How Energy Transition Models Go Wrong

I have written many posts relating to the fact that we live in a finite world. At some point, our ability to extract resources becomes constrained. At the same time, population keeps increasing. The usual outcome when population is too high for resources is “overshoot and collapse.” But this is not a topic that the politicians or central bankers or oligarchs who attend the World Economic Forum dare to talk about.

Instead, world leaders find a different problem, namely climate change, to emphasize above other problems. Conveniently, climate change seems to have some of the same solutions as “running out of fossil fuels.” So, a person might think that an energy transition designed to try to fix climate change would work equally well to try to fix running out of fossil fuels. Unfortunately, this isn’t really the way it works.

In this post, I will lay out some of the issues involved.

[1] There are many different constraints that new energy sources need to conform to.

These are a few of the constraints I see:

  • Should be inexpensive to produce
  • Should work with the current portfolio of existing devices
  • Should be available in the quantities required, in the timeframe needed
  • Should not pollute the environment, either when created or at the end of their lifetimes
  • Should not add CO2 to the atmosphere
  • Should not distort ecosystems
  • Should be easily stored, or should be easily ramped up and down to precisely match energy timing needs
  • Cannot overuse fresh water or scarce minerals
  • Cannot require a new infrastructure of its own, unless the huge cost in terms of delayed timing and greater materials use is considered.

If an energy type is simply a small add-on to the existing system, perhaps a little deviation from the above list can be tolerated, but if there is any intent of scaling up the new energy type, all of these requirements must be met.

It is really the overall cost of the system that is important. Historically, the use of coal has helped keep the overall cost of the system down. Substitutes need to be developed considering the overall needs and cost of the system.

The reason why the overall cost of the system is important is because countries with high-cost energy systems will have a difficult time competing in a world market since energy costs are an important part of the cost of producing goods and services. For example, the cost of operating a cruise ship depends, to a significant extent, on the cost of the fuel it uses.

In theory, energy types that work with different devices (say, electric cars and trucks instead of those operated by internal combustion engines) can be used, but a long delay can be expected before a material shift in overall energy usage occurs. Furthermore, a huge ramp up in the total use of materials for production may be required. The system cannot work if the total cost is too high, or if the materials are not really available, or if the timing is too slow.

[2] The major thing that makes an economy grow is an ever increasing supply of inexpensive-to-produce energy products.

Food is an energy product. Let’s think of what happens when agriculture is mechanized, typically using devices that are made and operated using coal and oil. The cost of producing food drops substantially. Instead of spending, for example, 50% of a person’s wages on food, the percentage can gradually drop down to 20% of wages, and then to 10% of wages for food, and eventually even, say, to 2% of wages for food.

As spending on food falls, opportunity for other spending arises, even with wages remaining relatively level. With lower food expenditures, a person can spend more on books (made with energy products), or personal transportation (such as a vehicle), or entertainment (also made possible by energy products). Strangely enough, in order for an economy to grow, essential items need to become an ever decreasing share of everyone’s budget, so that citizens have sufficient left-over income available for more optional items.

It is the use of tools, made and operated with inexpensive energy products of the right types, that leverages human labor so that workers can produce more food in a given period of time. This same approach also makes many other goods and services available.

In general, the less expensive an energy product is, the more helpful it will be to an economy. A country operating with an inexpensive mix of energy products will tend to be more competitive in the world market than one with a high-cost mix of energy products. Oil tends to be expensive; coal tends to be inexpensive. This is a major reason why, in recent years, countries using a lot of coal in their energy mix (such as China and India) have been able to grow their economies much more rapidly than those countries relying heavily on oil in their energy mixes.

[3] If energy products are becoming more expensive to produce, or their production is not growing very rapidly, there are temporary workarounds that can hide this problem for quite a number of years.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, world coal and oil consumption were growing rapidly. Natural gas, hydroelectric and (a little) nuclear were added, as well. Cost of production remained low. For example, the price of oil, converted to today’s dollar value, was less than $20 per barrel.

Once the idyllic 1950s and 1960s passed, it was necessary to hide the problems associated with the rising cost of production using several approaches:

  • Increasing use of debt – really a promise of future goods and services made with energy
  • Lower interest rates – permits increasing debt to be less of a financial burden
  • Increasing use of technology – to improve efficiency in energy usage
  • Growing use of globalization – to make use of other countries’ cheaper energy mix and lower cost of labor

After 50+ years, we seem to be reaching limits with respect to all of these techniques:

  • Debt levels are excessive
  • Interest rates are very low, even below zero
  • Increasing use of technology as well as globalization have led to greater and greater wage disparity; many low level jobs have been eliminated completely
  • Globalization has reached its limits; China has reached a situation in which its coal supply is no longer growing

[4] The issue that most people fail to grasp is the fact that with depletion, the cost of producing energy products tends to rise, but the selling prices of these energy products do not rise enough to keep up with the rising cost of depletion.

As a result, production of energy products tends to fall because production becomes unprofitable.

As we get further and further away from the ideal situation (oil less than $20 per barrel and rising in quantity each year), an increasing number of problems crop up:

  • Both oil/gas companies and coal companies become less profitable.
  • With lower energy company profits, governments can collect less taxes from these companies.
  • As old wells and mines deplete, the cost of reinvestment becomes more of a burden. Eventually, new investment is cut back to the point that production begins to fall.
  • With less growth in energy consumption, productivity growth tends to lag. This happens because energy is required to mechanize or computerize processes.
  • Wage disparity tends to grow; workers become increasingly unhappy with their governments.

[5] Authorities with an incorrect understanding of why and how energy supplies fall have assumed that far more fossil fuels would be available than is actually the case. They have also assumed that relatively high prices for alternatives would be acceptable.

In 2012, Jorgen Randers prepared a forecast for the next 40 years for The Club of Rome, in the form of a book, 2052, with associated data. Looking at the data, we see that Randers forecast that world coal consumption would grow by 28% between 2010 and 2020. In fact, world coal consumption grew by 0% in that period. (This latter forecast is based on BP coal consumption estimates for 2010 and 2019 from BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2020, adjusted for the 2019 to 2020 period change using IEA’s estimate from its Global Energy Review 2021.)

It is very easy to assume that high estimates of coal resources in the ground will lead to high quantities of actual coal extracted and burned. The world’s experience between 2010 and 2020 shows that it doesn’t necessarily work out that way in practice. In order for coal consumption to grow, the delivered price of coal needs to stay low enough for customers to be able to afford its use in the end products it provides. Much of the supposed coal that is available is far from population centers. Some of it is even under the North Sea. The extraction and delivery costs become far too high, but this is not taken into account in resource estimates.

Forecasts of future natural gas availability suffer from the same tendency towards over-estimation. Randers estimated that world gas consumption would grow by 40% between 2010 and 2020, when the actual increase was 22%. Other authorities make similar overestimates of future fuel use, assuming that “of course,” prices will stay high enough to enable extraction. Most energy consumption is well-buried in goods and services we buy, such as the cost of a vehicle or the cost of heating a home. If we cannot afford the vehicle, we don’t buy it; if the cost of heating a family’s home rises too high, thrifty families will turn down the thermostat.

Oil prices, even with the recent run-up in prices, are under $75 per barrel. I have estimated that for profitable oil production (including adequate funds for high-cost reinvestment and sufficient taxes for governments), oil prices need to be over $120 per barrel. It is the lack of profitability that has caused the recent drop in production. These profitability problems can be expected to lead to more production declines in the future.

With this low-price problem, fossil fuel estimates used in climate model scenarios are almost certainly overstated. This bias would be expected to lead to overstated estimates of future climate change.

The misbelief that energy prices will always rise to cover higher costs of production also leads to the belief that relatively high-cost alternatives to fossil fuels would be acceptable.

[6] Our need for additional energy supplies of the right kinds is extremely high right now. We cannot wait for a long transition. Even 30 years is too long.

We saw in section [3] that the workarounds for a lack of growing energy supply, such as higher debt and lower interest rates, are reaching limits. Furthermore, prices have been unacceptably low for oil producers for several years. Not too surprisingly, oil production has started to decline:

Figure 1 – World production of crude oil and condensate, based on data of the US Energy Information Administration

What is really needed is sufficient energy of the right types for the world’s growing population. Thus, it is important to look at energy consumption on a per capita basis. Figure 2 shows energy production per capita for three groupings:

  • Tier 1: Oil and Coal
  • Tier 2: Natural Gas, Nuclear, and Hydroelectric
  • Tier 3: Other Renewables, including Intermittent Wind and Solar
Figure 2 World per capita energy consumption by Tier. Amounts through 2019 based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2020. Changes for 2020 based on estimates provided by IEA Global Energy Review 2021.

Figure 2 shows that the biggest drop is in Tier 1: Coal and Oil. In many ways, coal and oil are foundational types of energy for the economy because they are relatively easy to transport and store. Oil is important because it is used in operating agricultural machinery, road repair machinery, and vehicles of all types, including ships and airplanes. Coal is important partly because of its low cost, helping paychecks to stretch further for finished goods and services. Coal is used in many ways, including electricity production and making steel and concrete. We use coal and oil to keep electricity transmission lines repaired.

Figure 2 shows that Tier 2 energy consumption per capita was growing rapidly in the 1965 to 1990 period, but its growth has slowed in recent years.

The Green Energy sources in Tier 3 have been growing rapidly from a low base, but their output is still tiny compared to the overall output that would be required if they were to substitute for energy from both Tier 1 and Tier 2 sources. They clearly cannot by themselves power today’s economy.

It is very difficult to imagine any of the Tier 2 and Tier 3 energy sources being able to grow without substantial assistance from coal and oil. All of today’s Tier 2 and Tier 3 energy sources depend on coal and oil at many points in the chain of their production, distribution, operation, and eventual recycling. If we ever get to Tier 4 energy sources (such as fusion or space solar), I would expect that they too will need oil and/or coal in their production, transport and distribution, unless there is an incredibly long transition, and a huge change in energy infrastructure.

[7] It is easy for energy researchers to set their sights too low.

[a] We need to be looking at the extremely low energy cost structure of the 1950s and 1960s as a model, not some far higher cost structure.

We have been hiding the world’s energy problems for years behind rising debt and falling interest rates. With very high debt levels and very low interest rates, it is becoming less feasible to stimulate the economy using these approaches. We really need very inexpensive energy products. These energy products need to provide a full range of services required by the economy, not simply intermittent electricity.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, the ratio of Energy Earned to Energy Investment was likely in the 50:1 range for many energy products. Energy products were very profitable; they could be highly taxed. The alternative energy products we develop today need to have similar characteristics if they truly are to play an important role in the economy.

[b] A recent study says that greenhouse gas emissions related to the food system account for one-third of the anthropogenic global warming gas total. A way to grow sufficient food is clearly needed.

We clearly cannot grow food using intermittent electricity. Farming is not an easily electrified endeavor. If we do not have an alternative, the coal and oil that we are using now in agriculture really needs to continue, even if it requires subsidies.

[c] Hydroelectric electricity looks like a good energy source, but in practice it has many deficiencies.

Some of the hydroelectric dams now in place are over 100 years old. This is nearing the lifetime of the concrete in the dams. Considerable maintenance and repair (indirectly using coal and oil) are likely to be needed if these dams are to continue to be used.

The water available to provide hydroelectric power tends to vary greatly over time. Figure 3 shows California’s hydro electricity generation by month.

Figure 3. California hydroelectric energy production by month, based on data of the US Energy Information Administration.

Thus, as a practical matter, hydroelectric energy needs to be balanced with fossil fuels to provide energy which can be used to power a factory or heat a home in winter. Battery storage would never be sufficient. There are too many gaps, lasting months at a time.

If hydroelectric energy is used in a tropical area with dry and wet seasons, the result would be even more extreme. A poor country with a new hydroelectric power plant may find the output of the plant difficult to use. The electricity can only be used for very optional activities, such as bitcoin mining, or charging up small batteries for lights and phones.

Any new hydroelectric dam runs the risk of taking away the water someone else was depending upon for irrigation or for their own electricity generation. A war could result.

[d] Current approaches for preventing deforestation mostly seem to be shifting deforestation from high income countries to low income countries. In total, deforestation is getting worse rather than better.

Figure 4. Forest area percentage of land area, by income group, based on data of the World Bank.

Figure 4 shows that deforestation is getting rapidly worse in Low Income countries with today’s policies. There is also a less pronounced trend toward deforestation in Middle Income countries. It is only in High Income countries that land areas are becoming more forested. In total (not shown), the forested area for the world as a whole falls, year after year.

Also, even when replanting is done, the new forests do not have the same characteristics as those made by natural ecosystems. They cannot house as many different species as natural ecosystems. They are likely to be less resistant to problems like insect infestations and forest fires. They are not true substitutes for the forest ecosystems that nature creates.

[e] The way intermittent wind and solar have been added to the electric grid vastly overpays these providers, relative to the value they add to the system. Furthermore, the subsidies for intermittent renewables tend to drive out more stable producers, degrading the overall condition of the grid.

If wind and solar are to be used, payments for the electricity they provide need to be scaled back to reflect the true value that they add to the overall system. In general, this corresponds to the savings in fossil fuel purchases that electricity providers need to make. This will be a small amount, perhaps 2 cents per kilowatt hour. Even this small amount, in theory, might be reduced to reflect the greater electricity transmission costs associated with these intermittent sources.

We note that China is making a major step in the direction of reducing subsidies for wind and solar. It has already dramatically cut its subsidies for wind energy; new subsidy cuts for solar energy will become effective August 1, 2021.

A major concern is the distorting impact that current pricing approaches for wind and solar have on the overall electrical system. Often, these approaches produce very low, or negative, wholesale prices for other providers. Nuclear providers are especially harmed by such practices. Nuclear is, of course, a low CO2 electricity provider.

It seems to me that in each part of the world, some utility-type provider needs to be analyzing what the overall funding of the electrical system needs to be. Bills to individuals and businesses need to reflect these actual expected costs. This approach might avoid the artificially low rates that the current pricing system often generates. If adequate funding can be achieved, perhaps some of the corner cutting that leads to electrical outages, such as recently encountered in California and Texas, might be avoided.

[8] When I look at the requirements for a successful energy transition and the obstacles we are up against, it is hard for me to see that any of the current approaches can be successful.

Unfortunately, it is hard for me to see how intermittent electricity can save the world economy, or even make a dent in our problems. We have searched for a very long time, but haven’t yet found solutions truly worth ramping up. Perhaps a new “Tier 4 approach” might be helpful, but such solutions seem likely to come too late.

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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3,781 Responses to How Energy Transition Models Go Wrong

  1. I crank on again: without fossil fuels, could there even BE power grids, or even hydro or nuclear, or even wind or solar power?
    Anyway, what AC power grid gets even nearly half its energy from IRE (intermittent renewable energy — wind, solar, etc.)?
    The main-stream-media & “accredited” edeecation systems tend to reflect the popular paradigms of the countries which host them — hence, we tend to hear little of such as is in the post above.

    • Using BP’s definition of “Other Renewables,” (which would include wood and sawdust burned for electricity and geothermal, besides wind and solar. It doesn’t include trash burned for electricity.), the BP indicates that in 2019, no country had as much as 50% of electricity from “Other renewables”. The closest seem to be:

      Germany 37%
      UK 35%
      Spain 28%
      Italy 24%
      Brazil 19%

      This schedule doesn’t show small countries individually, so there may be others with fairly high percentages.

      Australia is at 15%; Japan is at 12%; the US is at 11%; and China is at 10%.

      China generates far more electricity than the US or Europe. It is the world’s largest user of intermittent electricity, even though only 10% of its generation is from “Other renewables.”

  2. Tim Groves says:

    With so few planes flying these days, BA doesn’t need all their pilots, or this news of four of them dying in one week might be devastating.

    + + + + +

    Four young and healthy British Airways pilots recently passed away and the airline is claiming there is no link to the Covid-19 vaccine.

    The photo of the four books of condolence sitting next to framed pictures of the pilots was posted to Twitter and authenticated by Reuters.

    “Reuters presented the claims to British Airways, which said they were unfounded and that no such talks were underway with the government. The spokesperson, however, confirmed the authenticity of the four condolence books, as four company pilots had recently passed away. “Our thoughts are with their family and friends,” they said, adding that none of the deaths was linked to vaccines.”

    • I notice that the article says,

      “Because of this, BA are now in crisis talks with the government about whether to allow vaccinated pilots to fly.”

      Somebody must be thinking about the connection. The article doesn’t say when/if these pilots were vaccinated/

    • Xabier says:

      It might be that they expired en flagrante delicto with air hostesses, as is their wont between lights? A splendid way to go.

      Come now, Tim, sometimes it IS just a coincidence!

      A member of my family, a sculptor, died drunk in a ditch in the 1890’s: the obituary said ‘Died in the midst of his loving family’. Calling on Jesus, too, no doubt.

      • Minority Of One says:

        There seems to be a hellofalot of coincidences these days. Something to do with solar cycles?

      • Artleads says:

        “Come now, Tim, sometimes it IS just a coincidence!”

        Just as, sometimes, a cigar is JUST a cigar!

      • Tim Groves says:

        I think they would have been jabbed, though. The national carrier would have insisted on it based on a no jab no fly policy.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          the MSM continues to ignore this… for obvious reasons… they died from the Injection… they clearly did not die of natural causes:

          Every commercial pilot’s license holder is obliged to have a Class-1 medical check every year. A commander holding an airline transport pilot’s licence (ATPL) and all pilots aged over 40 are obliged to have medical tests twice a year. … But this is the part that must be passed by each pilot.

          (mike – do you like this insight? or do you prefer the moon one? maybe the CEP?)

        • nikoB says:

          Wasn’t it the airlines that have been pushing for vaccine passports? It would seem likely that their pilots are being vaccinated.
          What are the statistical chances of four pilots (1 in 30’s, 2 in 40’s and 1 in 50’s) dropping dead in the space of a couple of weeks.

  3. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Airlines, Banks And Other Companies Across The World Hit In The Latest Web Outage.

    “Several major companies, financial institutions and airlines from the U.S. to Australia and Hong Kong suffered brief online outages Thursday due to a third-party IT provider.”

    • I noticed an article about this. The article I read said that the problems were fixed within four hours, which is not a terribly short period of time.

      It doesn’t even need to be hacking to cause problems.

  4. Harry McGibbs says:

    “How ‘Chaos’ In The Shipping Industry Is Choking The Economy… Whidbey Islanders are getting a front row seat to the growing U.S. trade deficit, which is hitting record highs. It’s fueled by a surge in demand for imports, mostly from East Asia…

    “Lars Jensen, CEO of Vespucci Maritime, has spent 20 years studying the industry and he says what’s going on is unprecedented. “The container shipping industry is in a state of chaos that I don’t think it has ever been since it was invented,” he says.”

  5. Harry McGibbs says:

    “How the collapse of small towns across South Africa affects farming and agriculture…

    “[Small towns are devastated] when municipalities fail to provide basic services to their communities and businesses. These services include water and sanitation, electricity, roads and technological infrastructure… A growing number [of municipalities] are also failing to collect revenue from residents and businesses for electricity, water and property taxes.”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Kenya in serious financial crisis, Treasury CS Yatani now admits.

      “Treasury CS Ukur Yatani has promised to release Sh39 billion to counties by Friday to avert shutdown as he lifted the lid on the financial crisis hitting the government.”

    • I can see that if a municipality cannot provide water and sanitation, electricity, roads and technological infrastructure to its people, it will have a big problem.

      South Africa’s coal is becoming too expensive to extra, relative to the price citizens can afford to pay for electricity. This is a huge issue.

      • Don Millman says:

        Sasol still makes money by making oil out of coal. It has been in business a long time.

        • I haven’t looked at this, but I am suspicious that it can only produce a little high cost liquid fuel for a few selected people. This process takes a lot of water for one thing. The prices being paid for coal are too low for the coal providers, causing them problems.

          I notice that Sasol’s credit rating is “speculative grade credit.”
          Moody’s Ba2, under review
          S&P Global, BB, negative

          The auditor’s (PWC’s) statement raises questions about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.

          The financial statement linked indicates that there are huge “remeasurement items,” which I take to be write downs of what previously had been assets carried at higher levels. This seems to be big write-downs of subsidiaries property, plant and equipment, and goodwill. The balance sheet still includes a lot of goodwill as an asset, however.

          If the prices of oil and oil products rises a lot, relative to coal prices, the company could, in theory, do all right. But the ratio has been too low recently.

          • Minority Of One says:

            Don’t the prices of coal and oil tend to rise and fall in sync with a bit of a lag, generally speaking?

            About 10-15 years ago there were several attempts to get CTL (coal-to-liquids) projects going, but most did not get very far. The up-front capital costs are huge. India was going have a CTL project but I believe it never got off the ground, due to a lack of coal.

            • Don Millman says:

              Sasol has been making money and oil for fifty years. During World War Two Germany fueled its war machine with gasoline and diesel made from coal. Coal to liquids is feasible and profitable.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Too expensive

            • Don Millman says:

              Not too expensive because Sasol has been profitable for fifty years; their profits have been increasing this year as the price of oil has increased, Sasol is a big employer in South Africa, and their employees are some of the highest paid in the country.

            • Minority Of One says:

              The Nazis had no choice. Their oil imports stopped, were blockaded, and they had to use CTL.

              Can you list any other country with a viable CTL industry?

            • Don Millman says:

              South Africa where Sasol has made money for fifty years making coal into oil products.

  6. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Lockdowns imposed by India in April and May to contain the second wave of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic has likely led to the economy contracting 12 per cent in the June quarter as against 23.9 per cent contraction in the same quarter in 2020.”

  7. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Could a growth setback be the surprise scenario for US markets?

    “…what if the outcome turns out to be a less discussed and very undesirable scenario — a less impressive recovery once pandemic stimulus fades that leaves a burden of debt hanging like a deadweight on the economy?”

  8. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Debt, not demographics, will determine the future of China’s economy.

    “How well China responds to its worsening demographics will have more to do with how China’s economy adjusts from its investment-led growth model—and, primarily, how it adjusts its reliance on debt.”

  9. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The European Central Bank extended capital relief measures for the major eurozone banks it supervises for nine months today (June 18).

    “The ECB is allowing banks to continue excluding exposures from holdings of central bank assets from the leverage ratio it imposes on the eurozone’s biggest lenders.”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Germany says nein to eurozone banking safeguards… “Eurozone countries on Tuesday hit pause on reform plans designed to protect savers against a future banking crisis, amid deep resistance in Berlin.

      “For months, deputy finance ministers have been meeting behind closed doors to agree a timebound plan to introducing a shared deposit insurance system, which would help protect savers and public money from a financial collapse.“

      • ssincoski says:

        Harry, something about this is oddly disturbing. Could you add some context/interpretation? Are they essentially throwing up their hands and admitting there will be a financial collapse and they have no intention of trying to help us plebes?

        • Harry McGibbs says:

          Ssincoski, I must confess this article was the first I’d heard of this proposed common insurance policy.

          But from what I’m reading it sounds like “deposit guarantee schemes” currently operate on a nation by nation basis throughout the EU.

          This new “common insurance policy” would basically add a further backstop in the form of a central cash pot should a nation be too swamped by defaults to pay out on its guarantee schemes (not an impossible scenario!).

          The negotiations are apparently paralysed by the same “sensible” Germany versus spendthrift “Italy” dynamic that dogs the EU and may ultimately prove its undoing.

          It looks like EU officials are hoping that a potential change of government after the German elections in September might break the deadlock because clearly the current lot ain’t budging. 😆

          • All of these insurance schemes operate on the premise that it will be only one or two small banks with problems, so that a tiny charge against other banks can pay for the cost of this insurance.

            When the problem is systemic, this doesn’t work.

            I imagine the solution will be to try to create new money out of nothing to pay for all of the defaults.

            • Don Millman says:

              I think inflation is coming back. Swiss francs have held their value remarkably well over past decades.

        • Thierry says:

          A friend of mine was kindly invited today by his bank to present himself physically with his ID card or they would block all his accounts. He has no salary in this bank but several deposits representing, I guess, more than 100k€.
          The collapse is happening and the banks are already taking (stealing) all the money that they can. Creepy.

      • Mirror on the wall says:

        It is also about public debt. The Italian and other southern banks buy up bonds from the states, and they want to arrange it so that Germany picks up the tab if those banks go bust. It would be, in effect, a way of transferring money from Germany to the southern states – if the banks went bust. Savers are also a part of the mix.

        Germany is against it – southern banks could just give unlimited money to the states, and Germany would end up having to pick it up. The Italian state in particular is highly indebted, and it would raise interest rates there if the banks stopped printing money and giving it to the state (bonds), so there is a potential conflict of interests within the EU. It seems a bit shameless to openly depend on Germany for hand outs, but countries are gonna do what they are gonna do.

        From the same article:

        > Berlin refused to sanction a work plan laying out steps to create an EDIS without ensuring that banks reduce the amount of sovereign debt they have on their books — something Rome strongly opposes.

        Without the insurance scheme in place, people’s deposits remain vulnerable in the next financial crisis — a threat that’s growing by the day as pandemic-hit businesses struggle to pay back their bank loans while lenders struggle to turn a profit. A tsunami of bankruptcies could push many European banks over the edge, leaving EU governments, many of which are heavily indebted due to the pandemic, with the nightmare task of handling a banking crisis.

        Agreeing to EDIS would put the German banks and others on the hook for bailing out Southern savers. According to documents viewed by POLITICO, Berlin refused to introduce EDIS before the EU introduces fresh measures that will reduce the amount of public debt that banks buy from their sovereigns.

        The relationship is known as the doom-loop, as a government default would wipe out the country’s lenders, and has only deepened since the pandemic struck.

        Rome is dead set against initiatives that would discourage its banks from buying up Italian state bonds, officials who took part in Tuesday’s meetings said. Doing so could push up the cost of borrowing, a dangerous scenario for Italy considering its public debt pile of over 155 percent of economic output.

    • If the rules cause problems, just change the rules! I have run into this before.

      • Xabier says:

        An old game, Gail; hence the medieval legal maxim:

        ‘The law has a nose of wax,and the king can twist it whichever way pleases him.’

  10. CTG says:

    Humans are very good at modelling something small and not complicated like an electronic circuit or a jet engine. It is based on hard rules and usually physics and advanced mathematics are involved.

    To me personally, statistics is not mathematics (related to physics or calculation). It is more of a a guess of what will happen. Unlike 1+1=2, where the results are fixed, statistics are not absolute in terms of precision.

    Unfortunately a lot of models use statistics and inherently errors built up. Errors are then compounded. I am inclined to believe climate change models involve statistics.

    Models cannot be made for something that involves humans. Humans cannot be modeled accurately. At best humans can only be statistically modeled.

    FE is more excited about moon landing. Let us go further…

    The distance between earth and Saturn is around 850 million miles or 850,000,000 miles.

    If we have a precision of 5 decimal places (in all the navigation calculation), we will be off by 8500 miles

    Space is void. There is no space GPS. It is all dark and I am not sure how positions can be determined using stars. Stars can be used easily on earth because we have a reference points here on earth and it is only 2-D but in a 3-D space? I am not so sure.. It is said that NASA timed the signals between the space craft and large satellite dish. Trying to catch the very very feeble signal from Voyager and Pioneer satellites?

    In the 1960s and 1970s, how good is the accuracy? computers? Even lower computing power than 80386. All the equipment, how good are they in terms of accuracy? 5 decimal places? 10 decimal places?

    Up till today, I am not convinced how it can be done easily in the 1970s. Luck?

    Please have a look at this YouTube video. Very short. 1972 Limits To Growth

    Computer predicts the end of civilisation (1973)

    The best mainframes of IBM listed here.

    If the university bought the best mainframes System/370-158 or 168, it comes max with a16Mb of RAM. In order to do good modelling, huge amounts of RAM is required so that each cell that is simulated is as small as possible, thus giving higher precision. 16Mb RAM with a very puny processor, I have serious doubts.

    If you watched the video, it basically looks like the computer is just doing the mathematical calculation and then print out the results.

    My question – Is Limits to Growth is so accurate that using the most rudimentary computer systems in 1972/1973, they manage to pinpoint the exact year that collapse would happen – 2020 ??

    Co-incidence? luck? truly exceptional?

    Why is it none can do modelling so accurately after this one and only model that happened almost 50 years ago?

    • I agree with you. The base model in the initial Limits to Growth model in 1972 was pretty much “right on.”

      Trying to add levels of sophistication don’t work well at all, in part because the whole system is not well understood.

      • CTG says:

        Thanks Gail for your article. My main “concern” is that that group did a very “remarkable” job in pinpointing the collapse date to 2020 using something that is so rudimentary. If you watch the video, that mainframe computer is more like a big calculator.

        In 2000, Is it possible for some group of people to predict something using models that can pinpoint something precisely for something that may happen in 2020 or 2030?

        • Don Millman says:

          Economic forecasting models are mathematicaly complex or chaotic. That does not mean that the models are useless, but they are limited.

          • CTG says:

            I have engineering background. Any models that have errors are basically useless. Any decisions that are made from using these models are useful?

            Economics involved humans. Humans cannot be modeled easily.

            • Don Millman says:

              Good economic models are not easy to construct. Milton Friedman’s inflation model has stood the test of time; it is robust.

            • CTG says:

              Don, I am not sure what you mean by inflation model by Friedman. It seems that it just a theory and equations. Is a demand and supply curve is a model or just a theory? A model works if can correctly predict an outcome from various scenarios, not just one.

            • Don Millman says:

              Friedman’s model has proven accurate everywhere for the last three thousand years.
              The model is very useful.

            • postkey says:

              “Monetarist theory, which came to dominate economic thinking in the 1980s and the decades that followed, holds that rapid money supply growth is the cause of inflation.  The theory, however, fails an actual test of the available evidence.  In our review of 47 countries, generally from 1960 forward, we found that more often than not high inflation does not follow rapid money supply growth, and in contrast to this, high inflation has occurred frequently when it has not been preceded by rapid money supply growth. “

            • Don Millman says:

              Read Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz “A Monetary History of the United States.” For a brief introduction to Friedman’s thinking, see the textbook I wrote, “Economics; Making Good Choices.”
              Friedman and Stigler earned their Nobel Prizes.

            • postkey says:

              “Friedman’s model has proven accurate everywhere for the last three thousand”

              “The theory, however, fails an actual test of the available evidence. In our review of 47 countries, generally from 1960 forward, . . . ”
              Obviously not.

            • Don Millman says:

              Friedman’s analysis of inflation is valid for the past three thousand years of history in all countries. See my earlier comment for references.

            • postkey says:

              Sure. I’m going to spend hours reading the econometrically discredited “A Monetary History of the United States.”. NOT!

        • DJ says:

          I thought they pinpointed the limit to “sometime during the first half of the 21th century”? I think I’ve seen their Fortran code somewhere.

          • CTG says:

            It is actually 2020 if I recall correctly. If they are using FORTRAN, then it is not “modelling by simulation” but just solving equations. I have a serious problem of understanding how they can be so accurate when no others can replicate this kind of success

            • We seem to be running a little ahead of the model. Charles Hall and John Day put together a chart in modern graphics of their forecast. I added a line in 2019, showing where we seemed to be then, based on industrial output per capita seeming to turn down. I have also heard Dennis Meadows opine that we are running a little ahead of the forecast time.


              Edit: Maybe I should say that it is hard to tell where we are relative to the model, because there are so many different lines. Dennis Meadows says once we hit peak, the model cannot be relied upon. Peak industrial output per capita is pretty much peak oil and coal. After this happened, the economy can be expected to go down quickly, I would think. The model doesn’t have the feedback loops it needs to model this, however. The line I put in the chart showing 2019 is about where 2012 would be. So that comparison would say we are a bit behind (2019 vs 2012) where the model predicted.

        • Christopher says:

          I believe they must have had quite some luck in their models when predicting 2020 as the peak. Of course exponential growth tend to stabilize the date for when we will hit the wall. Doubling the resource base does not postpone the day of reckoning very much. The resource base per 1972 must have been a guess, this is an important assumption necessarry for the model. Without the participation of China and financial engineering we would have hit the wall already 10-20 years ago.

    • Thierry says:

      Collapse should have happened several years ago, sooner than expected. They prolonged the scam only with magic money and shale oil and other tricks, and here we are.

      • Well, yes, and also along the wayside on this route the “prematurely” tossed around precursory ruins have been established / sacrificed to some extent already, e.g. Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, ..

        One day it (the reaper) will show up at out door steps as well..

        But, lets be realistic as it still could be delayed somewhat more, perhaps ~5-15-25yrs depending on context and severity impact per given local and social status..

    • pogohere says:

      See Martin Armstrong’s AI work @

  11. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Germany aims to borrow about 100 billion euros ($120 billion) in additional funds next year — roughly a quarter more than its previous target…

    “Heavy government spending is set to continue as Europe’s largest economy grapples with the fallout from the crisis…”

  12. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The number of forcibly displaced people reaches another record high… covid-19 did not stop people in desperate circumstances from fleeing their homes in ever growing numbers.

    “…overall, there were 82.4m forcibly displaced people by the end of the year… It is the highest total to date—and the ninth year in a row that the figure has increased. It is almost inevitable that the number will soon exceed 100m.”

  13. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Any new hydroelectric dam runs the risk of taking away the water someone else was depending upon for irrigation…”

    “Egypt could lose as much as 72 percent of its farmland when the latest phase of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is completed, according to a new study cited in the London-based Al Quds al-Arabi.”

  14. Mike Roberts says:

    Thanks for this. I wish governments would read your blog. Perhaps we might then get sensible policies. Though, with politicians, I guess there is little likelihood of sensible policies on these matters.

    I’m just amazed at how high this house of cards can go.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Sensible policies?

      Like what?

      They’ve already bought us 13 extra years through various miracles….

      • Right! The peak oil people were worried about peak conventional oil about 2005. Production was slowing even before this. Oil prices were rising, after China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. It took a lot of miracles to keep the whole system operating.

        • Xabier says:

          They are supreme conjurers: and while watching we have had, most of us, very comfortable seats since 2008.

        • Mike Roberts says:

          No miracles were required. Everything that happened turned out to be perfectly in line with physical laws. You’ve pointed out many times some of the tricks used to mask dwindling resources and they have been employed to good effect (good in an economic sense).

  15. davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    “Strangely enough, in order for an economy to grow, essential items need to become an ever decreasing share of everyone’s budget, so that citizens have sufficient left-over income available for more optional items.” Thanks for that, Gail, that’s a great sentence. Inversely, the energy problem means that essentials will continue to be an increasing share of personal budgets. And roaring inflation is the sign that this is true.

    • Also, things disappearing from shelves is another sign. Airline flights no longer being available for one reason or another. Rental cars not available. Chlorine for water not available.

    • herepog2 says:

      The likelihood that “. . . essential items need to become an ever decreasing share of everyone’s budget, so that citizens have sufficient left-over income available for more optional items” is essentially nil, and that’s not just a random outcome from a merely irrational set of social and economic developments. The creation of wealth and its distribution is a critical issue that’s rarely addressed. Consider the implications of the following:

      There is More to BlackRock Than You Might Imagine

      F. William Engdahl


      A virtually unregulated investment firm today exercises more political and financial influence than the Federal Reserve and most governments on this planet. The firm, BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest asset manager, invests a staggering $9 trillion in client funds worldwide, a sum more than double the annual GDP of the Federal Republic of Germany. This colossus sits atop the pyramid of world corporate ownership, including in China most recently. Since 1988 the company has put itself in a position to de facto control the Federal Reserve, most Wall Street mega-banks, including Goldman Sachs, the Davos World Economic Forum Great Reset, the Biden Administration and, if left unchecked, the economic future of our world. BlackRock is the epitome of what Mussolini called Corporatism, where an unelected corporate elite dictates top down to the population.

      . . .

      There is a seamless interface that ties the UN Agenda 2030 with the Davos World Economic Forum Great Reset and the nascent economic policies of the Biden Administration. That interface is BlackRock.

      Team Biden and BlackRock

      By now it should be clear to anyone who bothers to look, that the person who claims to be US President, 78-year old Joe Biden, is not making any decisions. He even has difficulty reading a teleprompter or answering prepared questions from friendly media without confusing Syria and Libya or even whether he is President. He is being micromanaged by a group of handlers to maintain a scripted “image” of a President while policy is made behind the scenes by others. It eerily reminds of the 1979 Peter Sellers film character, Chauncey Gardiner, in Being There.

      What is less public are the key policy persons running economic policy for Biden Inc. They are simply said, BlackRock. Much as Goldman Sachs ran economic policy under Obama and also Trump, today BlackRock is filling that key role. The deal apparently was sealed in January, 2019 when Joe Biden, then-candidate and long-shot chance to defeat Trump, went to meet with Larry Fink in New York, who reportedly told “working class Joe,” that, “I’m here to help.”

      Now as President in one of his first appointees, Biden named Brian Deese to be the Director of the National Economic Council, the President’s main advisor for economic policy. One of the early Presidential Executive Orders dealt with economics and climate policy. That’s not surprising, as Deese came from Fink’s BlackRock where he was Global Head of Sustainable Investing. Before joining BlackRock, Deese held senior economic posts under Obama, including replacing John Podesta as Senior Adviser to the President where he worked alongside Valerie Jarrett. Under Obama, Deese played a key role in negotiating the Global Warming Paris Accords.

      In the key policy post as Deputy Treasury Secretary under Secretary Janet Yellen, we find Nigerian-born Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo. Adeyemo also comes from BlackRock where from 2017 to 2019 he was a senior adviser and Chief of Staff to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, after leaving the Obama Administration. His personal ties to Obama are strong, as Obama named him the first President of the Obama Foundation in 2019.

      And a third senior BlackRock person running economic policy in the Administration now is also unusual in several respects. Michael Pyle is the Senior Economic Adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris. He came to Washington from the position as the Global Chief Investment Strategist at BlackRock where he oversaw the strategy for investing some $9 trillion of funds. Before joining BlackRock at the highest level, he had also been in the Obama Administration as a senior adviser to the Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, and in 2015 became an adviser to the Hillary Clinton presidential bid.

      Larry Fink and WEF Great Reset

      In 2019 Larry Fink joined the Board of the Davos World Economic Forum, the Swiss-based organization that for some 40 years has advanced economic globalization. Fink, who is close to the WEF’s technocrat head, Klaus Schwab, of Great Reset notoriety, now stands positioned to use the huge weight of BlackRock to create what is potentially, if it doesn’t collapse before, the world’s largest Ponzi scam, ESG corporate investing. Fink with $9 trillion to leverage is pushing the greatest shift of capital in history into a scam known as ESG Investing. The UN “sustainable economy” agenda is being realized quietly by the very same global banks which have created the financial crises in 2008. This time they are preparing the Klaus Schwab WEF Great Reset by steering hundreds of billions and soon trillions in investment to their hand-picked “woke” companies, and away from the “not woke” such as oil and gas companies or coal. BlackRock since 2018 has been in the forefront to create a new investment infrastructure that picks “winners” or “losers” for investment according to how serious that company is about ESG—Environment, Social values and Governance.. . .

      BlackRock since 2018 has been in the forefront to create a new investment infrastructure that picks “winners” or “losers” for investment according to how serious that company is about ESG—Environment, Social values and Governance.

      For example a company gets positive ratings for the seriousness of its hiring gender diverse management and employees, or takes measures to eliminate their carbon “footprint” by making their energy sources green or sustainable to use the UN term. How corporations contribute to a global sustainable governance is the most vague of the ESG, and could include anything from corporate donations to Black Lives Matter to supporting UN agencies such as WHO. Oil companies like ExxonMobil or coal companies no matter how clear are doomed as Fink and friends now promote their financial Great Reset or Green New Deal. This is why he cut a deal with the Biden presidency in 2019.[emphasis added]

      Follow the money. And we can expect that the New York Times will cheer BlackRock on as it destroys the world financial structures. Since 2017 BlackRock has been the paper’s largest shareholder. Carlos Slim was second largest. Even Carl Icahn, a ruthless Wall Street asset stripper, once called BlackRock, “an extremely dangerous company… I used to say, you know, the mafia has a better code of ethics than you guys.”

      • I am afraid that F. William Engdahl has “hit the nail on the head.” This is the missing piece of the puzzle regarding what is going on. I know that someone else posted a link to some kind of analysis regarding which company owned which other company, a while back. BlackRock came out up on top of the ownership chain. It was sort of alarming.

        • Xabier says:

          And that is how it IS possible to arrive at globally co-ordinated and synchronised policies – such as the deliberate destruction of SME’s through lock-downs, favouring corporations, Amazon, etc, – directed from a level above all nation states.

          It also explains the drive to introduce universal ‘vaccine passports’, which are the building block for the ESG system of social credit and financial manipulation, and which make no medical sense.

          BlackRock can probably manipulate, buy or blackmail anyone,
          except Gail. Oh, and the former President of Tanzania.

          Myself, I’m waiting hopefully for their call. Maybe I can play them off against the Rothschilds……..

  16. MCW says:

    Fast Eddie, you do go overboard into frenetic detail at times which is disconcerting I find. But your recent analysis, a summary of your recent contributions and a kind of conclusion to Gail’s article, is both brilliant and powerful. As is Gail’s reply to you. And by the way, thank you for helping me a few years back by reminding me that the liberating joy of this discourse is the realisation that we can do nothing to fix the situation. My thought is, as Gail says at times, it’s best to concentrate on the people we know and love to give and receive love and friendship and goodwill. And do what is best with the lights we have.

    • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      do you share his view that all humans are vile creatures and that imminent extinction is the solution?

      • MCW says:

        At one level I agree with Fast Eddie and his negative opinion of humankind in relation to our ecosystems and perhaps to ourselves and others and other tribes and communities. At another level I disagree with him and so on as we peel the onion. Sometimes Fast Eddie realises this dialectic and synthesises it all by his care and loving kindness in ironic, clear-sighted, emphatic, cathartic, black comedy presentations as if a performance artist. Maybe a wee bit like Hambone Littletail in the Humpty Dumpty tribe language game.

        This whole blog is in someways an idiomatic Hegelian critical dialectic towards synthesis of various kinds. It is both compelling and fascinating. Even sometimes with some posts moving a wee bit towards Dante or the the Man of La Mancha.

        One comment recently suggested the reason we come back again and again to Gail’s professorial level papers is that she emphasises three points. Guess what they are!

        That’s true on one level I agree. But Gail represents and presents, speaks from an enormously powerful, considered, highly influential stand within the moral and dare I say religious conversation of history. She summarises it by talking of a self organising system and maybe at times an emergent system. I think of this Gail’s dreams would tell us more than her logical posts.

        Indeed sometimes I think she is maybe more than a great moral heroine in this language game. Maybe even a wee bit towards those great prophets of old in speaking her brilliant and powerful truths to us and to power. What she tells us of her life makes me think a we bit of the secular and non-secular saints of old. She is unrelentingly logical, and truthful to her lights, in her posts and especially in her papers. Maybe even a bit fearsome fearsome as were the prophets.?

        Yet sometimes how accommodating, accepting, and full of care for us and for the emerging self organising system of this blog. Maybe a wee bit like some of those great mother goddesses of myth. Or archetypical Sound of Music Mother Superiors?

        It always blows my mind when I think of Maria Magdalena creating, birthing resurrection Christianity by seeing a gardener at the tomb and realising who he is. It’s my understanding that a similar thing happened with the Buddha. And what about the story of the Chinese mother goddess a Chang’er? Etc

        Perhaps it’s time for us to synthesise the various opinions of this post blog, while keeping up our own arguments strenuously of course so it doesn’t become boring, and sometimes synthesise all this into our own resurrection of sorts in our lives and hearts, and in the people around us. Who is that gardener over there?

        • Xabier says:

          I look at the copy I made of Titian’s Mary Magdalene kneeling before Christ as the gardener – the ‘Noli Me Tangere’ – every morning when I wake – one of the most beautiful and moving paintings in the world.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          I wonder if I could get a gig at the Anti-Greta?

          I could use some air time to make my case why humans should be exterminated.. for the good of every other living thing on this planet

        • Thanks for your kind comment. I sometimes feel like I have been “called” to do this. I have had an amazingly long career, with a lot of coincidences putting me in the right place at the right time. I didn’t set out to do this; it all just sort of fell into place.

          There were even a few disturbing times, particularly when I went back to writing on Our Finite World, instead of the The Oil Drum. The folks there didn’t think I was telling the “right” story. After the split, the folks at TheOilDrum would copy the articles that they liked, and ignore the ones they didn’t. I didn’t realize until later that that approach was for the best. Others could more easily follow my writing when I was’t with a group of others with more traditional peak oil views. Of course, TheOilDrum went out of business, a while later. I learned a lot from the folks I met there, however.

          I get a lot of inspiration from the many commenters on my posts. I also have folks writing me e-mails, and commenting on Linked-In. I sometimes find ideas from sermons I hear at church. I have mentioned that I have a sister (Lois Tverberg) who writes religious books. My father was the son of a missionary to Madagascar, and grew up in Madagascar. Several of my cousins are pastors or religious teachers.

          I really don’t know how the situation we are going through now is going to turn out. But the fact that it seems like some outside force is paving the way for me to do what I am doing is one of the things that makes me believe that there is a Higher Power, somewhere, pulling the strings on what is happening.

          By the way, the Sound of Music is my favorite movie.

          • Murray D Millman says:

            I remember you well from The Oil Drum; I always liked your articles. And we should learn humility from the size of our error in calling 2005 as Peak Oil. Turns out Yergin and CERA were right.

          • Mrs S says:

            I can’t thank you enough for helping me to understand our predicament.

            This place reminds me of The restaurant at the end of the universe by Douglas Adams.

            Us select few are assembled to watch it all go boom.

            It’s been a pleasure and a privilege.

          • John R. says:

            Gail said: . . . But the fact that it seems like some outside force is paving the way for me to do what I am doing is one of the things that makes me believe that there is a Higher Power, somewhere, pulling the strings on what is happening.
            Why hasn’t the higher power helped out Dennis Meadows in a more viable way, especially since he has reached millions? His work concerning overpopulation is truly on the side of the angels.

            Dennis: “I spent 50 years trying to help people understand their realistic options and choosing a bit more wisely for the long term. I would say by and large I have failed. I don’t think the planet is going to evolve any differently from my having been around than it would have if I had not been conceived.”

            • Having children provides a great benefit to parents. In poor countries, children can help in the fields, from an early age. As the parents get older, the children provide a safety net in parents’ older years. If one parent dies, the other parent can often move in with the child and his family. Or perhaps both parents can move in. Some writers talk about intergenerational debt. Parents take care of children while they are young; in return, children are expected to take care of their parents when they are old.

              If there is a “strong” government that wants to get more women in the workforce and limit births, it can implement programs which will supposedly take care of older people in their later years. This takes away much of the supposed benefit of having children.

              Dennis Meadows’ belief that he could somehow change childbearing patterns, based on his model, was simply unrealistic. He needed strong governments around the world that could see a real threat from overpopulation. They would need to implement a one child policy, like China did in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In fact, it is possible that leaders in China did learn from what Dennis Meadows and the team said, and it may have influenced their thinking. Of course, any guarantee is only as good as a country’s ability to make their economy function long term, as resources deplete.

              It is possible that what Dennis Meadows said did influence China’s one-child policy, but they never mentioned this connection. Of course, China needed to greatly ramp up its use of coal to allow their economy to be rich enough to sort of provide retirement benefits.

              In a world with limits, it is hard to see how any country can provide retirement benefits, long term. With less energy, pretty much everyone will have to work indefinitely.

            • James K. says:

              Thanks for the link, John R. The universe isn’t manufacturing geniuses like Meadows and his now-deceased wife Donella anymore. And you can tell this man takes it personally and doesn’t see the world through charts and graphs only. He chose not to have kids since he knew intuitively and logically that humans were going to drive the earth into utter disaster.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Not sure why anyone would have kids… they start off badly and they turn into DelusiSTANIS who always want more….

            • Fast Eddy says:

              If Meadows had gotten his way … we’d have collapsed decades ago.

        • doomphd says:

          sorry, you’ll note that I’m not Gail. i think your post epitomizes the hubris that humans have, and that includes all of us. the FF made this “show” possible, pure and simple. now they’re going away, and we must cope with the outcomes.

          we’ve created a lot of art. you mention great plays, Xaiber mentions fine paintings. too bad if none are around to enjoy them in the future. i assure you one thing, Earth and nature will not care on wit on our passing.

          • perhaps the great WS summed it up himself, through the words of Macbeth:

            Life’s but a walking shadow; a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

          • Xabier says:

            And most of the ancient buildings and works of art we might admire today have survived only courtesy of the oil riches used to conserve and repair them.

            Much 20th century art was so badly made it self-destructs. Some might be thankful for that……

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I’m going to print this out and put it in a gold frame and present it to Madame Fast for our 9th anniversary! She will be so pleased.

      The cessation of bucket-listing is rather disappointing…

  17. Nate says:

    From Wall Street Journal tweet: U.S. Catholic bishops agreed to prepare a document that would lay out conditions under which politicians who support abortion rights, including President Biden, may be denied Communion.

    People still pretend to take this stuff seriously? I’m quite confident the children of evil, all politicians, won’t sweat it too much.

    • Cletus says:

      Nate, I’m with George Carlin:

      “I have as much authority as the Pope. I just don’t have as many people who believe it.”

  18. Bei Dawei says:

    So, are we still on for some sort of collapse this summer? Aspiring prophets, announce your predictions and place your bets.

    • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      no, this is Summer of Love 2.0, haven’t you heard? …………………………………………………………………. 2021 looks somewhat good for the Core, but 2022 not so much.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Can we hold off until mid-September? The snow on the ski hills is usually a bit slushy by then…

      • Bei Dawei says:

        Do you have a prediction for mid-September, then?

        I’ll make one: Zapad 2021 (the annual Russian military exercises, which this year will be held in the western region–zapad means “west”) will see Russia establish large, permanent military bases in Belarus, with an eye to (a) threatening the Baltics / securing the Kaliningrad exclave, (b) enabling Putin to annex Belarus whenever he wants, and (c) better positioning Russia for an eventual invasion of all of eastern Ukraine. If the USA is reeling from some sort of economic collapse, this could provide Russia the opportunity to go ahead with annexing these nearby territories.

        • postkey says:

          Look, look, over there it’s the ‘wicked’ Russians.
          Don’t look over there at the plutocrats and the M.I.C. there is nothing to see.

  19. Sheila chambers says:

    “Thus it is an entirely inadequate as a substitute narrative to orient societies to any solution to the real issue – the increasing systemic unprofitability.”

    Like so many people struggling with “green” energy, unprofitablitiy is the least of our delemas, the real trouble that virtually everyone ignores is HUMAN OVERPOPULATION!

    With almost 8 BILLION HUMANS on this planet & still GROWING by 80 MILLION each year, we soon will find ourselves unable to feed ourselves, keeping the lights on will be unimportant when your hungry.

    As Gail points out, we cannot operate our agricultural system on intermittent electricity, we MUST have OIL, COAL & NATURAL GAS to operate our fossil resource dependent food system.
    Another thing our OLIGARCH RULERS ignore is that most of us cannot afford to buy an EV or put solar panels on the LANDLORDS ROOF so when the state tries to FORCE us into buying an EV by banning ICE vehicles, billions will be left without transport, just think of what that will do to the economy & their precious PROFITS.

    I see a revolution coming & it won’t by be any “transition” to “green” energy.

    • el mar says:

      increasing net energy to go around for everybody and rising overpopulation are two sides of the same medal. It will be the same with the reverse development!

      Like shit and flies. The more shit, the more flies and the other way round.


      el mar

  20. Seneca's Cliff says:

    A good example of what happens when energy gets too expensive for the consumer has played out in a Chlorine shortage in the Pacific Northwest. Back in the 1960’s there were 5 plants producing various Chlorine products in Oregon and Washington. Over the years in search of profit these were all consolidated in one plant in Longview Washington. Chlorine production is very very energy intensive as the process uses electricity to split the Chlorine atom out of salt ( in the form of a brine). The single plant in Longview went off-line last week because the large on-site electrical transformer that feeds it totally failed. Large transformers like this are custom made and it will takes weeks ( or more) at best to get a replacement. So now all the water treatment and wastewater treatment plants in the Northwest are running low on chlorine with only a week or so in stock at most facilities. Without this to disinfect drinking water to remove bacteria, virus;s etc. Millions of customers will have to fight over bottled water or use boiled water. My wife is in this industry and the situation is much worse than the following article would have you believe. In the old days making chlorine was profitable and the product was inexpensive so lots could be stored, now it is costly unprofitable and no one wants to store it. A good example of Gail’s Point.

    • Wow! Thanks for the information. We never know how close to the edge we are skating.

      My impression is that there is quite a bit of the world where the water condition is “iffy.” People in China wanted to drink bottled water or boiled beverages.

      We have a whole-house filter for the water that comes into our house. The filter is supposed to last a year, but we find we need to change it every six months. It gets full of red clay and other material that is in the water supply.

      • Seneca’s Cliff says:

        A filter on the water coming in to your house is a great idea and will solve many problems with your water but it will not remove virus’s, bacteria, and must be very high tech( small particle size) to get out amoeba cysts like Giardia. Only chlorine or well designed UV systems will do that.

        • The popular Berkey filter systems (not whole-house systems, but designed for drinking water) claim to filter out 99.9999% of bacteria and viruses, and the filters apparently last for several years. (Disclaimer: I don’t profit from advertising these, but I have bought a system and am satisfied with it so far).

        • I know. We had a reverse osmosis filter on a separate faucet by the kitchen sink for a while, until I realized it would filter out too much. It would tend to take necessary minerals out as well. It would become too much like desalinated water, which a person cannot drink (without harmful results) without minerals being put back in.

          Our bodies need to adapt to having a flow of bacteria and viruses. I am basically not worried about this. It is the good ones that fight off the bad ones.

          We did not want to be taking showers in the water that contained as much chlorine as the piped water had in it. We weren’t aware of the other stuff that we coming through as well.

          • Conrad says:

            Gail wrote:  Our bodies need to adapt to having a flow of bacteria and viruses. I am basically not worried about this. It is the good ones that fight off the bad ones.
            Exactly. Even those with a minimal background in biology should understand this.

            You have mentioned, Gail, that you restrict your diet to healthy options and maintain a good weight.  I believe that is more important than all this filtering equipment. I have a few friends and a neighbor who rely on contraptions like that to presumably stay alive, while they continually overeat the wrong foods.

            For example, my neighbor had a double mastectomy a few years ago and weighed around 210 pounds at 5 feet 4 inches before surgery; now she is around 230 and can barely walk.  I do not understand people who have no self-respect or self-discipline, and, of course, presumably her doctors have never held her to account for her choices.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              On the + side… at that height and weight it would be really difficult to move her… low centre of gravity….

              If you can ‘enable’ her… (encourage more fast food and soft drinks)… and get her up over 300 lbs… then stuff her with steroids and HGH to increase her strength speed stamina… and top her out at 350lbs…

              She might have a shot at the nose tackle position for the New York Giants.

  21. Fast Eddy says:

    Speaking of Japan

    After announcing last month that Chinese families would now be permitted to have up to three children, Chinese authorities are now planning to scrap all restrictions on birth rates in the coming years, with the new policy expected to be implemented first in China’s most economically-troubled regions. According to WSJ, which broke the news in the US, senior CCP officials are discussing the possibility of doing away with these restrictions entirely by 2025, when the CCP’s current five-year economic plan is slated to conclude.

    • Bei Dawei says:

      Taiwan has never had any such restrictions, and we have the same demographic problems as Japan (which also never had any restrictions).

  22. Fast Eddy says:

    Excellent article…. I’d like to add the Conclusion (if I may…)

    We’ve hit a tipping point on economically viable energy sources as well as some other resources… that was triggered by a peak of shale in 2019…

    The Elders realized that we were ‘f789ed… and they were anticipating this …

    So many years ago they began working on a Contingency Plan…. that involved putting down 8B people before the Ripping Off of Faces Epoch began…

    Tony Fauci and Friends were asked to create a virus… and a ‘vaccine’ that would create a Marek’s-like outcome for humans…. that would kill both the unvaxxed and vaxxed…

    PR companies were tapped to frighten people into taking the Injection.

    The MSM was given marching orders as was social media — play ball…

    Leaders of all countries were brought to Davos and told what was coming down the pipe… and they agreed it was for the best…

    John Key opted out and decided he’d prefer ‘family time’ — which is code for ‘I’m going to spend the next few years (the final few years…) in strip clubs doing lines off of fake boobs in the VIP rooms’ … and he handed over to Pout-Face…. and said … you deal with this.

    And thus the Compassionate Extinction Plan was Hatched… and it flew the coop in early 2020…

    And soon the Humans will go Extinct — joining the thousands of other species we have driven to extinction by paving over the planet.

    And to boot — we have never been to the moon… Leo’s concrete eco resort 10cm above sea level is not underwater… the CIA coordinated 911 to justify invading the ME to ensure the oil flowed…

    And last but not least… a small f789ing group of very smart men … run the world …. just like the King/Queen ran half the world and lorded over the Indians using a handful of men…

    British rule from the time after the mutiny is often called the Raj. During this period a tiny number of British officials and troops (about 20,000 in all) ruled over 300 million Indians. This was often seen as evidence that most Indians accepted and even approved of British rule. There is no doubt that Britain could not have controlled India without the co-operation of Indian princes and local leaders, as well as huge numbers of Indian troops, police officers, civil servants etc.

    The End.

    Well not yet…. we have to wait for Devil Covid…. carry on.

    • You have some worthwhile insights. We can’t know if they are all 100% right, but they definitely seem to leaning in the right direction.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        I can’t the credit for The Conclusion … it’s really Montagnier, Bossche, Bridle, Knut and a few others who are guiding me in that direction….

        I am mind melding that with a 1000 horsepower IQ to reach that conclusion

      • Mike Roberts says:

        Can you say which ones are worthwhile?

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Hey Mike – you still have not responded to my question … what are we looking at here?

          Are you still thinking about it Mike? You’ve had weeks now…. surely you’ve looked at it by now…

          Come on Mike… give us a brilliant insight… I know you have it in you 🙂

          • Very Far Frank says:

            There’s a lot of storytelling going on there, and nothing compelling to suggest they hadn’t landed on the Moon.

            All in all, I’d give it a solid 3/10 for likelihood to change minds.

            • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

              thanks Frank.

            • three repeats of your name in 6 lines Mike.

              the hallmark of the bar-philosopher—but beware of youtube links—conspiratorial quicksand.–Avoid at all costs.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Norm why do you persist on banging on with this peak oil conspiracy BS…

              Everyone knows it’s a conspiracy theory

              ‎Conspiracy Theories: Peak Oil Pt. 1 on Apple Podcasts


            • Like so many others, I thought we would hit peak oil in the term of quantity available. (and prices would rise accordingly) I was not alone in that thinking.

              As a result of picking up info on OFW a few years ago, (had you done less bar-room ranting) you might have noticed that I came to realise that the problem was going to be peak affordability. And have said so on numerous occasions.

              Both scenarios leave us in the situation of having not enough oil to sustain our way of life, and no viable alternative.
              Leaving the end result a foregone conclusion, having arrived there by different routes.

              Another recent lesson from OFW, has been to be very wary of loonytoon videos of people with obvious mental instabilities, posing and circulated as purveyors of ‘truth’ on whatever subject is under discussion.
              I now do not open youtubes from that source, refusing to provide clickbait stimulus to issue more of the same nonsenses

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Exhibit A – a _______________.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Now someone who was not a ______________… might watch that … and want to watch the rest?

        • Mike Roberts says:

          Hmm, no reply. One might think that there were no useful insights there. If there were, wouldn’t it be helpful to let everyone else, including the author, know what those insights are?

    • Bei Dawei says:

      If John Key thought the world was coming to an end, then why was he so interested in changing the flag of New Zealand?

    • Did The Elders plan to commit suicide?

      Or do they have an extra special elite vaccine?

    • postkey says:

      “Tony Fauci and Friends were asked to create a virus…”

      Not a very efficient {short term?} one?

      ” . . . my
      49:09 understanding
      49:10 is that uh the uh the mortality
      49:13 uh is uh right around 100 [%] for the nipah
      49:16 virus
      49:17 uh peter dayzak and and his group at
      49:20 equal health
      49:21 is involved in experimentation with the
      49:23 nipah virus . . . “

  23. Thanks, Gail, for your thought-provoking post.

    The climate change problem is also a resource depletion problem. What is depleting is the absorption capacity of the atmosphere for CO2, the waste product from burning fossil fuels. The magnitude of this depletion problem depends on the temperature increase governments are (arbitrarily) willing to accept whereby we really don’t know at which level the equilibrium temperature will stabilize even if we reduced burning all fossil fuels (so-called net zero targets by 2050)

    James Hansen’s latest temperature graph

    is in this PDF file:

    In super El Nino years global surface temperature increases are already 1.3 degrees C.

    Hansen responded to the Paris Agreement:

    Paris 2015: Two degrees warming a ‘prescription for disaster’ says top climate scientist James Hansen
    The paleo-climate record shows sea-levels were six to eight metres higher than current levels when global temperatures were less than two degrees warmer than they are now, Professor James Hansen, formerly head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and now at Columbia University in New York, said.

    In Australia, a 15 year long climate change and energy debating club competition has resulted in delays of investments in the energy sector. Power supplies are now in danger due to the technical problems in aging coal plants:

    NSW power spot price spikes May 2021 become regular (part 1)

    NSW power spot price spikes May 2021 become regular (part 2)

    Extreme weather events like recent flooding in the state of Victoria have reduced coal supplies for a power plant

    State of Energy Emergency in Victoria

    So coal is not really cheap. There is actually no such thing as cheap, reliable and sustainable energy. We are forced to power down. Remember Richard Heinberg?

    • I don’t think anyone will fix our electricity problems with intermittent wind and solar. The real cost is simply too high. If you are going to use it, you need a utility pricing structure, to get enough funds from citizens. They will not be happy with perpetually high prices. Businesses are likely to fail as a result.

      I’m not convinced that moving to wind and solar can do anything useful to fix our problems. They sound like a good idea, but they don’t work in practice.

      • Tim M. says:

        Indeed Gail. Believing wind and solar will rescue us is like saying chicken wire will keep mosquitoes out of your house.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        I am wondering what is happening here…

        How many articles are on OFW explaining how transitioning to renewable energy/EVs is not possible?

        How many thousands of comments have been made explaining how renewable energy was never meant to be anything but a prop to convince the Goy that there was life after oil?

        Yet still… people persist in insisting that we are on our way.

        Take a look around you dumm asses! We are burning 6 barrels for everyone one we find

        China is building massive numbers of new coal plants

        Does it look like we are anywhere near some sort of transition?

        We are staring down the end of the barrel. And not an oil barrel.

        This is what the end game looks like….

        Billions of befuddled MOREons begging for lockdowns and Injections… queuing up to Inject their children…

        And then … nothing.

    • Fillmore East says:

      Richard Heinberg? This article touches on the difficult steps Heinberg suggests we need to take as a planet to avert collapse and how this will require a societal change within the narrow parameters of what is politically acceptable to achieve a managed economic contraction. With this in mind, it’s not a stretch to see how the central planners exploited the Covid-19 response to realize the shared vision of Climate Scientists, the World Economic Forum, Strategic Philanthropists and the UN’s Agenda 21/30 Sustainable Development Goals.

    • Javier says:

      Matt you get oil right but you get climate wrong. You know how to do numbers in Excel, so go to
      Column 1 is the date and column 2 is the global HadCRUT4 temperature data.
      (1) Create a proper date column in Excel and copy column 2.
      (2) In a third column subtract from each temperature data the one from the month before so you have a monthly ΔT (change in temperature or velocity of warming).
      (3) In a fourth column calculate a 13-month centered moving average so you remove seasonality.
      (4) Since the data is very noisy in a fifth column calculate a 15-year (181 month) centered moving average. 15 year is a quarter of the 60-year multidecadal oscillation, so it reveals the natural variability very well.

      Now plot the data from 1900 since prior to that it can’t be trusted much. Two important conclusions can be drawn:

      1. A great part, probably more than half, of the measured warming since the mid-70s is NATURAL.

      2. Since the mid-90s the velocity of warming has been DECREASING. That’s why there was a pause between 2002-2013, and that’s why there has been net cooling since February 2016.

      The current climate paradigm cannot explain how the warming could slow down during the 21st century while emissions and atmospheric CO2 levels have increased so much.

      Most people think there’s plenty of oil for our needs and that is the official position. Most people think there is a climate crisis and that is the official position. BOTH are WRONG. none of those positions resists a careful examination of the data. Curiously the few people that reject the official position only reject one of them and either believe in the climate crisis and peak oil or don’t believe in either of them.

      • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        thanks Javier.

      • Tim Groves says:

        Javier? Are you THÉ Javier? Of WUWT and Climate Etc. fame?

        I’m an admirer of your magnificent efforts over the years to explain climate phenomena and I’ve learned a lot from reading your work.

        There is a huge problem in trying to get people to separate the wheat from the chaff on this subject in that most of the believers in what James Hansen preaches (and he does “preach”) are scientific illiterates who will not learn the basics, will not examine the data and would not understand it if they did.

        I sincerely appreciate true scientific experts who take pains to try to enlighten, educate and edify the laity. But at the same time, we should bear in mind the words attributed to Leonardo da Vinci—”There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see.” I think you are in the first class, as is Gail obviously, and I’m in the second, but the majority of people, who I affectionately regard as “normies” are firmly in the third class.

        • rather like finding yourself at a convention of southern baptists

          4999 raving lunatics, screaming that the world was created in 4004 bc, in 6 days (which 46% of Americans do believe apparently)

          then one normie quietly points out that it wasn’t.

          SB’s reply:—”but you’re in the minority—4999 people here say you are wrong

          therefore you must be wrong, and we can prove you are wrong”.

          Meanwhile I read the sanity Claus again—nobody don’t believe in Sanity Claus no more.

      • Mike Roberts says:

        No need for all that effort. Just go to a calculator that does this for you:

        Mind you, I don’t know how you came to those conclusions for those data (which are from a single data set, not an amalgam).

        • Javier says:

          Yes, there is need for all that effort, because the trend calculator you link only shows the temperature change, not the change in temperature change (first derivative). In particle physics the first derivative of the position gives you the velocity, and the second derivative gives you the acceleration. Global warming is DECELERATING, not accelerating, and to see that you need to calculate how the speed of warming is changing. I SHOW HOW in a way anybody can do it.

          This is the best kept secret in climatology. Warming continues but it is slowing down. Since 2002 the only warming years were 2014-2016. The data supports it and shows that the slowing in warming should continue at least until 2030 since it is part of a 60-year natural oscillation. That oscillation has been known since 1994.

          By the way, Skeptical Science manipulates the data. It doesn’t use the official HadCRUT4 data I linked, but a HadCRUT4krig v2. By kriging the data they alter the result.

          • Mike Roberts says:

            All data series have their faults. Of relevance to this discussion, the following posts by Tamino are interesting:

            Acceleration is seen in several data sets” but not in all. With natural factors not adjusted out, all the common data sets (even UAH) show acceleration of varying amounts but, with natural factors taken out, two (incl. UAH) show a slight slowing and the others show a slight acceleration.

            A graphic demonstration of how recent warming cannot be described as “natural”.

            Seems to me that the trend upwards continues but the evidence for acceleration is not yet strong enough to declare it to be happening. Sadly, the warming doesn’t need to accelerate for it to have a severe impact on our planet.

    • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      “There is actually no such thing as cheap, reliable and sustainable energy. We are forced to power down.” No, we are not forced. We can consume as much as possible. Long live bAU, keep burning that awesome FF, the benefits are great. I love electricity and oil.

  24. Fast Eddy says:

    Latest CDC VAERS Data for 12- to 17-Year-Olds Include 7 Deaths, 271 Serious Adverse Events Following COVID Vaccines

    • Rodster says:

      This is a great response from American football player Cole Beasley who said he would rather retire than be forced to take the vaccine i.e. toxic chemical cocktail. I am now his biggest fan. We need more to stand up against the Covid stoo-pidity.

      “I don’t have a problem with anybody getting the vaccine,” Beasley wrote previously, in May. “That is your choice. My problem is everyone is ridiculing and bullying people … into getting one or thinking the same way about it. It’s becoming that way with any issue. This is not OK.”

      • Fast Eddy says:

        A pro athlete will not die of covid…

        Obvious solution is to strike…

        Perhaps most of the players do think they are at risk of dying of covid so happy to be injected?

  25. Mirror on the wall says:

    It is not immediately clear why some people might think that if it is unprofitable to invest in the production of oil at a certain price for energy then it is profitable to invest in the production of ‘green’ energy at that same (or greater) price (considered in abstraction from the greater inefficiency of ‘green’ energy production, the lack of time to make a ‘transition’, and other issues). Either energy is affordable to the market at that price or it is not – and that is likely to be the ‘snag’ once trillions have been ‘invested’ in ‘green’ energy.

    IEA pretending that ‘global warming’ is a substitutable narrative for that of unprofitable fossil fuel production completely ignores the central problem of an energy production that is unaffordable to customers and therefore unprofitable – be it fossil or ‘green’. Thus it is an entirely inadequate as a substitute narrative to orient societies to any solution to the real issue – the increasing systemic unprofitability.

    Possibly IEA is aware of that, and they only expect their present narrative to keep industrial civilisation going for a little bit longer. Presumably IC would collapse pretty much immediately if IEA was honest about the situation – markets, economies and societies would collapse. Maybe IEA is consciously playing ‘make believe’ with the world, even with some of the states who may not be aware of the situation – a ‘good night story’ to keep sleep sound and panic away for a bit longer.

    • You may be right. The IEA has sort of painted itself into a box with its current narrative. It can’t leave it, no matter how ridiculous it may seem, because it would panic the markets. No one can admit that fossil fuels might be failing because we can’t keep the price high enough.

      • Mirror on the wall says:

        The ‘green transition’ – industrial civilisation ends in a massive collective ‘virtue-signal’ – who woulda guessed? Humans gonna do what human gonna do.

        It is sort of the societal equivalent of a moralistic ‘final confession’, the ‘last rites’, the final affirmation of one’s own ‘goodness’ – or the ‘act of faith’, depending on denomination. The ‘green transition’ fits both ‘mainstream’ ritual paradigms.

        We approach civilizational collapse as we approach our own personal ‘transition’? There seems to be an operative ‘pattern’ there.

    • Sheila chambers says:

      “Thus it is an entirely inadequate as a substitute narrative to orient societies to any solution to the real issue – the increasing systemic unprofitability.”

      Like so many people struggling with “green” energy, unprofitablitiy is the least of our delemas, the real trouble that virtually everyone ignores is HUMAN OVERPOPULATION!

      With almost 8 BILLION HUMANS on this planet & still GROWING by 80 MILLION each year, we soon will find ourselves unable to feed ourselves, keeping the lights on will be unimportant when your hungry.

      As Gail points out, we cannot operate our agricultural system on intermittent electricity, we MUST have OIL, COAL & NATURAL GAS to operate our fossil resource dependent food system.
      Another thing our OLIGARCH RULERS ignore is that most of us cannot afford to buy an EV or put solar panels on the LANDLORDS ROOF so when the state tries to FORCE us into buying an EV by banning ICE vehicles, billions will be left without transport, just think of what that will do to the economy & their precious PROFITS.

      I see a revolution coming & it won’t by be any “transition” to “green” energy.

      • Mirror on the wall says:

        Industrial civilisation seems to be headed for collapse anyway, on energetic grounds, and in that sense it is a ‘problem’ that will ‘solve’ itself. So, personally I do not really worry about it too much. Whatever is going to happen, is going to happen, entirely independent of my personal will, so I do not really ‘commit’ my will to ‘dispositions’ about it. I suppose that I have a sort of ‘detachment’ in acceptance of it.

        Human societies will certainly be very different after the collapse of industrial civilisation – a lot harder, for one, though life will likely still be rewarding in its own ways. Humans are very resilient. I am ‘happy’ to live in the present reality that I do, and to let other realities unfold for other people in due time. We do not generally really get to choose what social reality we live in, or to choose them for other people.

        Revolutions do happen, but historically they tend to happen as society ‘develops’, and now it is just collapsing. It is going to be more a matter of, whoever survives ‘picking up the pieces’ as best as they can, and carrying on. Civilisations rise and fall, and new ones of sorts arise in their place. It is just how history ‘works’ in the long run.

        Life never really ‘works out for the best’ in the end – it always ends in personal suffering and death, and civilisations always fall in the end – but that is how it is ‘supposed’ to be. Human life is not ‘rational’, it is not ‘planned’, and it never ‘works out for the best’ in the end. It just ‘is what it is’. One generation gets to have a go, and to make the ‘most’ of it, and then another one does. And human life goes on, regardless.

        • Mirror on the wall says:

          Our ‘consolation’ is that other generations will continue after us, human life will go on when we are gone. And whatever ‘ills’ there may be in the world, there will always be some ‘goods’. In that sense, it always ‘works out for the best’ in the end. And that is OK – it how it is ‘supposed’ to be, the endless cycle of life, with all of its struggles, travails and triumphs. I ‘accept’ it for what it is, and it does not ‘bother’ me. Without the cycle of life, there would be no life. So, it is ‘swings and roundabouts’. I affirm it.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Sheila… you need to chill out…. the Elders have a plan….

        And this plan (the CEP) will be a panacea for everything that ails the planet!!!!

      • Tim Groves says:

        Amazing video! This will cheer you up!

        In The Year 2525 illustrated with scenes from Metropolis.

        • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

          cool. In the year 2525, we will have been dead for about 500 years. In the year 10,000 I doubt that anyone will still have an accurate count of years, but I bet humans will still be digging in the dirt with sticks.Woooo, I’m cheered up already! In the year 2021, it’s still bAU.

          • Mirror on the wall says:

            Facts are facts, whatever they may eventually be, but our feelings about them are our own. There is no ‘one, right’ way of feeling about things. ‘Reality’ and ones ‘experience’ of it are not identical. The maladjusted to life are always free to choose their own future. Presumably it is a part of how adaptation and evolution work.

    • I thought that your second item,

      “Twitter censors Martin Kulldorff (Prof Harvard Med. School) for Saying No Need to Vaccinate Everyone” was good

      He was one of the doctors doing research on the subject, and upon whose expertise the CDC was relying. This situation is just crazy.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Yes that is the best of the lot….

        Hey DuncNorm… why do you think Twitter is stopping one of the world’s most esteemed virologists from stating that only old goats who are half dead already (like you guys) should be injected… and healthy people (particularly children) should not be?

        And who told Twitter to do that?

        • Xabier says:

          And the vicious persecution, libel and censorship of Dr Byram Bridle over the last few weeks……

          ‘ Those who speak the Truth will find a thousand angry voices against them’.

          • Mrs S says:

            Yes. I sent him a supportive email.

            He was so shocked and unprepared for the onslaught. He thought he was doing his job by telling the truth. But within 24 hours a website denouncing him sprang up.

            He said one of the things that has kept him going has been supportive messages.

  26. Bella888 says:

    Gail wrote:  . . .  population keeps increasing. The usual outcome when population is too high for resources is “overshoot and collapse.” But this is not a topic that the politicians or central bankers or oligarchs who attend the World Economic Forum dare to talk about.

    Instead, world leaders find a different problem, namely climate change, to emphasize above other problems . . .

    Precisely, but I would add the generic doomer to the list of reluctant communicators concerning overpopulation also.

    This comment from Jack S. a few days ago on this site illustrates the reluctance to take overpopulation seriously by the majority of so-called aware humans:

    “Future or climate killer?

    A comment from Mike H. on YT is more apropos to the current situation:  “It is obviously a concern that climate change predictions overshadow uncontrolled population growth’s contribution to overshoot (& famine) & the crashing of Earth’s biodiversity, both of which are probably more “immediate killers” of huge swathes of humanity . . . “

  27. Ed says:

    On the subject of modelling. We can make a model that shows true costs we just choose not to. Or rather the funding agencies choose not to.

    Any one out there who wants to make an open source model I would love to contribute.

    • When everything is interconnected, it really is difficult to figure out true costs. This is the problem the energy modelers got into. Also, if everyone is convinced that high cost is OK, even doing modeling may not help.

      • Hideaway says:

        This is the crux of the matter, the interconnected system where working out ‘costs’ of one part is so often under represented.

        Everywhere future costs are mentioned it is in dollar terms, assuming current trends continue into the future.

        For example batteries or solar or wind are all assumed to be cheaper in the future in dollar terms, despite them all requiring a greater energy input as the minerals mined for their construction have lower grades.

        Everything in the future that requires a lot of mining (including fertilizers), will require MORE energy to produce, because of lower grade ores.

        The only way future ‘products’ can become cheaper in dollar terms is if energy becomes cheaper. With more expensive energy, all goods must become more expensive in dollar terms.

        This is where economists are completely wrong, as all businesses use a discounted cashflow model, for planning purposes, assuming future dollars, that represent future energy claims, are worth less than current dollars, when the opposite is true.

        Current dollars in regards to energy products (and therefore all products) are relatively cheap compared to future dollars in terms of the energy embedded.

        All modelling assumes the dollars are the important aspect of the equation whereas it is the energy input available that is important.

  28. Bei Dawei says:

    OT and repeat post, but…any Redditors out there want to help me pwn the Peace Corps? The “Peace Corps subreddit is having a contest to decide which of five answers to “Should I join the Peace Corps?” to use as a kind of FAQ. Mine is the critical one! You can vote by “liking” the post (or those of my rivals, if you prefer).

    Thanks, and tell all your anti-imperialist friends. (I will also accept “likes” from conspiracy boards, troll farms, etc. (I am far behind in the voting.)

    What’s the prize, you ask? Other than shaming the Peace Corps, somebody has promised to donate their artwork to the winner. So there’s that.

  29. Mott Greene says:

    Maybe I missed something in the comment thread but I don’t see any reference to a historically common (temporary) solution to critical shortages – emergency “nationalization” of production ( and rationing) Then EROI calculations go out the window (temporarily) and production (of existing stocks) is ramped to meet demand, The managerial apparatus is certainly available to do this even more efficiently than it was done 80 yrs ago, and it worked then for a number of years quite well. It isn’t a solution but it is one of the more obvious stopgaps for states sovereign in their currencies.

    • The problem I see with this approach is the fact that oil extraction, and fossil fuel extraction in general, is a field that requires a lot of specialized expertise. Government officials cannot really run oil companies themselves.

      The reason why so many oil exporting companies have government-owned companies has been so that the governments can skim as much money off of the top as possible, when the companies are profitable.

      If the energy companies are not profitable, there is a significant chance that pretty much no company is profitable. The only exception may be a few “vulture” companies, such as Amazon and Tesla, making money either from government subsidies (Tesla), or from unfair competition that will kill local businesses. Without adequate tax dollars based on profitable companies and workers making reasonable wages, governments will have difficulty subsidizing the failing companies, except perhaps with more and more funny money, created by Central Banks.

      • Xabier says:

        A combination of ‘funny money’, the rationing of both essentials and non-essentials, the merger of state, finance,military and corporate entities, a digitally-enabled surveillance state and, of course, a covert aggressive population reduction programme, appears to be what is planned, and is indeed underway as we write.

        A last, deluded, attempt to maintain a highly complex structure – in a modified form – which has no hope of success beyond the short-term, given the fundamentals of resource and energy deterioration.

        • Exactly, moreover that recent “presidential” summit hinted carving up the Arctic for extended shelf zones (natgas and oil) as well as routes – passage..

          Apart from ongoing and strengthening second – third world triage, for the moment a lot of living standard still could be tossed under the proverbial bus (now incl. middle classes of semi/core countries) so “the system” can operate decade or two more although under profoundly direct tyranny. The know-how on controlling the human farm is vast and long lasting, immediate universal collapse could be arguably getting closer but not imminent.

          PS funnily enough both entourages were flown in their respective versions of big jets, had comparable armored motorcades, yet somehow the (.ru) version of everything was always a bit smaller/compact, sipping less fuel.. fewer (and younger) obese security detail agents, etc, perhaps such displayed diverse “footprint on the scene” is also telling us something about the near/midterm future..

  30. Lorraine H Sherman says:

    It’s back to the basics: food, water, shelter, security. We can soften the landing if we ‘collapse’ now and avoid the rush. Every able body grows food, must have access to clean drinking water, and prepare underground, cob, or passive solar shelter – all three provide a stable indoor temp in any outside weather condition. Security will be in numbers: Minimum 15 reliable people needed to secure a defendable location. Go from there…..

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Fast Eddy Challenge?

      Nah… been putting this out there for years… nobody will walk that walk…

      Better to keep it all theoretical… in that dream world there are no bad guys eating your children and raping your women… and the trees magically fall down and split into fire box sized pieces and pile themselves next to your house.

      Of course everyone needs to grasp at a branch of hope — regardless of how thin… for some it’s Elon’s Mars colony… for others it’s solar panels and EVs… and for many it’s the Prepper Paradise…. but for most it’s the man in the sky promising an afterlife…

      Who am I to snap that branch….

    • It seems like you need a lot of funding to pull off this plan. You also need tools and a fair amount of specialized knowledge. It certainly won’t work in some areas, where food growing and water availability is unlikely. Even in areas where it might work, besides security, people really need a food reserve, if harvest are bad.

      I would add that people will need a way to cook food. They will also need shelter from the elements. If the area is cold, they will need heat in winter. Clothes would be somewhat helpful too. And tools would be helpful as well. Security may require more than wishful thinking as well.

      • Xabier says:

        Le’s suppose a viable community or group of settlements is established.

        That region will certainly attract other people wishing to exploit it, and to enslave or exterminate them: and thus the cycle of history and human crime begins……

        • Isn’t it funny how it works?

          A feudal commissions “best design” fortified castle up in the mountains. It really feels secure and invincible, autarky in food and water in months, for decades, perhaps few centuries works swell. But eventually one sad day few guys with new (cheaper) alloy gunpowder version of cannon brought there on single lame mule arrive in the area and it’s suddenly all over..

          A pharaoh commissions pyramid construction project lasting for decades consisting of carving and moving millions of large stone blocks, the parts and tools for manuf sourced from all over the ME (metals, hard woods, fine decor materials.. ) thousands at work.. But one day a bunch of few unwashed pillages the grave anyway.

          A prepper (village) believes he (they) could outlast freshly discharged mil-police malcontents who are looking for bolt holes aka setting up dominion to exploit in times of collapse..

          The never ending cycle of folly and futility..

          • Xabier says:

            One of my favourite examples is the ‘Old man of the Mountains’, leader of the Assassins.

            He defied everyone for years: then the Mongols turned up and his castles fell as if made of paper.

            Or Richard Lionheart’s beautiful Chateau Gaillard, a masterpiece of design, taken in a moment….

            Extreme isolation can be very useful, all the same.

            When Tielhard de Chardin was on an expedition in China, 1930’s I think, a villager said:

            ‘Of course, you’re not the first foreigner to come here’.

            Turned out that the last visitor, recalled as if yesterday, was in the 13th century, a fair definition of ‘back-end of Nowhere’…..

  31. Quote: ….We need to be looking at the extremely low energy cost structure of the 1950s and 1960s as a model, not some far higher cost structure…….

    the 50s and 60s were the time of the ‘American Dream’. Much the same in Europe.

    It was the time when our lives were cushioned by a neat equation:

    Energy availability exceeded requirements.

    That was why filling stations gave gifts as an inducement to buy their petrol. Imagine!!

    Ignoring all the word weaving around it, that was the sum of the ‘low cost energy structure’ of that time.

    That cushion of our lives has been removed, because the equation has now been reversed:

    Energy requirements now exceed availability.

    Very simple to understand. Difficult, often impossible to accept.

    Unfortunately the vast majority of energy consumers do not accept it, and ‘demand’ a return to that era, and ‘demand’ that technologies are developed to deliver it.

    Politicians comply with voters demands. They have to, or lose their jobs.

    There is only one way they can sustain the illusion of ‘cheap living’—by using the tried and trusted method that has always been used:


    And there is only one place money can be borrowed from: Our future, or more specifically, our grandchildren’s future.
    How so?
    Because debt is a call on future energy production. Our grandchildren will have to repay our (legacy) debts out of the (future) surpluses they produce.

    Without surplus energy, there will be no surplus of anything else.

    And as twin great grandchildren showed up 2 days ago, I feel it even more.
    No wonder the world is creaking. 16 living descendants. All my fault.


    • Ed says:

      Norman, congratulations! With eight billion co-responsible parties don’t take a disproportionate part of the fault.

    • You are right. Politicians need to promise that the future can only get better and better, even though it cannot be.

      By the way, I am helping bring the average number of descendants down. While I have three children, I have no grandchildren. Two children likely will never marry and never have children. The other one may eventually have one child, but doesn’t have any yet.

      • Don Millman says:

        I have four children and five grandchildren. All are doing well and prospering.

        • John R. says:

          I have zero children because of my wife’s knowledge and empathy during the ’70s when I met her. I hadn’t given the overpopulation issue much thought, but when she introduced me to the work of Ehrlich and the Meadowses, I saw the light. Really, there’s nothing like getting an education in subjects that matter.

          Our niece is having a celebratory party in honor of her husband’s vasectomy (no kids, in their 30s) and their two cats’ recent neutering. Awake and aware . . .

          • Don Millman says:

            Population is stabilizing. Ehrlich was wrong.

            • Bella888 says:

              Don Millman said: Population is stabilizing. Ehrlich was wrong.

              That’s some deep analysis there. However, you are incorrect. The world population is not declining, or stabilizing as you put it; it’s only the rate of growth that has declined.

              Population in the world is currently (2020) growing at a rate of around 1.05% per year (down from 1.08% in 2019, 1.10% in 2018, and 1.12% in 2017). The current average population increase is estimated at 82 million people per year.

              Like John R., I’m child-free by choice and have been married for almost 38 years. And, of course, my cats have been neutered too. Compassion is grand.

            • nikoB says:

              80 million extra a year. Yeah super stable.

            • Don Millman says:

              Look at the trend. Incipient decline in all prosperous countries. India now exports food.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              You’d think people would know by now how to type in ‘global population increase 2020’ into Google before they open their vapid holes…

              No surprise though — most people still think we’ve been to the moon, that vaccines about saving us from a virus, that the US govt was not behind 911… did I miss anything?

              Most goy are just plain dummm… even most of the smart ones.

            • Don Millman says:

              I agree.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Not for long though Don … not for long.

          • Bella888 says:

            Fast Eddy said: You’d think people would know by now how to type in ‘global population increase 2020’ into Google before they open their vapid holes…
            I like your style, Eddy! Luckily, there are a few here who can point out reality to the “dummm” smart ones.

  32. Minority Of One says:

    Talking of hydro-electric, here is the latest drought monitor map for the USA. It ain’t good, not for the SW USA and North Dakota anyway:

    U.S. Drought Monitor, June 15 2021

  33. Jeff Hubbs says:

    Gail, this is one of your best posts for laying out the playing field as we’re able to discern it.

    My schtick all the way back to when I first started transitioning from IT into energy systems and climate change work c. 2011 is that given our temporal pattern of energy use all the way up to annual scale, increasing reliance on intermittent renewables like wind and solar will hit a wall unless it is coupled to absolutely stupendous amounts of energy storage and while our civilization has been and is now responding to storage demand with electrochemical batteries, I am not satisfied with the assumption that we can – or at least should – pursue that to the ultimate extent necessary to the exclusion of other technologies. We need to be clearheaded now and going forward and decide how we should best proceed. Much as civilization did not care about the pollution and climate change fossil fuel combustion would drive, it is spring-loaded to not care about the outcome of any energy systems transition steps, especially whenever those steps are pursued for profit. I hope my eventual contributions to this field help civilization to care.

    • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      I think most persons are clearheaded enough that they want to pursue as much economic benefit as they can get, and the sooner the better. Most all of us discount the future, so any externalities that might be damaging in say the 2030s are inconsequential to our daily lives now. Not everyone, but most everyone. We care about 2021. That is human nature remaining in IC from the days of our uncivilized ancestors. Anyone can try to change human nature, but failure is the only option.

  34. Bella888 says:

    Gail wrote: . . . population keeps increasing. The usual outcome when population is too high for resources is “overshoot and collapse.” But this is not a topic that the politicians or central bankers or oligarchs who attend the World Economic Forum dare to talk about.

    Instead, world leaders find a different problem, namely climate change, to emphasize above other problems . . .

    Precisely, but I would add the generic doomer to the list of reluctant communicators concerning overpopulation also.

    This comment from Jack S. a few days ago on this site illustrates this avoidance of the population issue quite nicely:

    “Future or climate killer?”

    A comment from Mike H. on YT is more apropos to the current situation: “It is obviously a concern that climate change predictions overshadow uncontrolled population growth’s contribution to overshoot (& famine) & the crashing of Earth’s biodiversity, both of which are probably more “immediate killers” of huge swathes of humanity . . . “

    • A big issue is the fact that most of the population growth recently is on the other side of the world. It takes place in Africa and in some Moslem countries. Israel and Palestine both have high rates of population growth, too, compounding their problems.

      It is hard to tell people on the other side of the world to change their ways.

  35. Thierry says:

    Gail, I appreciate your last sentence that, for once, gives some hope: “Perhaps a new “Tier 4 approach” might be helpful”.
    I am sure there are some ideas that you are aware of (probably not hydrogen). Of course, they will come too late. But I would like to have some insight about what you mean here? Even if this comes only for the next generations.

    • Xabier says:

      ‘Tier 4’ = Prayer?

      Looks like being the only option to me…….

    • I am afraid I don’t know. The problem is that they are not here now.

      Some folks think an improved version of nuclear will work. Perhaps one with built in reprocessing of the fuel.

      The people looking at Space Solar would like to have an improved version of the intermittent solar here on earth. They would like the cost to be “cheaper than coal.” They want the pollution to be out in space, rather than here on earth. They would like the intermittency to disappear. They would like to overproduce to the extent that they could use the unneeded excess to provide liquid fuels as well. But doing this, in any reasonable time frame, with the resources we actually have, is elusive.

      People have been looking at fusion forever. It is always 20 years away.

      Hydrogen seems to be a new “in” thing. It is a storage device for previously generated energy. Except that you cannot actually store the hydrogen, in practice.

      Intermittency is our big problem with energy. We need to store energy from summer to winter. We have no way of doing the long term storage that is needed. Adding a few batteries gets us nowhere. Also, time shifting within a day gets us close to nowhere.

      Another big issue is fresh water shortages. We have been over-using water resources for a long time. We cannot continue current water withdrawal rates. This is being blamed on climate change, but it would be here, with or without climate change. Lack of water affects a whole lot of things, including food production and electricity production.

      • Thierry says:

        Thank you Gail for the detailed response. Whatever Tier 4 could be, I wonder how humanity would deal with it. We have not been really good with fossil fuels, maybe it’s preferable we never find a greater power.

  36. Minority Of One says:

    “In 2012, Jorgen Randers prepared a forecast for the next 40 years for The Club of Rome, in the form of a book, 2052, with associated data. Looking at the data, we see that Randers forecast that world coal consumption would grow by 28% between 2010 and 2020. In fact, world coal consumption grew by 0% in that period”

    It was clear by 2007 that huge amounts of coal supplies were still available was a fantasy:

    COAL – The Roundup (July 2007)

    “Below the fold there is a roundup of the five reports published in the first half of 2007 on the global coal situation. They are all broadly in agreement saying that there is likely to be less coal available than traditionally thought.”

  37. James Speaks says:

    Thank you Gail Tverberg. Your columns should be required reading for any elected official at the level of mayor or above.

    There will be no major shift away from fossil fuels until fossil fuels are too difficult to extract. So, a sudden transition away from fossil fuels is likely. Then bad stuff happens because alternative sources of energy are ready for primetime.

    I think society will rebound, and when it does, nuclear energy will be the major source. For it to rebound much, nuclear sourced electricity will have to provide energy far in excess of the amount we consume now for it to be useful for transportation, and because it is inconvenient to use. I’m sure the technology for utilizing the Sabatier and Siluria processes will continue to develop.

    New developments in molten fuel cycles and molten salt-coolant cycles are promising. Either the attendent corrosion issues will be work out, or they will be factored in as a cost. Hungry and homeless people displaced from suburbia will take employment at whatever rate they can get. Labor will be much less expensive; materials more expensive.

    We will have to change the ways we use energy.

  38. Jan says:

    Why dont you guys get it? Energy per capita is an equation!

    — = Q

    If you halve the C the Q will double. That is simple mathmatics! Of course not everyone is a maths guy, but dont worry, Billy has calculated all for you!

    So if over the next ten years half of the population shuffle off their mortal coil the leftovers will not only inherit all that cant be taken along on the last voyage but also double their energy per capita!

    It is time to bow in front your true saviour!

    The big surprise stays, which half is going to be the lucky ones! One hint shall be given: it will be the more intelligent half. Not only energy per capita will double but also intelligence, the average IQ!

    Time to see the true ingenuity of the master!

    (for the faint hearted: irony off)

    • Bei Dawei says:

      In William Gibson’s novel “Agency” (about time travel), in one of the future timelines the global population has been decimated. Survivors call this “the Jackpot.” I guess this is why.

    • Tim Groves says:

      Jan, have you considered that it is unlikely that the current energy supply can be maintained if the population halves? There is bound to be a decline in gross energy demand and so production will ramp down. And some of the lost population will be people who are currently engaged in energy production. We can’t expect to double our per capita energy use by halving the population.

      It is also difficult to see average global IQ doubling from around 80 to 160 unless the 99% who have IQs below 140 disappear. In such a case, the remaining 1% of geniuses might have double the current average IQ. But given enough mRNA jabs in the 99%’s arms, this goal is feasible.

    • rufustiresias999 says:

      Of course you’re being ironic. I also thought this might be the plan. But we all know Dynamic systems are non linear.

  39. Hubbs says:

    We have to stop beating around the bush. The globalists are scorned because they want to limit population. However this may be our only realistic solution and it poses a tremendous moral and ethical dilemma when confronted by biologic, geologic and thermodynamic realities.Although energy might be considered the glue that binds all the requirements for growth, the reality is even with kind of a cheap energy , The supply of raw materials freshwater and farmland will be outstripped. Financial is ation in the form of debt is really just a proxy for future row materials that are needed in conjunction with energy. In short we are burning the candle at both ends financially and thermodynamically with the depletion of easily accessible and cheap oil and coal And at the same time going into unpayable debt.

    I look at all the distractions- the degradation of our educational system the debauching of our currency the Covid scam, the lack of rule of law, the mass illegal immigration, election fraud, the corporotocracy and fascist state , the green energy movement, wokeism etc. not really being any focused plan by the globalists rather a general multipronged plan of disruption and destabilization of civilization while they quietly consolidate their positions.

    • Don Millman says:

      Study Roman history, from the Punic Wars to the defeat of Constantinople in 1453.

    • Minority Of One says:

      Correct. But we do seem to be heading towards some sort of endgame.

    • Ed says:

      The attack you spell out is against the west. It s not happening in China or Russia. It is warfare and China/Russia is winning. As the west no longer has any leadership just CCP puppets I expect we lose.

    • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      “In short we are burning the candle at both ends financially and thermodynamically…” Yes, and I am all for it, as apparently are most people. Burn FF, maximize prosperity now, keep the Endgame going for a while longer. I can see 2022 from my house.

  40. The belief that Elon Musk, or some other darling the Usual Suspects select, will deliver us to the Promised Land, is the same kind of belief on perpetual motion, or the belief of wishing something for nothing.

    Unfortunately, an American by the name of Willard Gibbs set a limitation because he proposed the laws of Thermodynamics, which basically precludes all the wondrous things wished by some people who want something for nothing.

    If all these talents were not killed during the various wars Europe had, and were not replaced by Asians, Indians and Middle easterners who I have to say are nothing more than mules (they do the hard work but cannot procreate any new ideas to save their own behinds), things would have been different but it is too late to matter anyways.

    • The “Elon” well funded skunk works factor and related fin / PR manias brought (to critical nodes) hopium resulting – contributing in several extra yrs of quasi-BAU so far, that could be applauded in certain sense.

      Nevertheless, on the physical technical level the “solid state battery” properties ready for mass production were likely achieved already, perhaps if TPTB count on 1/10-1/20th global scale depop before ~2035, then it could match the overall energy and resource throughput needed for such altered / trimmed down industrial civilization of the future.

      There had been a lot of crazy “reshuffling” plans throughout the history, most did not pan out at all, some got relatively close, very few succeeded and saved the day in the last minute.

      • Xabier says:

        Well observed, ‘worldof.’

        A kind of re-shuffling was habitually used by the British aristocracy pre-1945 (most were bust by then).

        Shut up the big house (or houses), sack servants, live simply and cheaply, often on the Continent which was much cheaper than Britain – rather primitive dives like Germany, for instance, or Italy, the S. France (much nicer) but never Spain, and wait for annual estate revenues to steadily accumulate and dissolve the debts.

        In other words, severe retrenchment, while the basic – resilient agricultural or mining – structure remained the same.

        In our case, the inherited structure is doomed, as it is over-complex for the Earth to support – it is the problem, and no longer viable. Whereas, the old style of estate was a secure foundation that only a fool could mess up.

        The Cabal, however, currently appear intent on deepening that complexity in accord with the Tainter thesis ( 5G, etc, the total-surveillance state) while retrenching on services (education, hospitals) , increasing the power of corporations, and cutting most of us out of non-essential expenditure where possible.

        Not only that: it seems that even our very existence is to be cut out, through covert depopulation – like dismissed servants who can no longer be afforded……

        And so the pain of Collapse arrives here at the Core far sooner than we anticipated.

        • Thierry says:

          “severe retrenchment”? Do you mean in their bunkers? I would personally prefer to send them into space, as far as possible so they can never come back on earth.

          • Xabier says:

            That would be a lovely redefinition of retrenchment, just for them!

            Off into space in their black cult masks! The German woman in her EU mask, if she prefers.

            But I fear they are already digging the trenches…… for us.

        • Artleads says:

          It’s so well disguised that even good intuition doubts its clear indicators. It could go like this: We are very far into overshoot as a civilization, but we’re doing fine covering it up with debt, misinformation and technology. We could likely have already gone over the precipice and be in what they call a Wile Coyote moment. But it all moves too slowly for mass ability to comprehend.

  41. Don Stump says:

    I appreciate all of the comments. They are relevant but tend to address singular issues. The real problem that exists is there are too many people living on this planet and too many folks that are in control of our future seem to believe we can grow out of our problems. We continue to rearrange the deck chairs.

    • Michael T. says:

      I agree, Don Stump. Most people simply ignore what is right in front of their faces, which amazes me since this destructive juggernaut is not going to be stopped and “things” are not going to get better . . . yet the babies keep coming, poor souls.

      Physicist/population expert Albert Bartlett knew the score and was ignored, of course. I was lucky to have heard one of his lectures in 1970, and I did not reproduce.

      Wiki: As of July 2001 Professor Bartlett had lectured over 1,742 times since September, 1969 on Arithmetic, Population, and Energy. Bartlett regarded the word combination “sustainable growth” as an oxymoron, since even modest annual percentage population increases can represent exponential growth. Over time, huge changes will then occur. He therefore regarded human overpopulation as “The Greatest Challenge” facing humanity.

      He said: “Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?”

      • Fast Eddy says:

        There is nothing that could be done…. without imploding civilization.

        See Japan for what happens when population does not grow….

        We lost that option when we shifted to an industrial civilization … particularly when we transitioned to an oil dependent food supply … that destroyed the soil

        • Xabier says:

          The shots that rang out when they killed the beautiful plough horses – the product of centuries of careful breeding – en masse, and closed the studs, as tractors came in, were in fact the death knell of resilient agriculture, and hence of our civilisation.

          The tragedy of course, is that those little tractors were the only financially-viable solution for hard-pressed arable farmers at the time.

          I’ve read many farming memoirs, and they all concur on that point.

          Tractors improved narrow margins, saved labour and time: the only path to take was the one which led to Doom.

      • Mirror on the wall says:

        The way that I personally see it, is that personal celibacy is totally ineffective as a solution to anything. The economic societies have their own momentum, their own ‘logic’ that drives them on. Capitalism has to expand in order to continue, otherwise it would just collapse even quicker. Capitalist states plan decades ahead for how many workers they estimate that they will need to grow the economy, and to service structural debt, to pay pensions etc. They simply bring in more workers to make up any shortfall – hundreds of thousands per year in USA or UK. That is not about to change. So there is no societal argument for personal celibacy.

        And personally I am OK with that. There is no ‘right or wrong’ way of responding to the ‘irrationality’ of a clearly unsustainable future. There are only the perspectives of various persons, according to what ‘makes sense’ to them, and how they personally respond to the internal and external stimuli. It ‘means’ nothing beyond what people think that it ‘means’. Personally I do not see human existence as ‘rational’ or ‘planned’ anyway – it is simply driven by largely blind organic drives, and by material and energetic laws of historical social development.

        So, the ‘irrationality’ or ‘unplanned’ aspect of contemporary life, even of collapse, does not really bother me, because I do not expect life to be ‘rational’ or ‘planned’ anyway. It ‘just is what it is’, and it could never have turned out differently to how it did – ‘will’ is simply the response of the organism to internal and external stimuli, the chain of cause and effect, and the entire history of the cosmos would have had to have been different for the present to have worked out differently.

        Human existence is not really planned, we find ourselves ‘thrown’ into the world, into the world in a particular condition over which we have no control. Even one’s kids turn out to be unique personalities, and one can never really ‘plan’ one’s family life in that sense – we are just ‘thrown’ into a reality, even if we have actively engaged with it. Spouses are not necessarily ‘who’ we thought that they would be, 20 years later – people are whomsoever they turn out to be, and much is simply ‘given’ to one in life. But human life is always like that, it is full of ‘accidentals’ that comprise our personal reality.

        Personally I am glad that I have lived in these times, despite any pending collapse. You are born, you live and you make ‘the most’ of it, and then you die – it does not ‘mean’ anything beyond what people think that it means. It is not ‘rational’ or ‘planned’ – but it is not ‘supposed’ to be. Ultimately it is just organic drives in motion – and that is OK, with me anyway. So, personally I feel that life is still ‘worth’ living, even if it does inevitably end in suffering and ruin for everyone – it always has and it always will. And I am happy to let the kids live their own lives in these times.

        But if some people feel otherwise, then that is completely up to them – they are who they are, and they will make ‘decisions’ according to how they personally respond to the external and internal stimuli. I would never presume to tell other people whether they should have kids, or how many, which would pretty much be ‘playing god’ – as if there were some ‘criterion of absolute truth’ on the matter. A society might implement demographic policies (ours do to increase the workforce), but we do not live in the sort of societies that are going to tell people to limit kids – it is simply not the social reality that we live in.

        That is just my own personal perspective – I am not saying that it ‘should’ be anyone else’s.

        • mtttux says:

          Great comment.

        • Mirror on the wall says:

          As Jim put it, we are ‘riders on the storm’ – some of us cope with the imperfections of life, and raise a family who can do the same – and some opt out, which is their choice. How can kids enjoy The Doors if they are not born?

      • John R. says:

        Michael T., it’s always nice to see the very few here who take overpopulation seriously. True wisdom is so rare.

        • People have been “taking overpopulation seriously” since 1970, when we were all taught about it in elementary school. Nothing changed; in fact, world population has more than doubled since.

          Organisms which do not reproduce go extinct. Organisms which do reproduce go extinct. Evolution does not favor organisms which do not reproduce in the first place.

          It’s taken me a while to fully appreciate our lack of free will. The energy gradients *will* be broken down, whether John R.’s kids do it, or somebody else’s kids do it,

          Taking oneself out of the race in no way stops the race from continuing.

          ‘Squatters with Brooklyn accents’

          “You are stealing my house!”

          “If I don’t steal it, someone else is gonna steal it,” Jacob answers. “So why are you yelling at me?”

          • Michael T. says:

            Mirror, I stopped reading at your first sentence: The way that I personally see it, is that personal celibacy is totally ineffective as a solution to anything.
            Reason 1: the redundant use of “personally/personal” within one rather short sentence

            Reason 2: the incorrect insertion of a comma that separates the subject from its predicate

            Just kidding!

            The real reason is the bizarre nature of your assumption. Who said one has to be celibate in order not to reproduce? Have you not heard of birth control or sterilization? Since I’ve been married for a very long time, continue your fantasies with someone else please.
            lidia, it is quite obvious that overpopulation has never been taken seriously. Do I have to belabor this point? Really? No, I’ll just use your own assertion that the world population has more than doubled since 1970.
            Thanks, John R., and I, for one, understood that your mentioning of taking overpopulation seriously actually meant walking the talk by refraining from breeding.

            • Mirror on the wall says:

              Oh goodness, the grammar police are in town. And you wont read beyond the first sentence? Maybe that is you all over, a ‘perfectionist’ who is simply crippled by his own inadequacy to cope with real life – or with debate, it seems. ‘Redundancy’ is often used for emphasis (cope with it) and commas for ease of reading (cope with it).

              We are all aware that I used ‘celibate’ in a proximate sense, there is no need to get your nickers (or chastity belt) in a bunch about it. We perhaps do not have a word that precisely means ‘involuntarily infecund’, but we cope with it. And that in no way alters the import of what I said. So, opt out at the outset if you want, it is what you do.

              If you are convinced that life is not worth living in the ‘end times’ then why do you not just do the ‘rational’ thing, and end your own life? No one is stopping you, and it would spare us your obnoxious virtue-signalling – it would be a win-win.

              Either you are fraudulent poser or a coward – not a great look, either way. By all means remove yourself from the gene pool, I will not be losing any sleep over it.

            • Conrad says:

              Ha ha! Thanks, Michael T., for stirring up the herd. Most here absolutely detest the overpopulation discussion because of self-defensive hubris. I guess they skipped over Gail’s first paragraph. Also, most of us here, in case you’re new, read comments only from reasonably healthy-minded contributors . . . hint, hint.

            • Mirror on the wall says:

              Conrad, I do not see you joining in any discussion on ‘over-population’ – all I see is you ‘herding’ with people who agree with you, and refusing to read anything else. Baa. Pot, kettle.

  42. Will UFOs save us?

    One of the people who post here said if the UFO paradigm is true all the EROEI and other stuff all go to the crappers, and we will mine methane in one of the moons of Saturn, for example.

    I had offered a counterexample ; airplanes.

    We have had airplanes for 120 years, but we do not carry iron ore , or other metals (except maybe very small samples), by air.

    That is because it is extremely inefficient and not cost effective.

    Anyone who has never paid air freight bills won’t understand it.

    Sorry, no amount of optimism overcomes thermodynamics.

  43. Steve Bull says:

    I have to wonder if any new (even if ‘clean/green”) energy source could reverse our fundamental dilemma: overshoot. A novel energy source, it would seem, would just put us further into overshoot leading to an even more stupendous collapse.

    • zbigniewbohdanowiczgmailcom says:

      +1; I share this view. We had clean and cheap energy – in the very beginning it was oil, because back then nobody cared about the smoke, it disappeared quickly, diluted in the air. And by using oil, we pushed the Earth past its limits in many areas, not just climate change…

  44. Pingback: How Energy Transition Models Go Wrong –

  45. Rick Larson says:

    There are differences in forested areas is a point I noticed. Indeed, the ecological benefits of a climax forest are a higher level, requiring a higher order of life to succeed, than the tree species that regrow naturally if allowed, even lower is that of the normal method of replanting just for the wood products.

    It should be noted a climax forest would require a far lower amount of trees than the two mentioned above. More trees does not necessarily equate to more ecological services.

    Climax forests can be replanted to those species that would provide a crop to all manner of life, including humans, but this will take centuries to establish. In Permaculture there is a successional plan to speed this process up to one and a half centuries. Even though the odds of succeeding are close to zero, we have to try anyway.

    A diverse climax forest also moderates the climate and being left alone in succession being resilient to the extremes. Humans may have taken this system so far backwards this system as has been in place for tens of millions of years can no longer achieve this status on its own.

    The era of increasing diversity is clearly over for now, how low it will go is anyone’s guess, visitors to this weblog could/would/should consider an unmentionable worse case scenario.

    • Lizzie says:

      What’s a climax forest?

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Climax….hmmm… this is a family site…

    • From my permaculture studies, I remember the climax forest being regarded as somewhat of a dead end, energy-wise. Senescent. In my understanding, permaculturists are taught to design systems that are in managed transition and to exploit and maintain productive transition zones in perpetuity, since that is where energy transformation is greatest and thus most easily exploitable. I think of it as a surfer catching an energetical wave (I think Geoff Lawton was an avid surfer, but I’m not sure if he ever made this connection).

      • “permaculturists” solved the bad sinks and loops from the conventional agriculture approach, unfortunately mass adoption if it ever occurs is not likely inside our limited time epoch window as of now.. at best it might percolate through later and under different overall setting (further evolution stage if you will)..

  46. Mike Snead says:

    In 2008, I wrote “The End of Easy Energy and What to Do about It.”

    I have also published a series of papers on the solution, such as “The Rationale for a National Astroelectricity Program”.

    Problems such as this have existed throughout our history of civilization beginning 12,000 years ago. They are, as this one will be, solved by progressive engineering focused on improving the standard of living through technological innovation.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Good for you Mike!!!

      Personally… I’m going to book a ticket on Elon’s Mars Express… and move to the new frontier when collapse hits …

      • Ed says:

        At last! Glad to see you coming around FE. Margaret and I will have you and Mrs Fast over for a house warming on Mars.

  47. Sam says:

    How long can they create artificial growth. It is essentially where we are today. In zero hedge article the claim that $70 will create investment interest in oil… I think this is still too low.

    • Minority Of One says:

      “In zero hedge article the claim that $70 will create investment interest in oil…”

      It might well do. But it is unlikely to increase oil production significantly. Few large, good oil fields left.

  48. Don Millman says:

    I used to be an ethanol enthusiast, back when I was Don Sailorman on The Oil Drum. Now I am a hydrogen enthusiast. Collapse is possible but not inevitable. I think you underestimate the power of markets and the great power of Schumpeter’s Creative Destruction.

    • Rodster says:

      “Collapse is possible but not inevitable.”

      Collapse is inevitable, it’s just trying to figure out when it will happen. Why is collapse inevitable? Because EVERY major civilization and Empire has collapsed throughout history. History may not repeat but it sure as hell rhymes.

      • Steve Bull says:

        In response to an article I read this morning on the NATO counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, that was referred to as the Build Back Better World, I posted the following:

        “One final blow off top of fossil fuel use? This situation reminded me of archaeologist Joseph Tainter’s observation in The Collapse of Complex Societies with regard to peer polities that:

        1) they tend to get caught up in spiralling competitive investments as they seek to outmaneuver others and evolve greater complexity together;
        2) the polities caught up in this competition increasingly experience declining marginal returns and must invest ever-increasing amounts leading to greater economic weakness;
        3) withdrawing from this spiral or collapsing is not an option without risking being subsumed by a competitor;
        4) it is this trap of competition that will continue to drive the pursuit of complexity regardless of human/environmental costs;
        5) incentives and economic reserves can support this situation for a lengthy period as witnessed by the Roman and Mayan experiences where centuries of diminishing returns were endured;
        6) ever-increasing costs and ever-decreasing marginal returns typify peer polities in competition;
        7) this ends in either domination by one state and a new energy subsidy or collapse of all.
        “Collapse, if and when it comes again, will this time be global. No longer can any individual nation collapse. World civilization will disintegrate as a whole. Competitors who evolve as peers collapse in like manner.””

        • Interesting!

          I didn’t remember exactly what “The Collapse of Complex Societies” says. It would seem like some small economies could collapse before the economy as a whole. I should go back and look at what it says.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          This is really good:

          “Collapse, if and when it comes again, will this time be global. No longer can any individual nation collapse. World civilization will disintegrate as a whole. Competitors who evolve as peers collapse in like manner.””

          This but with no food, electricity, petrol, medicine whatsoever – forever.

          Most people will reject this. To acknowledge would likely lead to madness + utter despair.

          But if one does recognize that we are a cancer on the planet… then one might be pleased with what’s coming down the pipe. We all need to take one for Mother … huh.

        • Sam says:

          I agree a lot of people on here think that collapse will happen in the outlying countries..
          And the core countries will be OK. I don’t think it will play out that way

          • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

            and yet it looks like this is happening now.. Who says that all countries are equal peers? Bigger countries are alpha bulllies, and it’s not human nature to share equally with the weak. Survival of the fittest countries. Eventually, the Collapse will be worldwide, but look around at the present reality.

            • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

              it’s not fair, but it is real.

            • Ed says:

              It is the summer of peace love and happiness in the US. Out to the show and dancing tonight. Jay Collins at Colony Woodstock. Wine women and song

            • David, your analysis is spot on.

              And more over, people often not fully appreciate the fact that it’s also the aspiring upper middle and ruling (caste) classes of the 1.5-2.5-3rd world, who eventually helped to provide us with decades of extra quasi BAU by simply throwing their own compatriots under the bus in exchange for receiving the mirage of “western style” affluence for themselves by simply being “the good pupils” of the global interests..

    • Fast Eddy says:

      One jump from one Delusion to another… bravo!

      Did I mention that I moved to New Zealand to pursue my dream of breading a new species of sheep?

      I mate sheep with solar panels creating a hybrid …. Solar Sheep… the plan is to plug them into the grid and we have what is called a perpetual energy source…

      The problem is getting the ram to mount the panel… I’ve put lipstick and a wig and sexy underwear … even stapled on some magnificent boobs … but the ram won’t take the bait…

      Any ideas on how I can get this to Stage 2?

    • It is my understanding that it is very difficult to keep hydrogen in any kind of container because the molecules are so small. This has cooled my enthusiasm for hydrogen playing a major role, anywhere. Of course, it is only an energy carrier, not an energy source, another detail.

      • Xabier says:

        Ugo Bardi recently wrote some excellent pieces on the hydrogen fantasy.

        But then again, the jolly Green Future cartoon ads from Shell show happy families filling up their cars with the stuff, so let’s go with them and call Bardi ‘misinformation’!

      • Curt Kurschus says:

        That is something that most people seem to not consider when extolling the virtues of the hydrogen economy. The hydrogen atoms slip through the gaps between the atoms of the materials used to contain them, making hydrogen a guaranteed sink, not a source. There is also the energy in the building of the infrastructure to consider, given that the absolute best we can get in a thought experimenting visualising a laboratory set up would be energy neutral and therefore an energy carrier. Therefore, any energy expended in the building, maintenance, repair and replacement of the storage tanks and pipelines would make the hydrogen a net energy sink. This is something that people don’t think of because fossil fuels have historically been so enormously net energy positive that such energy used in the building etc of the related infrastructure didn’t really matter.

  49. DB says:

    Thank you, Gail. Excellent post, as always.

    More problems with just-in-time supply chains, this time with chlorine for water treatment on the west coast of the US:

    These are the kinds of problems you have long anticipated.

    • How will we be able to adapt to all the problems that seem likely to be cropping up? I don’t know.

      I am sure that out-of-the-way places like New Zealand, Cuba, and Hawaii will have even more difficulty in getting the supplies that they are used to having.

      • gpdawson2016 says:

        How will we adapt?! We’re watching it now …it’s called lockdowns and reset. As you say in your second paragraph: climate change has ‘some of the same solutions as running out of fossil fuels’ well, so do lockdowns! And Lockstep is the means to achieving them.

        A good discussion to have here on your venerable blog would be: how have lockdowns helped support the current high oil price? Has the Triangle of Doom been Made invalid by them? Any takers?

        • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

          the annual world cost for oil is about $2T. The economic benefit is probably 10x to 20x higher. If oil prices soon drop significantly, it would be unwise for world govs to not support oil production with necessary subsidies. The benefits far outweigh the costs. And yet, it very well could be that too low prices will be allowed to doom production. That would be unfortunate and unnecessary. Meanwhile, we are seeing a resurgence in price which is good. Mid 70s into the 80s or 90s would perhaps bring higher production later this decade. The high prices probably can’t last to 2030, maybe not even to 2022, but higher is better than lower. I like oil.

          • Sam says:

            “annual world cost for oil is about $2T. “ not doubting you but where do you get that number?
            My guess is that it is much higher than that there’s lotta hidden cost that don’t make it to the books

            • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

              $70 times 30 billion barrels per year = about $2T. The world can afford a $3T annual cost for oil. The benefits of 30 billion barrels far outweigh the costs.

            • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

              actually, rethinking that, the $2T is oil at the wellhead. It’s useless until it’s refined and delivered to endusers. So add wild guess 50% it’s probably already $3T. The point remains, even $4T or $5T, the world gets much more benefit than what refinded oil products cost. That’s why it has been so widely popular for 100+ years.

      • Craig says:

        And the Pacific Islands where each island has its own storage tanks of avgas, petrol and diesel looking out to sea

      • Fred says:

        I moved to a rural area a few years back (a) to enjoy the lifestyle and (b) to prep for the coming collapse.

        I recently realised that prepping is pointless for long-term survival – there are just too many black swan scenarios to plan for. However it certainly improves lifestyle pre-collapse and if we keep on with steady degradation, rather than collapse, it will work well.

        There’s historical evidence that general derangement of society is a harbinger of impending collapse, so that’s not good news for the West.

        A passing note: We seem to have acquired some new, earnestly optimistic commenters. FE I trust you’ll take the necessary steps to enlighten them.

        • Murray D Millman says:

          Fine. Enlighten me. I moved to New Zealand in 1960. Nicole Foss is still there.

    • Thanks for your pointers about the chlorine problem. Don’t miss this comment by “Seneca Cliff.”

Comments are closed.