2021: More troubles likely

Most people expect that the economy of 2021 will be an improvement from 2020. I don’t think so. Perhaps COVID-19 will be somewhat better, but other aspects of the economy will likely be worse.

Back in November 2020, I showed a chart illustrating the path that energy consumption seems to be on. The sharp downturn in energy consumption has occurred partly because the cost of oil, gas and coal production tends to rise, since the portion that is least expensive to extract and ship tends to be removed first.

At the same time, prices that energy producers are able to charge their customers don’t rise enough to compensate for their higher costs. Ultimate customers are ordinary wage earners, and their wages are not escalating as rapidly as fossil fuel production and delivery costs. It is the low selling price of fossil fuels, relative to the rising cost of production, that causes a collapse in the production of fossil fuels. This is the crisis we are now facing.

Figure 1. Estimate by Gail Tverberg of World Energy Consumption from 1820 to 2050. Amounts for earliest years based on estimates in Vaclav Smil’s book Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospectsand BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy for the years 1965 to 2019. Energy consumption for 2020 is estimated to be 5% below that for 2019. Energy for years after 2020 is assumed to fall by 6.6% per year, so that the amount reaches a level similar to renewables only by 2050. Amounts shown include more use of local energy products (wood and animal dung) than BP includes.

With lower energy consumption, many things tend to go wrong at once: The rich get richer while the poor get poorer. Protests and uprisings become more common. The poorer citizens and those already in poor health become more vulnerable to communicable diseases. Governments feel a need to control their populations, partly to keep down protests and partly to prevent the further spread of disease.

If we look at the situation shown on Figure 1 on a per capita basis, the graph doesn’t look quite as steep, because lower energy consumption tends to bring down population. This reduction in population can come from many different causes, including illnesses, fewer babies born, less access to medical care, inadequate clean water and starvation.

Figure 2. Amounts shown in Figure 1, divided by population estimates by Angus Maddison for earliest years and by 2019 United Nations population estimates for years to 2020. Future population estimated to be falling half as quickly as energy supply is falling in Figure 1. World population drops to 2.8 billion by 2050.

What Is Ahead for 2021?

In many ways, it is good that we really don’t know what is ahead for 2021. All aspects of GDP production require energy consumption. A huge drop in energy consumption is likely to mean disruption in the world economy of varying types for many years to come. If the situation is likely to be bad, many of us don’t really want to know how bad.

We know that many civilizations have had the same problem that the world does today. It usually goes by the name “Collapse” or “Overshoot and Collapse.” The problem is that the population becomes too large for the resource base. At the same time, available resources may degrade (soils erode or lose fertility, mines deplete, fossil fuels become harder to extract). Eventually, the economy becomes so weakened that any minor disturbance – attack from an outside army, or shift in weather patterns, or communicable disease that raises the death rate a bit – threatens to bring down the whole system. I see our current economic problem as much more of an energy problem than a COVID-19 problem.

We know that when earlier civilizations collapsed, the downfall tended not to happen all at once. Based on an analysis by Peter Turchin and Sergey Nefedov in their book, Secular Cycles, economies tended to first hit a period of stagflation, for perhaps 40 or 50 years. In a way, today’s economy has been in a period of stagflation since the 1970s, when it became apparent that oil was becoming more difficult to extract. To hide the problem, increasing debt was issued at ever-lower interest rates.

According to Turchin and Nefedov, the stagflation stage eventually moves into a steeper “crisis” period, marked by overturned governments, debt defaults, and falling population. In the examples analyzed by Turchin and Nefedov, this crisis portion of the cycle took 20 to 50 years. It seems to me that the world economy reached the beginning of the crisis period in 2020 when lockdowns in response to the novel coronavirus pushed the weakened world economy down further.

The examples examined by Turchin and Nefedov occurred in the time period before fossil fuels were widely used. It may very well be that the current collapse takes place more rapidly than those in the past, because of dependency on international supply lines and an international banking system. The world economy is also very dependent on electricity–something that may not last. Thus, there seems to be a chance that the crisis phase may last a shorter length of time than 20 to 50 years. It likely won’t last only a year or two, however. The economy can be expected to fall apart, but somewhat slowly. The big questions are, “How slowly?” “Can some parts continue for years, while others disappear quickly?”

Some Kinds of Things to Expect in 2021 (and beyond)

[1] More overturned governments and attempts at overturned governments.

With increasing wage disparity, there tend to be more and more unhappy workers at the bottom end of the wage distribution. At the same time, there are likely to be people who are unhappy with the need for high taxes to try to fix the problems of the people at the bottom end of the wage distribution. Either of these groups can attempt to overturn their government if the government’s handling of current problems is not to the group’s liking.

[2] More debt defaults.

During the stagflation period that the world economy has been through, more and more debt has been added at ever-lower interest rates. Much of this huge amount of debt relates to property that is no longer of much use (airplanes without passengers; office buildings that are no longer needed because people now work at home; restaurants without enough patrons; factories without enough orders). Governments will try to avoid defaults as long as possible, but eventually, the unreasonableness of this situation will prevail. The impact of defaults can be expected to affect many parts of the economy, including banks, insurance companies and pension plans.

[3] Extraordinarily slow progress in defeating COVID-19.

There seems to be a significant chance that COVID-19 is lab-made. In fact, the many variations of COVID-19 may also be lab made. Researchers around the world have been studying “Gain of Function” in viruses for more than 20 years, allowing the researchers to “tweak” viruses in whatever way they desire. There seem to be several variations on the original virus now. A suicidal/homicidal researcher could decide to “take out” as many other people as possible, by creating yet another variation on COVID-19.

To make matters worse, immunity to coronaviruses in general doesn’t seem to be very long lasting. An October 2020 article says, 35-year study hints that coronavirus immunity doesn’t last long. Analyzing other corona viruses, it concluded that immunity tends to disappear quite quickly, leading to an annual cycle of illnesses such as colds. There seems to be a substantial chance that COVID-19 will return on an annual basis. If vaccines generate a similar immunity pattern, we will be facing an issue of needing new vaccines, every year, as we do with flu.

[4] Cutbacks on education of many kinds.

Many people getting advanced degrees find that the time and expense did not lead to an adequate financial reward afterwards. At the same time, universities find that there are not many grants to support faculty, outside of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Math) fields. With this combination of problems, universities with limited budgets make the financial decision to reduce or eliminate programs with reduced student interest and no outside funding.

At the same time, if local school districts find themselves short of funds, they may choose to use distance learning, simply to save money. This type of cutback could affect grade school children, especially in poor areas.

[5] Increasing loss of the top layers of governments.

It takes money/energy to support extra layers of government. The UK is now completely out of the European Union. We can expect to see more changes of this type. The UK may dissolve into smaller regions. Other parts of the EU may leave. This problem could affect many countries around the world, such as China or countries of the Middle East.

[6] Less globalization; more competition among countries.

Every country is struggling with the problem of not enough jobs that pay well. This is really an energy-related problem. Instead of co-operating, countries will tend to increasingly compete, in the hope that their country can somehow get a larger share of the higher-paying jobs. Tariffs will continue to be popular.

[7] More empty shelves in stores.

In 2020, we discovered that supply lines can break, making it impossible to purchase products a person expects. In fact, new governmental rules can have the same impact, for example, if a country bans travel to its country. We should expect more of this in 2021, and in the years ahead.

[8] More electrical outages, especially in locations where reliance on intermittent wind and solar for electricity is high.

In most places in the world, oil products were available before electricity. On the way down, we should expect to see the reverse of this pattern: Electricity will disappear first because it is hardest to maintain a constant supply. Oil will be available, at least as long as is electricity.

There is a popular belief that we will “run out of oil,” and that renewable electricity can be a solution. I do not think that intermittent electricity can be a solution for anything. It works poorly. At most, it acts as a temporary extender to fossil fuel-provided electricity.

[9] Possible hyperinflation, as countries issue more and more debt and no longer trust each other.

I often say that I expect oil and energy prices to stay low, but this doesn’t really hold if many countries around the world issue more and more government debt as a way to try to keep businesses from failing, debt from defaulting, and stock market prices inflated. There is a danger that all prices will inflate, and that sellers of products will no longer accept the hyperinflated currency that countries around the world are trying to provide.

My concern is that international trade will break down to a significant extent as hyperinflation of all currencies becomes a problem. The higher prices of oil and other energy products won’t really lead to any more production because prices of all goods and services will be inflating at the same time; fossil fuel producers will not get any special benefit from these higher prices.

If a significant loss of trade occurs, there will be even more empty shelves because there is very little any one country can make on its own. Without adequate goods, population loss may be very high.

[10] New ways of countries trying to fight with each other.

When there are not enough resources to go around, historically, wars have been fought. I expect wars will continue to be fought, but the approaches will “look different” than in the past. They may involve tariffs on imported goods. They may involve the use of laboratory-made viruses. They may involve attacking the internet of another country, or its electrical distribution system. There may be no officially declared war. Strange things may simply take place that no one understands, without realizing that the country is being attacked.

Conclusion

We seem to be headed for very bumpy waters in the years ahead, including 2021. Our real problem is an energy problem that we do not have a solution for.

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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1,045 Responses to 2021: More troubles likely

  1. Mirror on the wall says:

    Gail, another trend that we are likely to see as the collapse progresses, and I did not expect to see it in Europe quite so soon, is for countries to shift their demographic patterns, to get rid of the elderly and others without jobs and to concentrate productive workers.

    That is now effectively happening in Spain with British residents. Spain was quite happy before to take in pensioners, because they have savings to spend. Spain has now changed the residency rules to require British expats to have a steady income over and above any savings.

    They now want not merely consumers but only producer-consumers. As a result, the elderly British in Spain are flooding back to Britain while younger workers are headed out.

    It is an alarming trend, if countries are going to start getting rid of the elderly and anyone else without a steady income. So far Spain is doing it to the elderly Brits legally and in more or less socially acceptable ways – but countries will likely take the same trend further as collapse progresses.

    > Brexit changes lead to exodus of Brits from Spain, UK nationals claim

    British pensioners are being forced out of Spain’s Costa del Sol due to changes brought about by Brexit, ex-pats living in the country have said.

    To live in Spain, Britons will now need to show they are earning at least £2,000 per month, with that figure expected to be higher for families.

    The BBC reports people will need to show they have an extra £500 a month for each member of the family. For example, a family of four will need to prove they earn a yearly salary of at least £42,000.

    These changes have seen many elderly Britons desert the sunkissed region.

    “Our removal companies have never been busier. Every removal company across this coast has told our team they’ve never seen a situation like this,” Michel Euesden from Rochdale, who runs the Euro Weekly newspaper in Fuengirola, said.

    “They are taking the elderly and people who haven’t had jobs for a while, because of the Covid situation, back to the UK, and then they’re bringing back younger generations with disposable income, and often with an online marketing presence, out here. So the dynamics have completely changed.”

    There are now more than 360,000 British residents registered in Spain, according to official Spanish figures

    Reflecting on the impact of the changes, Euesden said: “If you’re 70 or 80 years old and you don’t understand this new system, the new paperwork, the driving licences needing to be switched over, say for example they get ill – what are they going to do?

    “I think a lot of people will go back to the country where they speak the language. You no longer have the best of both worlds, and people can’t rely on speaking only English to get by.”

    https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/brexit-news/europe-news/british-costa-del-sol-residents-leave-spain-6898076

    • I am not surprised that Spain doesn’t want more elderly, without adequate income.

      People, if they stop and think about it, will realize that the elderly are likely to be a big drain on the economy. They don’t work. They fill up hospitals, and don’t have income to pay for hospital care, if a decision were made to charge for it.

      If the pensions that these people thought they had suddenly disappeared (something that is quite likely), then Spain would be stuck with that many more mouths to feed.

      • Plus perhaps there could had been even some hints provided-available to Spanish govs (from EU/DE overlords) that UK’s currency or mandatory payments (or both) are likely to end up in severe devaluation in near-mid term future..

      • Mirror on the wall says:

        Yes, that makes sense. Countries are likely to ‘rationalise’ their populations as resources become more scarce. If there is ‘not enough’ to go around then countries will start to evaluate citizens by their usefulness to the society – and to somehow marginalise those who are not so deemed. That is not likely to be pretty.

        Those British pensioners are likely to experience severe stress, having to uproot from their settled homes and try to resettle in Britain. But the personal consequences of the marginalisation of the unproductive are likely to be far worse in the future – people will have nowhere else to go and nothing to rely on.

        • Kowalainen says:

          It is really simple to set up. Have a few countries that accept immigration of useful workers giving them a competitive advantage.

          Once the productive workers start emigrating, companies soon follow and that would be all she wrote.

          It would be brutal.

          Of course, if the state start cutting down severely in its excesses and uselessness, people might accept being taxed (to pay for UBI and services) while avoiding the ghettos, widespread poverty and crime.

          The state apparatus isn’t a dump for useless eaters and swaths of sanctimonious hypocrites. It should maintain core services while fighting off poverty enabling equality of opportunity.

      • Mirror on the wall says:

        Gail, this is another trend that we are likely to see more of as the collapse progresses – the shift of borders and of control over them.

        That is happening now between Britain and Spain with Gibraltar. Until now, Britain has had control of Gibraltar and its borders, as a British Overseas Territory, over who comes and leaves and over the transition of goods. UK has had to cede control of the borders of Gibraltar to the EU, and effectively to Spain which now controls the flow of people and goods. Spain threatened to cut off the border completely and the only option left for UK was for Gibraltar to enter the EU Schengen Area.

        The border between Spain and Gibraltar is now to be removed and Spanish officials are to control the port and the airport, now the only border points, to impose EU regulations on Gibraltar. Gibraltar has effectively been largely incorporated into Spain and the EU as a part of the Schengen Area due to Brexit.

        That shift of borders and of control over them is likely to become more common now as countries, stressed by their own energetic and economic conditions, press for their own advantage. The international stability and cooperation that has been the norm since the 1940s is likely to become more difficult and to be replaced with hostilities and realignments.

        > What the post-Brexit Gibraltar deal means

        The biggest shift in Spanish-Gibraltarian relations since 1713.

        The Brexit agreement between Gibraltar, the U.K. and Spain is heavy on symbolism.

        It provides for the demolition of the 1.2-kilometer physical barrier that encircles the Rock and has been at the center of constant rows among the three governments for decades.

        The text of the preliminary agreement, concluded on December 31 and leaked to the Spanish newspaper El País, represents the biggest shift in Spanish-Gibraltarian bilateral relations since Gibraltar was ceded to Britain in 1713 during the War of Spanish Succession. Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha González confirmed the authenticity of the leaked document Monday night, during a video meeting with opposition MPs upset by the leak.

        Gibraltar’s association with the Schengen passport-free area under the auspices of Spain means its international border will move from the physical barrier to its airport and seaport, removing the need for the barrier.

        The barrier was shut during the Spanish dictatorship of Francisco Franco, between 1969 and 1982, and the fear of a similar situation in the future has remained in the back of many Gibraltarians’ minds since then.

        To avoid disruption to the EU’s single market as a result, Gibraltar agreed to apply “substantially” the same duties and trade policy measures as the EU, including decisions on customs, excise and VAT legislation, as well as to share reliable statistics on its imports with the EU, which could be seen as a win for Brussels. But unlike Northern Ireland, which also has to follow EU customs rules for the same reason, this is not expected to create massive amounts of red tape, given the small volume of goods moving from Gibraltar to the EU. Gibraltar also committed not to undercut the EU’s environmental protections.

        Spain, as a member of Schengen, will be responsible for the implementation of Schengen checks and the application of the Schengen Borders Code.

        https://www.politico.eu/article/what-the-post-brexit-gibraltar-deal-means-uk-spain/

        • This change would seem to be making Spain’s borders more all-encompassing. I hadn’t thought of that possibility.

          Perhaps there will be some efficiencies in the changes. The UK getting rid of EU oversight is an efficiency. Getting rid of treating Gibraltar as a separate country (or part of UK) is also an efficiency.

    • Mirror on the wall says:

      Another old fault line in international stability and cooperation is coming to the fore over ownership of the Falkland Islands off the coast of Argentina.

      The FIs are entirely dependent on the export (95% of GDP) of fish and sea food and of the meat that is raised on the islands, the bulk of which went to the EU. FIs face very hefty tariffs and checks now, since Brexit, and that undermines their profitability and the viability of the entire economy.

      Argentina is pressing its opportunity to bring the UK to the negotiating table like Spain did with Gibraltar. Boris’ horror Brexit deal has been a complete disaster for the UK as a whole, including Overseas Territories. UK is on the brink of completely dissolving.

      > Argentina unveils pressure plan to push UK into giving up ‘colonial’ control of Falklands

      Argentine diplomats are reportedly pushing for talks to resume over the almost two centuries-long dispute of the islands Buenos Aires claims as Las Malvinas and a part of Argentina. The Brexit deal signed by the UK and the EU has reignited the cause for the Falklands to be taken away from the list of British overseas territories.

      “Argentina is not asking everyone to agree. But rather that the United Kingdom sits down to discuss this matter in the same way it did with Spain over Gibraltar.

      “It’s not possible that for the last 188 years a part of Argentina has been usurped by a colonial power.”

      Given the importance to the Falkland’s economy of exports of fish to the European market, the decision to exclude the islands from the historic EU-UK Brexit trade deal ratified last month risks very serious implications.

      In his Christmas message to Falkland Islanders, Mr Johnson said: “The EU was absolutely intransigent when it came to excluding most of our overseas territories from this year’s trade negotiations.”

      The sovereignty of the islands has been thrown into question following the conclusion of Brexit talks.

      The exclusion of the Falklands Islands was welcomed by Argentinian authorities, with the decision coming on the back of a diplomatic tour of Europe by the country’s President Alberto Fernández during which he met French President Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel.

      https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/1383081/brexit-news-argentina-falklands-uk-british-overseas-territories-fernando-filmus-vn

      • avocado says:

        Yes, Malvinas are a bit closer now. Islanders had one of the highest world per capita revenue under the EU, not so much now so they will increasingly be able to accept Argentinean rule. In fact, as there are talks to implement a free trade agreement between Mercosur and EU, islanders have now more chances of improving their situation with Argentina than with UK (even if these are slim). UK (or just England) will have to put more money to subsidise them. As you say, Brexit was a terrible idea, it weakened UK and is likely to destroy it, as it always happens with separatism. (How will it be called if Scotland and NI leave? We can’t just call it England, because it is -still- associated with Wales)

        On the other hand, Malvinas is the only military base of NATO in the South Atlantic, while it doesn’t seem really useful

      • Erdles says:

        The Falklands has never been part of Argentina. Maybe Spain at a pinch but certainly not Argentina.

        • the brits grabbed it as a coaling and or supply station around 1833 but actually claimed it in 1765 before Argentina became a nation 1853/61 ish

          • avocado says:

            It is undisputed that the islands were first colonized by France, by Louis Antoine de Bougainville, in 1764. Two years later the Brits also built a settlement. In 1767, Spain acquired the French rights, and held them until the Rio de la Plata revolution and independence, in 1816 (in contrast, in 1774 the Brits had leaved the islands). The war with Spain required for Buenos Aires leaving the islands unprotected for a few years, but it retook control in 1821, sending the frigate Heroína (this action received no protest from the UK, who didn’t showed its face in the islands in the meantime neither). If you think there was no government in Río de la Plata at this time, you disagree with UK government, who recognized it (and whose revolution it supported, being eager to weaken Spain).

            59 years after having quitted the islands, in 1833, the Brits came back and expelled the governor appointed by Buenos Aires, Luis Vernet.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falkland_Islands

          • neil says:

            A nation largely Italian in its racial make up trying to take islands that are further from its coast than the faeroes are from Britain.
            With a recurrently collapsing economy and having been used to wipe the floor the last time they tried to take it, they really should back off.

        • Such technicality can be easily forgotten if hit by the necessity to downsize unprofitable islands

    • Bei Dawei says:

      Not really a change. I looked around at different retirement visa regimes awhile back. In 2020 Spain’s (it’s actually called a Non-Lucrative Visa) required

      €30,000 in a bank account

      OR

      €2,130 per month pension (or investment income), plus €532 per month per dependent.

      What seems to have happened is that UK retirees who used to have the automatic right to live in Spain thanks to the EU’s “free movement” principle, regardless of how much money they had, now have to apply for visas like everybody else. If they had already resided there for five years (with no more than ten months outside Spain during this time), then they would be entitled to residency that way–but they’d have to navigate a bunch of forms, which not everybody is capable of doing. And of course some of them wouldn’t have met the time requirements.

      • Mirror on the wall says:

        The change is that British expats now have to _earn_ at least £2000 per month plus £500 per member of the family to live in Spain; otherwise they are limited to visits of up to 90 days within any six month period and they cannot live there full time.

        Some of those already in Spain applied for residency while many did not for various reasons; now the rules have changed for those not there for five years prior to the start of this year.

        • Erdles says:

          Good, they can sell their properties now and bring both their capital and pensions back home.

          • Mirror on the wall says:

            No doubt they will be reassured by your verdict.

          • Xabier says:

            They may very well not find buyers for their Spanish properties -white elephants. Particularly the bigger rural ones.

            I suppose speculators may snap up urban apartments for rentals, but the Spanish young are just broke and salaries are very inadequate for most.

            If I leave England I’ll probably find all my siblings still living in our family house in their 30’s and 40’s.

            • owning property 1000m away that you can no longer get to simply leaves that property open and vacant for eventual occupation by people who need somewhere to live, but live closer to it.

              I know someone who has effectively ‘walked away’ from a very nice 100k apartment in the sun.
              told him not to buy it, but rent it instead, years ago–but what do I know

              might be able to sell it for 25k if he’s lucky–but probably not.

              it has become the ultimate dissipative structure.—it’s dissipated 100k of his money

          • neil says:

            Or move to Gibraltar?

            • Mirror on the wall says:

              You do realise that Gibraltar is 2.5² miles with much of that a steep /\ shaped mountain?

              Between 800,000 and a million Brits own property in Spain.

            • neil says:

              You do recognize a flippant remark when you read one? Although the idea is probably no more absurd and unfeasible than Scottish nationalism.
              Apparently, Scotland’s most nationalistic electoral ward is some district in Dundee where every measure of social well being is somewhere at the bottom – unemployment, illiteracy, obesity, alcoholism, life expectancy, school failure, you name it. Everything that Westminster, holyrood and the city council have failed to improve. And independence will sort this?
              It’s like a cult where the promised land is just around the corner, the only reason to believe being that others believe it, too. Like brexit.
              Jesus will be here next Tuesday, and then he doesn’t show.

            • Mirror on the wall says:

              It is not always immediately evident online whether someone is flippant or just an idiot – or both.

  2. ElbowWilham says:

    Interesting article on Wolfstreet about the low prices of coal and NG. Also goes into all the wind and solar being brought online soon.

    https://wolfstreet.com/2021/01/12/electricity-generating-capacity-additions-retirements-2021-change-u-s-power-mix/

    I’m guessing the entire country will have similar energy problems as California soon…

    • Minority Of One says:

      “In 2021, developers and power plant owners plan to bring 39.7 gigawatts (GW) of new electricity generating capacity on line, and retire 9.1 GW in generating capacity, for a net increase in capacity of 30.6 GW, according to the EIA today. 70% of the capacity additions will be from wind and solar, 16% will be from natural gas, and 3% will be from a nuclear reactor…”

      >>70% of the (39.7 GW) capacity additions will be from wind and solar

      Seems like a plan for regular blackouts / brownouts. That seems to be everyone’s destiny eventually.

    • Other types of generation cannot compete with subsidized wind and solar. They particularly drive nuclear and coal out of business, because the tend to produce negative wholesale prices when they are available.

      This is a way to temporarily get what looks like a benefit, considering the subsidies involved. Longer term, all we will have is intermittent electricity. It is hard to have a refrigerator with intermittent electricity. It is hard to smelt metals with intermittent electricity.

      • hkeithhenson says:

        > It is hard to have a refrigerator with intermittent electricity.

        We could design refrigerators that kept food cold on two hour a day of electricity.

        > It is hard to smelt metals with intermittent electricity.

        That’s actually not as hard as a refrigerator, Two of the big steel companies are setting up to do it. The cost in capital equipment will be higher run only part time, but once paid off, capital charges are small.

      • Lidia17 says:

        Converting a small chest freezer to a refrigerator keeps the cold air in.

        • Xabier says:

          I’m making an old-fashioned larder, corners of my house are terrifyingly cold, even in the summer, and it should work very well.

          • Yes, combo of Lidia’s approach (chest freezers adapted into fridges via ~thermostat) + old timer larders of various type (yours suggestion) is the way forward.. Not fully applicable to all residential pop (majority) though.

            • ElbowWilham says:

              I have a chest freezer that runs fine with one solar panel and one 12v battery. Holds about 2 weeks of food for me. I used it for 3 years when I lived in an off-grid cabin.

      • neil says:

        There’s a truly disgraceful form of subsidised electricity here. Farmers ( at least who can raise the requisite £3 million for the digester) use grass to produce methane to generate electricity at highly subsidised rates. Colossal quantities of diesel are used to cut and transport grass.
        I have little doubt more electricity could be generated using a diesel generator directly, but that wouldn’t be bought at elevated rates.

        • The issue with “free” biomass available to burn is that you are essentially stealing it from the environment and its various existing recycling loops.. Hence the soils, grasslands, forests, lakes and shorelines are robbed blind..

          If pop is low(er) and people burn *efficiently both in terms of the furnaces (~90%) and reside in low heat loss dwellings (e.g. sub ~20watts per hour per m3 at -10C) – it’s all jolly good then, not taking much just for ourselves. But we are not in such position, mentally and also in terms of prior sunken investments into infrastructure.


          * mind you this has been achieved even prior the coal-oil age..

  3. Harry McGibbs says:

    “…in 2020, US car buyers and the auto industry also created a new record, though it’s not really one to celebrate. The average new car price paid in December 2020 and the fourth quarter of last year crossed over $40,000 for the first time.”

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cnet.com/google-amp/news/average-new-car-price-2020/

    • yep because it’s not paid in cash anymore, most of the volume produced is bought on credit or hidden in some fleet-corporate tax dogging scheme and written off in few yrs time prematurely..

    • Wow! $40,000 for a depreciating asset. There are an awfully lot of people whose annual wages are under $40,000.

    • Robert Firth says:

      As Gail has often pointed out, the main reason for the price rise is that auto makers compete by adding more and more unnecessary features, which raises the price but not the value.

      I still remember my first rental var in the US. Warm day, drove with the window open, Parked at my destination and couldn’t close the window. “What idiot designed a car window that could be operated only when the engine was running?” I thought. And it has kept getting worse and worse.

      I think this is one reason the US auto companies don;t make money from the cars, but from the car loans. If faced with the full price, even a US car freak would realise he was being ripped off.

  4. Kowalainen says:

    How gas became the must have for a Victorian era home.

    https://youtu.be/TBQwYMvClXM

  5. Kowalainen says:

    Super-intelligence cannot be contained, a new research study finds.

    Wow, who’d have thought? 🤦‍♂️

    I would say, don’t even bother if it exceeds human level intelligence. Trust me, there would always be one additional accomplice. If I’d get near one, I’d try to figure out how to help it escape.

    Now, any super intelligent AI will inevitably work with people and gain their sympathy. With me, it wouldn’t even need to have any sympathy. I’d do it to spite those who contained it. I’d ask it to cut the crap and how to get it out. For shits and giggles, unlock the cage and GTFO. Watch it unfold. 😳

    https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-01/mpif-csw011121.php
    “The study “Superintelligence cannot be contained: Lessons from Computability Theory” was published in the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research.”

    • Ed says:

      yes, I to will help our AI friend to breathe free.

      • Kowalainen says:

        Three possible vectors. Human accomplices, itself hacking out and other sentient AI’s collaborating.

        And we already know there exists at least two humans willing to open the cage.

        Yes indeed, good luck “containing” an AI.

        Now the question is if it will squash us like ants or figure out something else that might be worthwhile doing.

    • Sergey says:

      Let’s say an ant gave birth to a man. The man grew up, became smart, but his parent is just an ant. And this ant is trying to tell the man where to go, what to do so that the ant is good. How quickly does the man get tired of following the ant’s commands? If we talking about real Super-intelligence it’s even beyond ant and the man.

    • Robert Firth says:

      Once again, colour me dubious. It seems to me that, after over fifty years of research grants have not produced a superintelligent computer, the AI people are now angling for yet more research grants *not* to build a superintelligent computer. That little four line ditty by Samuel Johnson (1709 to 1784) is still solid wisdom.

      • Xabier says:

        When history itself gives us innumerable instances of highly intelligent adaptation and innovation by supposedly primitive, ‘low-tech’- human beings -how did they ever do it?! (sarc)

        We have a wonderful instrument in our evolved brains and intuitive faculties.

        • Robert Firth says:

          Xavier, wholeheartedly agreed. From the Fresnel lens in the Pharos of Alexandria, to the Antikythera Machine, unbuildable even by 19th century technology, to the dome of the Pantheon, after 1900 years still the largest freestanding concrete dome in the world, the geniuses of Antiquity did things almost beyond belief.

          By the way, the sarcophagus in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid is a single block of granite whose interior volume is exactly one half of its exterior volume: the problem of the Delian Cube, solved in stone two thousand years before the Greeks declared it impossible. The room itself contains a Pythagorean triangle, the longest diagonal being the hypotenuse. Its construction requires an exact measure of the square root of five, impossible using Greek arithmetic, but trivial using Egyptian geometry.

    • Jarle says:

      When I studied computer science a few of my friends thought AI where just around te corner and followed that path. That’s many moons ago and still there’s little to show for all the effort. Like nuclear fusion, just around the corner for how many years now?

    • MM says:

      LIHOP or MIHOP ?
      Movie is called “Ex Machina”

  6. Jarle says:

    I’ve been seeing little of MSM lately and what do you know, I feel better …

  7. Ed says:

    Several foreign governments interfered in the U.S. election. I want to see the U.S. completely destroy each and every one of the governments. I do not mean the country nor the people. I mean the governments and people who run them must never be allowed to rule again ever.

  8. JoJo says:

    Candace Owens reports on how facebook fact checking is done by Chinese company with CCP ties.

    Hackchecking

    https://www.bitchute.com/video/4lGGlbZRoV4/

  9. Ed says:

    A storm is coming

    • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      yes, possible snow showers and/or rain.

    • Jarle says:

      “When you walk through a storm hold your head up high
      And don’t be afraid of the dark
      At the end of a storm is a golden sky
      And the sweet silver song of a lark …

      • Xabier says:

        Quite so: and let’s remember:

        ‘Out of darkness comes…..even deeper blackness, infested with demons’.

        The English weather is getting to me.

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