Large machines harvest large fields and without them large acreages are a cost, there are only 16 usable days in the fall to bring in the crop – sometimes it rains, sometimes it snows, those days don’t count.

    We could be facing a scenario where we have the land, but we cannot afford to harvest the crops with either the manpower or the machines we have.

    Tractors and tillage are the same, we can fertilize a row to the inch and go back and plant seeds in the same row, that is incredible and is part of the reason fields are prepared so carefully, seeds are expensive and spacing is now also down to the inch. Modern tractors are computers on wheels in the mud, when something goes wrong they go into limp mode and barely move until serviced which cannot be done with out computer codes which are many times not available to the farmer, only dealers. Part of this is secondary to emission requirements, etc.

    A couple of years ago, talking to a full time tractor mechanic, part time bartender he related all the old tractors were being purchased, placed into cargo containers and shipped to the former USSR, where they went from there is anyone’s guess. Scuttlebutt is it is the same with construction equipment as the old stuff is shipped to the third world, they don’t want the new stuff. Machine tool auctions have shipping containers, what is won is placed in the container, when it is full off it goes, little of it is cnc, all manual. Manual stuff is getting hard to find unless it is basically a boat anchor.

    Dennis L.

    • Kowalainen says:

      The core exports obsolete equipment to the periphery. That obsolete gear is anyway totally dependent on top-notch energy production facilities run, for the most part, by state of the art computers. A computer that runs a coal power plant is basically for free, and of enormous complexity (not in a bad sense). It is the one-off/limited series heavy equipment that is expensive to manufacture. Stuff that needs to be productive 24/7, such as power plants and combines during harvest.

    • It’s getting ridiculous, even major brand off-roaders are now manufactured as “fly by wire” only in terms of drive-traction.. that’s non repairable even in most of their service-dealer network (special appointment center only), not joking..

      If the overall collapse scenario is correct the agri land under cultivation gets divided into way smaller plots anyway, see Don Stewart’s recent hints how only lite touch cultivation walk behind tractor sized machinery (or no tillage at all) is necessary.. and grains (feed stock) will get replaced by perennials by 30-70% as animal breeds and local conditions allow, so large sized machinery and as many combines not needed..

      And if the collapse scenario is not valid at all, i.e. somehow we get soon enough yet another uplifting techno energy miracle, well who cares, then it will be some combo of AI large scale machinery sync network (AI harvestor + dron ) and crazy genetic manipulation onwards in terms of our foods..

      • Xabier says:

        They will, we can be sure, push even harder for Tech Big Ag now, as after all, they can plausibly sell it to governments as ‘pandemic-resistant’ – the fewer humans in farming the better. Madness, but what else can we expect? Madness disguised as ‘smart’.

    • Xabier says:

      Excellent reflections, Dennis.

      A very long way from the day when the farmer pulled his trousers down and sat on the ground to see whether it was time to sow. After all what instrument is more sensitive than the human bottom? And self-replicating, too.

      A long time ago, did I say? Just yesterday, really.

    • RICHARD Marleau says:

      Great observation on farm equipment. There are a few other considerations to the picture. In my opionion based on Western Canadian ag there is no shortage of equipment out there. Enough equipment that has been produced to farm the acres twice or more over given the required labour. The new equipment built for the most part is just bigger with more horsepower a few more operator comforts. GPS guidance is nice and so is sectional control which saves on some inputs but i don’t think it had the same impact as the internal combustion engine to the production process. the big improvement to field crop production in western Canada is the adoption of no till farming process that is very dependent upon petro fertilizer and chemical. However, it seems profit margins continually get squeezed and marginal producers are caught without incentive to continue. There are areas with great soil and favourable climate that still can produce with a positive margin but the bar continues to be raised. Annual field crop production takes some time time to adjust because the production cycles are annual.

      but it seems the finance industry must continually pump fiat into the sector. Farm land prices have risen dramatically since the early 2000s. it used to be $400 per acre would get you a decent parcel another $150 for equipment and $100 for inputs. Now inputs could be $250 to 400, equipment $400 to 600 and land $1500 per acre. it is as if the price of land has to inflate enough to act as financial security for the banks books.
      One has to wonder if these large landbase growing operations aren’t meerly zombie corps. Often they will offer to rent land with cap rates above 5 %. In the past farm land used to use a cap rate similar to the longterm government bond which is now a little over 1 % and junk bond rates are near 5%.

      Back to Denis’ point about not being able to farm because of equipment. i see the potetial cause of it because the finance industry is willing to lend to the go big or go home crowd without factoring in the cosequences to the community or system overall. it is likely a work around to cover up declining energy surpluses.

      great site good contributors.

      • Interesting points.
        Especially the one about land price inflation as precondition for higher propensity of debt intake when surplus energy dwindles..

        Now the question remains in terms of “Great Reset” policies, when the price of land crashes down as it “must” :

        1/ never (eventually switch to drect feudalism or abandonment – depop)
        2/ sometime during implementation of the plan say mid late 2020s
        3/ delayed as much after the further ricocheting crash 2030-40s

    • Thanks for your very fine observations. This explains why we cannot go backward.

      As supply lines are broken, and as we no longer can afford to create new bigger, better models, the whole system tends to fall apart. Engineers always need a new project to work on, but this is not available. This creates a huge problem for the education field.

      • Kowalainen says:

        “Engineers always need a new project to work on”.

        Right, and most of the projects are simply to keep the racket going instead of being useful in the long term and dampen the inevitability of decline. Retooling and repurposing of the productive capital is in the dawn of a “brave new world”. Shut down these absurd and abundant auto factories could be a good beginning. Back to small scale life assisted by rail and bicycles. Burn down these obnoxious spas and vacation resorts, yes, start with the hotel chains. I bet orange man bad wouldn’t like that, but what do I care.

        However, the output of the artisanry is always products and services, the fundament of IC (together with energy), which puts it above and beyond the utterly worthless useless eatery and socialist “engineering” of the sanctimonious hypocrisy, which it unfortunately enabled to run rampant in an era of excessive abundance.

  5. adonis says:

    THERE ARE SOME READERS THAT BELIEVE IN THE INTEGRITY OF THE COVID 19 STORY AND WHO BELIEVE THAT THE VACCINE IS HERE TO HELP US I AM PUTTING UP THIS ARTICLE FROM 2005 JUST TO SHOW READERS THAT THERE IS A MOTIVE TO REDUCE THE POPULATION AND THAT THE POWERS THAT BE KNEW MANY YEARS IN ADVANCE ABOUT THE END OF OIL EVEN IF THEY HAVE GOTTEN IT ALL WRONG AND PROBABLY PLANNED TO WIPE OUT A LARGE PROPORTION OF THE POPULATION BELIEVING THAT OIL SUPPLIES WERE RUNNING OUT. ” Declining Energy Reserves and Economic Downturn

    Of course, discussion at Bilderberg 2005 turned to oil. An American Bilderberger expressed concern over the sky-rocketing oil price. One oil industry insider at the meeting remarked that growth is not possible without energy, and that according to all indicators the world’s energy supply is coming to an end much faster than the world leaders have anticipated.

    According to sources, Bilderbergers estimate the extractable world’s oil supply will last a maximum of 35 years under current economic development and population. However, one of the representatives of an oil cartel remarked that they must factor into the equation the population explosion and economic growth as well as demand for oil in China and India. Under the revised conditions, there is apparently only enough oil to last for 20 years. No oil spells the end of the world’s financial system—which has already been acknowledged by the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, two newspapers that are regularly represented at the annual Bilderberg conference. The conclusion: expect a severe downturn in the world’s economy over the next two years as Bilderbergers try to safeguard the remaining oil supply by taking money out of people’s hands. In a recession or, at worst, a depression, the population will be forced to dramatically cut down their spending habits, thus ensuring a longer supply of oil to the world’s rich as they try to figure out what to do.”

    • John says:

      Adonis how do you think they will reduce the population thats what i have been trying to figure out in the last few months. Im aware of peak oil and how it’s connected to population growth and economy.

    • Ed says:

      so 20 years from 2005 that is 2025!

    • I found an article related to the Bilderberger conference. http://www.zpenergy.com/modules.php?name=News&file=print&sid=1557

      These are some excerpts from it:

      According to sources, Bilderbergers estimate the extractable world’s oil supply will last a maximum of 35 years under current economic development and population. However, one of the representatives of an oil cartel remarked that they must factor into the equation the population explosion and economic growth as well as demand for oil in China and India. Under the revised conditions, there is apparently only enough oil to last for 20 years. No oil spells the end of the world’s financial system—which has already been acknowledged by the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, two newspapers that are regularly represented at the annual Bilderberg conference. The conclusion: expect a severe downturn in the world’s economy over the next two years as Bilderbergers try to safeguard the remaining oil supply by taking money out of people’s hands. In a recession or, at worst, a depression, the population will be forced to dramatically cut down their spending habits, thus ensuring a longer supply of oil to the world’s rich as they try to figure out what to do.

      During cocktails one afternoon, a European Bilderberger noted that there is no plausible alternative to hydrocarbon energy. . .

      At Rottach-Egern in May 2005, the industry’s top executives tried to figure out how to keep the truth about diminishing oil reserves from reaching the public. Public knowledge of the diminishing reserves directly translates into lower share prices which could destroy financial markets, leading to a collapse of the world economy.

      An American Bilderberger wondered what it would take for the oil price to go back to US$25 a barrel. Another American Bilderberger, believed to be Allan Hubbard, laconically stated that the general public does not realise that the price for cheap oil can be the bursting of the debt bubble. Cheap oil slows economic growth because it depresses commodity prices and reduces world liquidity.

      There is a strong indication, based on the information reported from the Bilderberg 2005 meeting in Rottach-Egern, that the US Federal Reserve is extremely concerned about the debt bubble. One American Bilderberger reported that if the price of oil were to go down to its previous low of $25 a barrel, the debt-driven asset bubble would explode.

      To prevent low prices, it sounds like a decision was made to try to keep oil prices high through wars on foreign soil. These would tend to raise prices, without causing much collateral damage to the countries starting them. Higher energy prices would not take money out of the economy, they would simply redistribute them among countries. This would benefit the US and Great Britain.

      Do you have a link to the article you are quoting? Could you “copy” the link, and “paste” it into comment for the rest of us to see?

      • well—so far nobody has asked me to be a bilderberger.—how does one qualify?

        that said, there are some less than sharp knives in the bilderberg box, if all that is said is true.

        If population is drastically reduced, (to say 25% of now, to pluck a figure out of nowhere, ) then the entire commercial structure of the planet will collapse, and the so called ‘wealth’ of aforesaid bilderbergers must necessarily evaporate.

        That is so blindingly obvious, it hardly needs my lowly intellect to address a bilderberg conference to point it out.

        World health and commerce is entirely dependent on converting one energy form into another to give ourselves wages.
        Until now those wages have constantly increased because we’ve been able to pump more energy into the system to support them.

        That delivered goods at an accelerating rate, which we eagerly consumed

        And paid for with constantly increasing wages.

        that’s called momentum, to use a single word for it.

        We are now losing momentum fast.

        The bilderberg wealth will not substitute for loss of energy input

        • Kowalainen says:

          They can stare at the digits they “made” during the Kafka era of IC on the last working computer once the Seneca hits hard. That will work until the turbines of the last man standing drops into the outlet.

          A big congratulations on the delusions that some primates circulates in the mental swirl of hallucination and grand myopia.

          Hey, I am sure Commie Soylent GND will fix that little predicament. Let’s call in for another Bilder burger, or whatever that shit show is called, meeting and discuss how the Kafka of IC can be injected with large quantities of unobtanium and a large dose of useless guvmint, so that, you know, we can continue stare at digits on a computer screen for a little while longer. 👍

          Hey, we probably need moar psy ops packages. Quickly, call the disgusting peddlers of sanctimony.. ☎️ 🤢🤮

          BAU tonight baby. 10111010110110 👩‍💻 W00t. Wealth. Prosperity. Yum, yum, the useless eater craves.

          Oh, what, am I being salty again? 🧂😡 👎

          • Kowalienen

            By the measure of the time, when I was 11, my documented IQ was in the top 1% nationally here in the UK.

            I hasten to add that it wasn’t of the slightest use in making myself a fortune, achievement of high office in government or industry or much else that I can think of.
            Apart from an the ability to think, as an end it itself. That doesn’t pay very well.

            It also is not of the slightest use right now in understanding what on earth you are blathering on about

            • Kowalainen says:

              Sounds like your problem, not mine. Your IQ score isn’t a measure of the quality of your thought processes. It only means that you’ll be wrong faster than Joe Average.

              I like to consider it as cheap intelligence vs. industrious intelligence.

              It makes a world of difference when traversing your mind in the sprawling tree of trajectories and outcomes in objective reality. Yeah, that and some understanding on the ifs, whys and hows the proverbial gears of IC is ground, that coupled with some basics in psychosocial traits easily observable in certain types of people. You know, asking yourself the question if there is a core in that person or if it’s just another construct loonie guided by the limbic system. Plenty of that trash floating around after about at least a century of psy ops, various honey pot shenanigans, outright spying, corruption and subtle blackmailing. Or as your personal favorite Trump would state: The Swamp.

              But don’t get me wrong. I like what you write, and agree for the most part, as long as the (sometimes shallow) ramblings don’t interfere with objective reality.

        • Bei Dawei says:

          “well—so far nobody has asked me to be a bilderberger.—how does one qualify?”

          They have a steering committee that decides who to invite. No formal criteria but participants are mostly politicians, CEOs, finance people and economists, people like that. Davos (the World Economic Forum) is a lot bigger and invites celebrities.

        • Thanks very much. I see the earlier article that was founds was an excerpt from this article. This article gives more context. The Bilderberg group wanted one world government, among other things.

    • the spending habits of the plantation slaves (we’ll call them what they were—energy converters) were severely restricted.

      There was never any money IN their hands.

      If you remove money from the hands of the mass of people, and still expect energy conversion (work) from those same people, then slavery is the only job description that fits I’m afraid.

      Taking the bilderberg theory to its nonsensical conclusion:

      With BAU we have 20 years left

      Using the Bilderberg theory, (slave labour) we extend the system by another 15 years maybe.

      The entire bilderberg thing is nonsense because it takes no account of human nature:

      i.e.—we get to 15 years from now, if we’re lucky, (doing BAU stuff,) then suddenly figure out we’re about to go over the financial cliff, but calmly accept:

      A—threequarters of us are going to be shortly dead

      B the rest become slaves to the top 0.1%

      • Xabier says:

        Human nature has many facets.

        I read a highly interesting biography by a 19th English mercenary.

        One of his observations was that it was easy to kill trained, well-armed troops once you had broken their spirit.

        He saw his soldiers just walk up to them and hit them on the head, with no attempt at resistance. They had ammunition, they had bayonets, and they were totally passive…..

        Another account was about a general who would literally take men out of the ranks and beat them up: afterwards, they were his most loyal followers and their eyes shone with admiration for the man who had dominated them. Incredible, but true.

        Frankly, one can do anything with human beings, and get them to accept it.

        They are weaker than dogs -the best dogs always show spirit , and a wise trainer uses that and doesn’t crush it.

        The world is more unreasonable than we would ever care to admit.

        • Ed says:

          Xabier, I always enjoy your comments. This one seems timely to the global situation.

        • Ed says:

          Xabier, when my wife makes the dog get out of her place on the sofa she reminds me dogs like to know their place in the pack. It sounds like the general understood this.

          • Xabier says:

            Yes, your wife is right, an intelligent dog and a good hunter just loves a firm word of command and a structure – they feel safer I think.

            I once saw an alpha dog give another one a ‘woof!’ command, in a particular tone, which was obeyed instantly. I didn’t quite believe it when I saw it, but it happened: a clear command.

            I use that tone myself when my gundog gets too frisky and independent and I have to calm him and let him know that I am serious!

            The possibilities of communication with some dogs are amazing.

            Possibly I have spent far too much time in the woods with dogs…….

        • that was 19th c soldiers they were used to being dominated by their .’betters’

          doubt if it would happen now

          • Kowalainen says:

            Yup, if you are a whiny little princess, ring the bell and GTFO, or apply liberal amounts of Rule #5.

            They are forging Viking raiders in the modern take of “special forces”. Young guys, smart, hard as nails, in no need of any motivation than watching over the buddies, the challenge and adventure itself.

        • ranter says:

          VAX = break spirit.

      • Kowalainen says:

        Slaves? Why? That is ridiculous. The owners control the means of energy, production and finance, it will just be perpetually less of it. High-tech low econ society. Yes, forget about that instacollapse absurdity.

        It will for sure be mayhem among the lesser of TPTB and the useless eaters. Because you see, the owners are as dependent on the Machine as the artisanry and the MIC is. The holy trinity of growth and depletion.

    • Discussed scenarios, and depicted graphs in recent works of say Dr. Morgan, Blair Fix also tend to highlight that ~[2023-27] window (-2035 macro boundary) as very solid candidate for severe threshold of discontinuity from recent multi decade ~stagnation-levitation-lift up trend, i.e. incoming abrupt collapse to be expected.. How deep (or full – one way?), universally applied and where to be most destructive that’s for another set of questions though..

      Obviously, this is only one set of scenarios and options (good chances %% though), .. , anything is theoretically possible, even many absurdities from today’s or this blog readers perspective..

  6. JMS says:

    Not everything was bad in 2020. The extinction of the influenza virus, for example, was one of those miracles of this year, which no one cares to explain, but which is none the less welcome.

    2019 data
    https://apps.who.int/flumart/Default?ReportNo=10
    2020 data
    https://apps.who.int/flumart/Default?ReportNo=6

  7. Mirror on the wall says:

    This track made me laugh and I am guessing that the words (and music) are tongue in cheek. One for the GND.

    “It’s lovely!”

  8. Namm says:

    They don’t know EROEI, so they just think oil is eternal and is all just a matter of economics as ‘reality’ (physical, subjected to physics) is foreign to these virtual-oriented people. But at least they’re sensing it (shallow article, by the way – bad, actually):
    https://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/The-Very-Real-Possibility-Of-Peak-Oil-Supply.html

    By the way, don’t ever think the real higher ups don’t know what’s happening, they do. What you’re seeing right now is their way of degrowth, with them on top and bringing mass misery to everyone else. But at least it’s a plan – fantasies of locally-oriented degrowth will never happen.
    People on the conservative spectrum of politics shall rejoice as well, because this will bring back survival ethics, and erase the social modifications introduced in the last 100 years.
    But violence will come back, greatly so. It won’ be Mad Max, but a return to something more barbarian.

    China, not aware of such problem, will crash and burn in the coming years, because it will keep trying to get bigger and bigger. Their demographic bomb will also make sure its civilization gets buried to the ground.

    • Yep, the plan as unfolding into action is pretty up in our face..

      It’s all about curbing discretionary (energy) spending, and placate the idle masses with UBI.., core infrastructure support via CB / gov through various fin-debt schemes and efforts.

      Not sure about any acute depop plan for the 1st-2.5nd tier world though, perhaps this will come a bit later. In any case I’m not sold on what they model for time extension gain from this whole circus, hardly a decade+ achievable, more realistically only few extra years into mid-late 2020s.
      But I’m not complaining.. so far..

      • Azure Kingfisher says:

        Perhaps they won’t have to kill us all off. The scamdemic and subsequent economic and social fallout will serve to reduce the number of future souls incarnating on this planet:

        Half a million fewer children? The coming COVID-19 baby bust

        “The COVID-19 episode will likely lead to a large, lasting baby bust. The pandemic has thrust the country into an economic recession. Economic reasoning and past evidence suggest that this will lead people to have fewer children. The decline in births could be on the order of 300,000 to 500,000 fewer births next year. We base this expectation on lessons drawn from economic studies of fertility behavior, along with data presented here from the Great Recession of 2007-2009 and the 1918 Spanish Flu.”

        “An analysis of the Great Recession leads us to predict that women will have many fewer babies in the short term, and for some of them, a lower total number of children over their lifetimes. This is consistent with the evidence described above. The Great Recession led to a large decline in birth rates, after a period of relative stability. In 2007, the birth rate was 69.1 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44; in 2012, the rate was 63.0 births per 1,000 women. That nine percent drop meant roughly 400,000 fewer births.“

        https://www.brookings.edu/research/half-a-million-fewer-children-the-coming-covid-baby-bust/

        Setting aside procreating for the moment, how in the hell are young people supposed to even date and form partnerships in the New Abnormal? Zoom calls?
        What does the future of family creation look like? How much autonomy will people have when it comes to pair bonding and procreation? Will the vaccinated be allowed to have contact with the unvaccinated? Will they each have differing social and legal statuses? The medical tyranny that’s emerging could easily bring about the practice of eugenics, if not an officially recognized eugenics program.

        The COVID-19 vaccine marks the beginning of the transformation. People will think they’ll get the old normal back by taking the vaccine but they won’t. They will effectively separate themselves from their fellow man and facilitate the division and categorization process desired by our overlords. A bio-apartheid will be the end result and it will infect every sphere of civilized life. The only way to avoid a bio-apartheid is to prevent separation and thus categorization. No one should take the vaccine. If no one takes the vaccine then they cannot divide us Into two camps; they cannot make anyone the “other.”

        • Bei Dawei says:

          “Setting aside procreating for the moment, how in the hell are young people supposed to even date and form partnerships in the New Abnormal? Zoom calls?”

          Orgy porgy.

          (“Brave New World” reference)

          • Kowalainen says:

            Haha, fantastic. “Orgy Porgy”.

            Worrying about dating and procreating as the Seneca cliff of (easy) fossil fuel depletion approaches is quite something.

            Is it just me or did the average IQ score plunge rapidly after FE left?

            Can you believe it, they want to go back to the neo conservative Christian “patriarchy” as a “fix” for all the intractable issues facing the decadent west. I’m sure that will put some more unobtanium in the oil fields and in extension gas tank of the SUV’s they use to haul their bloated and sorry asses around in.

            All while Taiwan, with a female president, stomped the pandemic as if nothing happened. “Dunno, EZ. I’m Tsai Ing-Wen and I do this for a living, I’m used to making the dimwits of decadent western establishment and hoi-polloi look like utter buffoons.”

            It is a disgrace. Let it burn. 🔥

        • Mirror on the wall says:

          Yep, we all saw that one coming.

          The fertility rate in England and Wales fell to 1.6 per woman in 2020.

          The rate for native women is about .1 lower than the overall, so it is now about 1.5 – a fall of 25% in births each generation, half in two, three-quarters in three.

          No worries, TP has agreed with CBI to get them all of the workers that they can use from abroad, currently about 700,000 per year.

          > “The total fertility rate fell from 1.65 children per woman in the first three quarters of 2019 to 1.6 for the first nine months of 2020 – the eighth year in a row it has fallen and the lowest level in the last decade.”

          https://www.expressandstar.com/news/uk-news/2020/12/07/fertility-rates-in-england-and-wales-fall-for-eighth-year-in-a-row/

          • Kowalainen says:

            Not bad at all, meanwhile in Sweden, all the middle aged useless eater female leftovers “working” in the guvmint as perpetrators of state sanctioned sanctimonious hypocrisy is having a heyday with youth from Afghanistan.

            You betcha, the Swedish guvmint is financing their “Orgy Porgy”, to cite Bei.

  9. Herbie R Ficklestein says:

    Wasting away again in Margaritaville….🏝️🤑🌈

    This month, Monroe County commissioners voted to look into the possibility of special assessments on neighborhoods in need of higher roads and new flood pumps, and the price per home could be as high as $5,000 a year. Monroe is also looking into raising taxes for everyone in the island chain, which would require permission from the Legislature and Monroe voters.

    “I feel that we, unfortunately, might need to raise additional funds in next year’s tax ratings for these projects. We need to start earmarking money and say yes, we’re going to start paying for it,” Mayor Michelle Coldiron said in a November meeting where the commission discussed money-making ideas and costs.

    This Keys neighborhood has been flooded for more than 90 days. Is relief coming soon?

    For residents in neighborhoods that have seen as much as 60 days of consecutive flooding this year, help can’t come soon enough.

    Stephanie Russo, a lawyer in Key Largo, has experienced flooding in her neighborhood since she and her husband first bought their home in 2015. On the worst days, when rain collides with high tide, delivery drivers can’t make it to their door. Sheriff’s officers won’t patrol the neighborhood because they worry about damage to their cars, although they will come in an emergency.

    Russo said she’s OK with paying extra for the needed upgrades, but she’s not sure if several thousand dollars a year — per home — is feasible.

    “I don’t know if everyone in my neighborhood can afford the potential assessments we’re looking at here,”

    Not only that but my City here in Broward County in Florida passed a special bond that provided funds to raise the sea walls in the intracoastal waterway to protect property from flooding.
    Already in that area there is significant street flooding and the reason given to do so was the property values would plummet along that stretch, this decreasing tax revenues!!!
    It did pass along with other pork projects that insiders in City Hall and connected influencers to profit from, like obtaining a Golf course from a developer to make a nature park, after he dumped a mixture of sand material from a Waste Treatment plant! Nice profit of a cool $6 million on Joe taxpayers. Actually, with this Covid mess, it’s going to be painfully obvious that these excessively expensive projects cannot be funded as before from the decrease in tax base.
    We are living in interesting moments…glad I’m OLD

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