Author Archives: Gail Tverberg

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.

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.

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Posted in Energy policy | Tagged , , , | 401 Comments

Don’t expect the world economy to resume its prior growth pattern after COVID-19

Most people seem to think that the world economy is going through a temporary disruption, caused by a novel coronavirus. As soon as COVID-19 goes away, they expect the economy will be back to normal. I think that this assessment is overly optimistic. The way I see the situation, the world economy was already having severe growth problems, caused indirectly by resource problems, even before COVID-19 hit. Continue reading

Posted in Financial Implications | Tagged , , , | 3,576 Comments

How the World’s Energy Problem Has Been Hidden

We now live in a strange world filled with half-truths, not too different from the world of the 1930s. US newspapers leave out the many stories that could be written about rising food insecurity around the world, and even in the US. We see more reports of conflicts among countries and increasing gaps between the rich and the poor, but no one explains that such changes are to be expected when energy consumption per capita starts falling too low. Continue reading

Posted in Financial Implications | Tagged , , , | 3,735 Comments

We can’t expect COVID-19 to go away; we should plan accordingly

To a significant extent, what we can and should do in the future is an energy issue. If we plan to transition to a green energy future, or if we simply plan to reduce usage of fossil fuels in future years, we probably need to scale back our plans for vaccines. In fact, any treatment that would be given in today’s emergency rooms is likely to become less and less possible as energy supplies deplete.

We will need to focus more on what our bodies can do for us, and what we can do to assist them in this effort. We also need to think about what simple changes to our environment (such as windows that open) can do for the prevention of both COVID-19 and the many other communicable diseases that we can expect to encounter in the future. The big issue will be changing expectations. Continue reading

Posted in Financial Implications | Tagged , | 3,514 Comments

Headed for a Collapsing Debt Bubble

The economy runs on energy, far more than it operates on growing debt. Our energy problems don’t appear to be fixable in the near term, such as six months or a year. Instead, the economy seems to be headed for a collapse of its debt bubble. Eventually, we may see a reset of the world financial system leading to fewer interchangeable currencies, far less international trade and falling production of goods and services. Some governments may collapse. Continue reading

Posted in Financial Implications | 3,106 Comments