## Business-as-usual porn – or, We need to talk about collapse

I think we need to talk openly and calmly about the possibility of societal or civilizational collapse arising from humanity’s present predicaments. And that’s mostly what I want to pursue in this post – not so much what the likelihood or the underlying mechanisms of collapse might be, but the idea that it would be useful if, as a society,[Read More…]

July 19, 2020 Resource Crisis

## Malthus Revisited

A new freely downloadable book I would like to announce the publication of a book, which discusses the excessive weight that our total human population and economy has imposed on the global environment. The book may be freely downloaded and circulated from the following link: http://eacpe.org/app/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Malthus-Revisited-by-John-Scales-Avery.pdf Malthus’ “Essay on The Principle of Population” T.R. Malthus’ {\em Essay on The Principle[Read More…]

June 28, 2020 Resource Crisis

## COVID-19 and oil at $1: Is there a way forward? Many people are concerned today with the low price of oil. Others are concerned about slowing or stopping COVID-19. Is there any way forward? I gave a few hints regarding what is ahead in my last post, Economies won’t be able to recover after shutdowns. We live in a world with a self-organizing economy, made up of components such as businesses, customers,[Read More…] April 21, 2020 Resource Crisis ## Collapse: The Coronavirus is not a Cause, it is a Trigger Do you remember the story of the straw that broke the camel’s back? It is an illustration of how overloaded systems are sensitive to small perturbations. Could the COVID-19 epidemic be the straw that breaks the back of the world’s economy? Like an overloaded camel, the world’s economy is strained by at least two tremendous burdens: one is the increasing[Read More…] April 17, 2020 Resource Crisis ## Economies won’t be able to recover after shutdowns Citizens seem to be clamoring for shutdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19. There is one major difficulty, however. Once an economy has been shut down, it is extremely difficult for the economy to recover back to the level it had reached previously. In fact, the longer the shutdown lasts, the more critical the problem is likely to be. China[Read More…] April 1, 2020 Resource Crisis ## Seafood and Population This July 2019 photo provided by Peter Westley shows carcasses of chum salmon lie along the shore of the Koyukuk River near Huslia. Alaska scientists and fisheries managers are investigating the deaths of salmon that may be tied to the state’s unusually hot, dry summer. (Peter Westley, University of Alaska Fairbanks via AP) You plan on eating Pacific Ocean seafood[Read More…] January 31, 2020 Resource Crisis ## 7 Billion + Population Problem This is meant to be an article for activist education and therefore on the one hand it starts with explaining basic concepts; on the other hand it avoids academic references. The population problem is complex and has been debated since Marx’s time. In the past leftists maintained that it is not a real problem, but a creation of capitalism. However[Read More…] November 26, 2019 Resource Crisis ## Report From Iran: The Country Moves Onward Iran is a country that maintains something of the fascination it had in ancient times, when it was both fabulous and remote. In our times, it remained somewhat remote, but also something that couldn’t be ignored as it went through a series of dramatic events, from the revolution of 1979, the hostage crisis, the Iraq-Iran war from 1980 to 1988,[Read More…] October 28, 2019 Resource Crisis ## Our Energy and Debt Predicament in 2019 Many people are concerned that we have an oil problem. Or they are concerned about recession and the need to lower interest rates. As I see the situation, we have a problem of a networked economy that is not functioning well. A big part of this problem is energy-related. Strange as it may seem, energy prices (including oil prices) are too[Read More…] September 13, 2019 Resource Crisis ## Debunking ‘Lower Oil Supply Will Raise Prices’ We often hear the statement, “When oil supply is lower, oil prices will rise because of scarcity.” Now, we are getting to see firsthand whether oil prices really do rise, as oil supplies become more scarce. Figure 1. Figure from the OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report for August 2019 showing world and OPEC oil production by month. Figure 1 shows that world[Read More…] August 23, 2019 Resource Crisis ## Europe, Europe! The Dream Doesn’t Die There was a time, long ago, when the term “Europe” was a vague definition for the lands north of the Mediterranean Sea, a vast regions of fog and swamps, inhabited by hairy Barbarians. In time, the Roman Empire came to dominate the area we call today “Western Europe” but nobody would even dream to call him or herself “European.” For[Read More…] May 29, 2019 Resource Crisis ## The true feasibility of moving away from fossil fuels One of the great misconceptions of our time is the belief that we can move away from fossil fuels if we make suitable choices on fuels. In one view, we can make the transition to a low-energy economy powered by wind, water, and solar. In other versions, we might include some other energy sources, such as biofuels or nuclear, but[Read More…] April 10, 2019 Resource Crisis ## When the Going gets Tough, Women get Going. “MIddle Ages 2.0” and the Great Transformation Awaiting us In Europe, Greta Thunberg has smashed all the memetic barriers succeeding in doing what nobody else had succeeded before: bringing the climate emergency within the horizon of the public and of the decision makers. In parallel, on the other side of the Atlantic, another young woman, Alexandra Ocasio Cortez has been doing something similar with her “Green New Deal.”These are[Read More…] March 19, 2019 Resource Crisis ## The real Energy Return of Crude Oil: smaller than you would have imagined A simple but important study by Luciano Celi shows what is the real energy return that oil companies manage to attain. Much smaller than you would have believed, in several cases it is today well below 10. Which means that renewable energies already produce a larger EROI than oil and gas. No more excuses for not switching to renewables as fast[Read More…] March 9, 2019 ## What can we Learn About Collapse From the Middle Ages? The Great Challenge of the Seneca Bottleneck The idea that a collapse is awaiting our civilization seems to be gaining ground, although it has not reached the mainstream debate. But no civilization before ours escaped collapse, so it makes sense to think that the entity we call “The West” is going to crash down, badly, in the future. Then, just as it happened to the Romans long[Read More…] March 4, 2019 Resource Crisis ## Have We Already Passed World Peak Oil and World Peak Coal? Most people expect that our signal of an impending reduction in world oil or coal production will be high prices. Looking at historical data (for example, this post and this post), this is precisely the opposite of the correct price signal. Oil and coal supplies decline because prices fall too low for producers. These producers make voluntary cutbacks because the prices they receive fall below their[Read More…] February 23, 2019 Resource Crisis ## What’s Emperor Trump Doing? He is Busy at Splitting the Empire in Two Flavius Theodosius Augustus “The Great” (347- 395 CE) was the last emperor to rule over the whole Roman Empire. His success was probably due in large part to his habit of plundering Pagan temples for the gold he needed to pay his troops. But Pagan temples were a limited resource and Theodosius himself seemed to understand that when, shortly before[Read More…] February 12, 2019 Resource Crisis ## How the Peak Oil story could be “close,” but not quite right A few years ago, especially in the 2005-2008 period, many people were concerned that the oil supply would run out. They were concerned about high oil prices and a possible need for rationing. The story was often called “Peak Oil.” Peak Oil theorists have also branched out into providing calculations that might be used to determine which substitutes for fossil fuels[Read More…] January 31, 2019 Resource Crisis ## Has U.S. shale oil entered a death spiral? As long as investors continued to plow money into U.S. shale oil companies, the industry seemed unstoppable. But with the flow of those funds all but stopped, has the U.S. shale oil industry entered a death spiral? The bad news coming out of the shale oil fields of America could all be put down to slumping oil prices. That is[Read More…] January 29, 2019 Resource Crisis ## Oil’s Wild Price Swings Set to Create Global Chaos As the current global oil glut shakes up petro states around the world, oil prices are becoming more volatile than Donald Trump tweets. Neither Canada, now the dumb owner of a marginal 65-year-old pipeline, nor Alberta, a key exporter of bitumen, a cheap refinery feedstock, has paid much attention to this revolution. As a consequence Canada has no strategy to[Read More…] January 11, 2019 Resource Crisis ## Furtherance: A Response to Gail Tverberg’s “World Economy is Reaching Growth Limits: Expect Low Oil Prices, Financial Turbulence” I am always delighted to read another piece by Gail Tverberg. Her articles are consistently highly informative, and the information she presents to us is without exception well documented, clear, and concise. Her work flows from and is the extension of that of Donella and Dennis Meadows as expounded in their book The Limits of Growth, which can be downloaded from[Read More…] January 11, 2019 Resource Crisis ## 2019: World Economy Is Reaching Growth Limits; Expect Low Oil Prices, Financial Turbulence Financial markets have been behaving in a very turbulent manner in the last couple of months. The issue, as I see it, is that the world economy is gradually changing from a growth mode to a mode of shrinkage. This is something like a ship changing course, from going in one direction to going in reverse. The system acts as if the[Read More…] January 10, 2019 Resource Crisis ## “Energy Dominance,” what does it mean? Decoding a Fashionable Slogan “Now, I know for a fact that American energy dominance is within our grasp as a nation.” Ryan Zinke, U.S. Secretary of the Interior (source) “All Warfare is Based on Deception” Sun Tzu, “The Art of War” Over nearly a half-century, since the time of Richard Nixon, American presidents have proclaimed the need for “energy independence” for the US, without[Read More…] January 8, 2019 Resource Crisis ## Electricity won’t save us from our oil problems Almost everyone seems to believe that our energy problems are primarily oil-related. Electricity will save us. I recently gave a talk to a group of IEEE electricity researchers (primarily engineers) about the current energy situation and how welcoming it is for new technologies. Needless to say, this group did not come with the standard mindset. They wanted to understand what the[Read More…] December 21, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Peak Diesel or no Peak Diesel? The Debate is Ongoing In a recent post, Antonio Turiel proposed that the global peak of diesel fuel production was reached three years ago, in 2018. Turiel’s idea is especially interesting since it takes into account the fact that what we call “oil” is actually a wide variety of liquids of different characteristics. The current boom of the extraction of tight oil (known also[Read More…] December 17, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Low Oil Prices: An Indication of Major Problems Ahead? Many people, including most Peak Oilers, expect that oil prices will rise endlessly. They expect rising oil prices because, over time, companies find it necessary to access more difficult-to-extract oil. Accessing such oil tends to be increasingly expensive because it tends to require the use of greater quantities of resources and more advanced technology. This issue is sometimes referred to[Read More…] November 29, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Energy – Water Nexus: The Escalating Threat In The Context Of High GDP Growth Paradigm Abstract: In the context of growing gap between the demand and the availability of energy and fresh water in India, the close relationship between the usage of energy and water needs a diligent focus for obvious reasons; especially in the context of fast looming Climate Change phenomenon. This nexus has a major impact on various associated issues of the natural[Read More…] November 24, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Peak Oil, 20 Years Later: Failed Prediction or Useful Insight? 20 years ago, Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrere published an article on “Scientific American” that was to start the second cycle of interest on oil depletion (the first had been started by Hubbert in the 1950s). Their prediction turned out to be too pessimistic, at least in terms of the supply of combustible liquids, still growing today. Yet, it was a valuable[Read More…] November 20, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Why we get bad diagnoses for the world’s energy-economy problems The world economy seems to be seriously ill. The problem is not overly high oil prices, but that does not rule out energy as being a major underlying problem. Two of the symptoms of the economy’s malaise are slow wage growth and increasing wage disparity. Tariffs are being added as solutions to these issues. Radical leaders are increasingly being elected.[Read More…] November 8, 2018 Resource Crisis ## A sustainable global population -and why we cannot achieve it In the period 1975 – 2018, world population increased at an average of 83 million per year, and reached 7.6 billion in 2018. The increase in 2017 was the difference between approximately 145 million births and 62 million deaths. Despite population growth, the global average daily food supply per person rose from 2440 kilocalories in 1975 to 2940 kilocalories in[Read More…] October 26, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Why Economists Can’t Understand Complex Systems: The case of William Nordhaus, Nobel Prize in Economics After having been awarded the Nobel prize in economics of this year, William Nordhaus has been often presented as some sort of an ecologist (see, e.g. this article on Forbes). Surely, Nordhaus’ work on climate has merit and he is one of the leading world economists who recognize the importance of the problem and who propose remedies for it. On the[Read More…] October 15, 2018 Resource Crisis ## The World’s Fragile Economic Condition – Part 2 The world economy can appear to be operating quite well but can be hiding a major problem that causes it to be fragile. My presentation The World’s Fragile Economic Condition (PDF) explains why we should expect financial problems if energy consumption stops growing sufficiently rapidly. In fact, a global sell off in the equity markets, such as we have started to see[Read More…] October 15, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Could Donald Trump be the Last World Emperor? States and Empires After the End of the Fossil Age A warlord named Sargon of Akkad was perhaps the first man in history to rule a true empire, around mid 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamia. Before him, humans had been warring against each other for millennia, but the largest social structures they had developed were no larger than city-states. Gradually, new forms of social aggregation emerged: kingdoms and empires, structures[Read More…] October 7, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Autumnal Equinox – 2018: On the way down To be completely honest I am not sure what more I can say; certainly nothing that would really help our situation. Here we are at the autumnal equinox, heading for the darkness of winter, and, frankly, it seems appropriate. The collapse of our neoliberal, capitalistic, technological Western culture is well under way in my view. And, in truth, not just[Read More…] October 3, 2018 Resource Crisis ## The World’s Fragile Economic Condition – Part 1 Where is the world economy heading? In my opinion, a large portion of the story that we usually hear about how the world economy operates and the role energy plays is not really correct. In this post (to be continued in Part 2 in the near future), I explain how some of the major elements of the world economy seem to[Read More…] September 24, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Did the Club of Rome Ever Disavow “The Limits to Growth”? A Story of Ordinary Disinformation The Club of Rome is inextricably linked to the legendary report that it commissioned to a group of MIT researchers in 1972, “The Limits to Growth.” Today, nearly 50 years later, we still have to come to terms with the vision brought by the report, a vision that contradicts the core of some of humankind’s most cherished beliefs. The report[Read More…] September 24, 2018 Resource Crisis ## How the World Elites are Going to Betray us: Lessons from Roman History The more I study the story of the Roman Empire, the more I see the similarities with our world. Of course, history doesn’t always repeat itself, but it is impressive to note how with the start of the collapse of the Western Empire, the Roman elites abandoned the people to build themselves strongholds in safe places. Something similar may be[Read More…] August 8, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Human Predators, Human Prey This is Part I of a 3-part essay that uses predation as a metaphor to unpack power relations in human societies. Introduction A lion runs down a gazelle; a raiding band brandishing clubs, bows, and arrows descends on a tribal village; a loan shark confronts a delinquent borrower. In each of these three scenarios one party seeks to gain at[Read More…] August 8, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Book Review: Plunder of the Commons What exactly are ‘commons’? What resources should come under the umbrella idea of commons? Who owns them? Who should govern and regulate them? Who should it benefit and what has been the practise so far? All these are extremely complex questions involving a layered and extensive understanding of history, societal context, political and economic dispensation, and more. Academic scholarship has[Read More…] August 6, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Population And The Environment One hopes that human wisdom and ethics will continue to grow, but unlimited growth of population and industry on a finite earth is a logical impossibility. Today we are pressing against the absolute limits of the earth’s carrying capacity. There are many indications that the explosively increasing global population of humans, and the growth of pollution-producing and resource-using industries are[Read More…] August 5, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Supplemental energy puts humans in charge Energy is a subject that is greatly misunderstood. Its role in our lives is truly amazing. We humans are able to live and move because of the energy that we get from food. We count this energy in calories. Green plants are also energy dependent. In photosynthesis, plants use energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide and water into[Read More…] August 3, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Ted Nordhaus Is Wrong: We Are Exceeding Earth’s Carrying Capacity In his article, “The Earth’s Carrying Capacity for Human Life is Not Fixed,” Ted Nordhaus, co-founder of the Breakthrough Institute, a California-based energy and environment think tank, seeks to enlist readers in his optimistic vision of the future. It’s a future in which there are many more people on the planet and each enjoys a high standard of living, while[Read More…] July 31, 2018 Resource Crisis ## A Seneca Collapse for the World’s Human Population? This is a condensed and modified version of a paper of mine that appeared on “The Journal of Population and Sustainability” this year. The image above is the well known “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” by Albrecht Durer – 1498. Yes, I know it is catastrophistic, but it is not my fault if biological populations do tend to collapse![Read More…] July 17, 2018 Resource Crisis ## The world’s weird self-organizing economy Why is it so difficult to make accurate long-term economic forecasts for the world economy? There are many separate countries involved, each with a self-organizing economy made up of businesses, consumers, governments, and laws. These individual economies together create a single world economy, which again is self-organizing. Self-organizing economies don’t work in a convenient linear pattern–in other words, in a[Read More…] July 12, 2018 Resource Crisis ## The Queen and the Philosopher: what we can learn today from the story of Boudica’s rebellion against the Roman Empire We know very little about Queen Boudica of the Iceni (20 AD (?) – 61 AD) and most of what we know is probably deformed by Roman propaganda. But we may still be able to put together the main elements of her story and how it was that she almost threw the mighty Roman Legions out of Britain. Above, a fantasy[Read More…] July 10, 2018 Resource Crisis ## 10 years after the oil price spike: Is peak oil a process rather than a moment? Ten years ago this week—July 11, 2008 to be exact—the price of a barrel of oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange hit an intraday high of$147.27, its highest price ever. By the following autumn the world economy was in shambles and the price of oil was tumbling. The oil price eventually bottomed out around $34 per barrel in mid-February the following[Read More…] July 10, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Overpopulation Problem? What Overpopulation Problem? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ke6UoG8WKU0 I keep reading more and more comments about overpopulation on the social media. It is not just an impression: the trend of increasing interest in population matters is visible in Google Trends. Still weak, but it is there. It is puzzling how the question is returning. It had disappeared from the media after it had been popular in the 1970s, at[Read More…] July 4, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Eight insights based on December 2017 energy data BP recently published energy data through December 31, 2017, in its Statistical Review of World Energy 2018. The following are a few points we observe, looking at the data: [1] The world is making limited progress toward moving away from fossil fuels. The two bands that top fossil fuels that are relatively easy to see are nuclear electric power and hydroelectricity. Solar,[Read More…] June 23, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Come Here If You Need To Do So As You’re Welcomed! I’m going to lay it out straight because I get worried. … I have no idea about the degree that this following assessment regarding India is accurate or not. I don’t know much about India details. So I am neither agreeing with nor disagreeing with this evaluation. However, I do know this: We are a socialist democracy state in MA.[Read More…] June 13, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Exponential Growth Towards a Sustainable Future: the Limits of Solar Panel and Wind Turbine Production Many people, including myself, fear that the great acceleration (1, 2) of our consumption and destruction of resources such as land, biodiversity, soil, minerals, and fossil energy sources, could lead us into a catastrophe. Other people point out the positive side of near-exponential growth in various fields: renewable energy production, “biotechnology and bioinformatics; computational systems; networks and sensors; artificial intelligence; robotics;[Read More…] June 9, 2018 ## Train Galore! Every night I hear trains, which are pulling stuff into Boston city, MA, USA. Oh wow, it’s amazing. Some of the engines are pulling more than a hundred cars. Clickity-clack again and again for a long amount of time! Then the next train comes with the same sounds. I try to imagine about what is on their cars: drugs,[Read More…] June 4, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Our Energy Problem Is a Quantity Problem Reading many of today’s energy articles, it is easy to get the impression that our energy problem is a quality problem—some energy is polluting; other energy is hoped to be less polluting. There is a different issue that we are not being told about. It is the fact that having enough energy is terribly important, as well. Total world energy consumption has risen quickly[Read More…] May 31, 2018 Resource Crisis ## The Time of the Great Slaughter: the Seneca Cliff of Rabbit Island Little rabbits, little rabbits, come to me and hear this story. I can tell it to you because I am the oldest rabbit of all the island and I have heard it by rabbits older than me, who heard it from rabbits older than them. And so, this is the story of the island where we live, that we call[Read More…] May 26, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Five Things You Should Know About Collapse The Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca was perhaps the first in history to identify and discuss collapse and to note that “the way to ruin is rapid.” From Seneca’s idea, Ugo Bardi coined the term “Seneca Effect” to describe all cases where things go bad fast and used the modern science of complex systems to understand why and how collapses[Read More…] May 16, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Systemic Change Driven by Moral Awakening Is Our Only Hope Our core ecological problem is not climate change. It is overshoot, of which global warming is a symptom. Overshoot is a systemic issue. Over the past century-and-a-half, enormous amounts of cheap energy from fossil fuels enabled the rapid growth of resource extraction, manufacturing and consumption; and these in turn led to population increase, pollution and loss of natural habitat and hence biodiversity.[Read More…] May 16, 2018 Resource Crisis ## The road to the Seneca Cliff is paved with evil intentions. How to destroy the world’s forests The oldest stories of human lore have to do with cutting trees and with the disasters that followed as a consequence. Above, Legendary Sumerian heroes Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill the guardian of the trees, Huwawa (image source). Several thousand years afterward, we don’t seem to have learned much about how to manage our natural resources. I expected this to happen, perhaps not[Read More…] April 24, 2018 ## Overpopulation Leading Into Other Troubles Co-Written by Sally Dugman and Steve Salmony Steve Salmony thinks: The number of human beings on Earth was 2+ billion in the year of my birth (1945). In all of recorded human history there is no evidence to indicate that the human population was ever larger than it was then. Hundreds of thousands of years passed by without an incredible[Read More…] April 19, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Saving the World: Top-Down or Bottom-Up? A Review of the Latest Report to the Club of Rome, “Come On” Nearly half a century has passed since the publication, in 1972, of the first – and still the most famous – report of the Club of Rome, “The Limits to Growth.” That first report was heavily criticized but, nowadays, it is turning out that it had correctly identified the main lines of the trajectory that the human industrial society was[Read More…] April 19, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Why the Standard Model of Future Energy Supply Doesn’t Work The most prevalent view regarding future oil supply, as well as total energy supply, seems to be fairly closely related to that expressed by Peak Oilers. Future fossil fuel supply is assumed to be determined by the resources in the ground and the technology available for extraction. Prices are assumed to rise as fossil fuels are depleted, allowing more expensive[Read More…] April 5, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Global Challenges One voice from the wilderness is too weak to be listened to. My voice, for example, is not clear enough, strong enough, loud enough or adequately established so as to be heard. How can any person in a position of influence among our most wealthy and powerful leaders possibly be expected to receive a ‘best available science message’ until we[Read More…] March 27, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Our Latest Oil Predicament It is impossible to tell the whole oil story, but perhaps I can offer a few insights regarding where we are today. [1] We already seem to be back to the falling oil prices and refilling storage tanks scenario. US crude oil stocks hit their low point on January 19, 2018 and have started to rise again. The amount of crude oil fill[Read More…] March 14, 2018 Resource Crisis ## Two ‘Clinical’ Perspectives On Humanity’s Ailment Let us examine the human-induced global predicament from different ‘clinical’ perspectives. The first one invites you to recall J. D. Salinger’s book, Catcher in the Rye (1951). Imagine you are a clinician and your purpose in life is to be ‘a catcher in the rye.’ Your work is saving lives in the face of death. That is what you do.[Read More…] March 14, 2018 Resource Crisis ## A Proposal for a United Nations Framework Convention on Population Growth Introduction Recently, an international assembly of scientists from 184 countries endorsed an article published in the journal Bioscience entitled “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice”. As the warning states, “We are jeopardizing our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption and by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many[Read More…] March 1, 2018 Resource Crisis ## How Donald Trump Plans to Enlist Fossil Fuels in the Struggle for Global Dominance The new U.S. energy policy of the Trump era is, in some ways, the oldest energy policy on Earth. Every great power has sought to mobilize the energy resources at its command, whether those be slaves, wind-power, coal, or oil, to further its hegemonic ambitions. What makes the Trumpian variant — the unfettered exploitation of America’s fossil-fuel reserves — unique[Read More…] February 12, 2018 ## The Human Population: Accepting Earth’s Limitations I thank Fowler and Hobbs for their letter (2004) and their research (2003). The view that a complexity of factors impacts human population growth certainly makes sense, and they have correctly pointed out that scientifically organized efforts to deal with human problems must take account of manifold interconnected events. Although it is necessary to recognize and acknowledge the complexities inherent[Read More…] February 6, 2018 Resource Crisis ## The Last Oil: Gathering to Resist Trump’s Reckless Arctic Energy Policy The Last Oil is not a warning that we are running out of oil. On the contrary, there is so much oil — and gas and coal and other unconventional fossil fuels like tar sands and methane hydrates — that if we continue to dig up and burn all these fuel sources, we will push the Earth’s climate toward a runaway[Read More…] January 15, 2018 ## Collapsing Systems: What Empires And Avalanches Have In Common The Italian chemistry professor Ugo Bardi has written a book about the Seneca effect. He refers to the abrupt collapse of systems: observed in avalanches and balloons, but also in financial market bubbles and powerful empires. By Jantje Hannover When a balloon bursts or an avalanche takes place, it is a network structure that suddenly reorganizes. (image stock & people /[Read More…] January 13, 2018 ## Will The World Economy Continue To “Roll Along” In 2018? Once upon a time, we worried about oil and other energy. Now, a song from 1930 seems to be appropriate: Today, we have a surplus of oil, which we are trying to use up. That never happened before, or did it? Well, actually, it did, back around 1930. As most of us remember, that was not a pleasant time. It[Read More…] January 10, 2018 Resource Crisis ## The Seneca Cliff Explained: A Three Dimensional Collapse Overview Model A Three Dimensional Collapse Overview Model The Limits to Growth was published in 1972 by a group of world class scientists using the best mathematical computer modelling available at the time. It projected the future collapse of global industrial civilisation in the 21st century if humanity did not curb its population, consumption and pollution. It was pilloried by many “infinite growth on a[Read More…] December 7, 2017 Resource Crisis ## A Religion Called Economy The idea that religions are giving way to a more advanced human level of existence is part of common knowledge. Science and technology are emancipating humankind from mythical and religious discourses under the effect of the belief that only rationality should guide us. Reason has replaced the old God. Nietzsche, more than a century ago, warned that God was dead[Read More…] December 4, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Conflicts Over Resources Small scale and massive resource fights are totally understandable while predictable. They’ve been transpiring for millennia because practically everything alive needs to steal energy, directly or indirectly, from something or someone else to continue to exist. This transfer of energy, usually, involves killing. Imagine this happening on the African plains, for instance. There a leopard trounces on a gazelle. Sometimes[Read More…] November 26, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Saudis And Trump: Gambling Bigly “My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel.” – Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, first Prime Minister of United Arab Emirates Try this simple mental exercise. Imagine a hypothetical Middle Eastern monarchy in which: Virtually[Read More…] November 18, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Preparing For The Future One of my friends of ten years wrote, “The question of our time is this: Have we now moved past a critical fork in our evolutionary road and will this lead to our extinction? Many scientists today are saying that the answer is YES.” “No” is my opinion as there will probably be small pockets of people in climate okay[Read More…] November 17, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Are You Ready For A New Round Of Mass Exterminations? In this sobering exclusive analysis for INSURGE, Professor Ugo Bardi dissects historical statistics on war to unpick the patterns of violence of the past and uncover what this says about the present — and our coming future. He warns that statistical data suggests we are on the brink of heading into another round of major wars resulting, potentially, in mass deaths on a[Read More…] November 13, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Will China Bring An Energy-Debt Crisis? It is easy for those of us in the West to overlook how important China has become to the world economy, and also the limits it is reaching. The two big areas in which China seems to be reaching limits are energy production and debt. Reaching either of these limits could eventually cause a collapse. China is reaching energy production limits in a[Read More…] November 9, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Devolution Everywhere: Spain, Italy, Britain And The Problems Of Complexity The narrative about Catalan independence is that two major cities, Madrid and Barcelona, are competing for power, and one has decided that the best path forward is to declare independence from Spain and free itself of Madrid’s dominance. There is certainly something to this narrative. As CNN reports: Catalonia accounts for nearly a fifth of Spain’s economy, and leads all regions[Read More…] October 30, 2017 Resource Crisis ## The Approaching US Energy-Economic Crisis I was recently asked to give a talk called, “The Approaching US Energy-Economic Crisis.” In other words, how might the United States encounter problems that lead to a crisis? As we will see, many of the problems that could lead to a crisis (such as increased wage disparity and difficulty in collecting enough taxes) are issues that we are already beginning[Read More…] October 20, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Why political correctness fails – Why what we know ‘for sure’ is wrong (Ex Religion) Most of us are familiar with the Politically Correct (PC) World View. William Deresiewicz describes the view, which he calls the “religion of success,” as follows: There is a right way to think and a right way to talk, and also a right set of things to think and talk about. Secularism is taken for granted. Environmentalism is a sacred cause. Issues[Read More…] October 3, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Energy And Authoritarianism Could declining world energy result in a turn toward authoritarianism by governments around the world? As we will see, there is no simple answer that applies to all countries. However, pursuing the question leads us on an illuminating journey through the labyrinth of relations between energy, economics, and politics. The International Energy Agency and the Energy Information Administration (part of[Read More…] September 27, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Why Oil Prices Can’t Bounce Very High; Expect Deflation Instead Economists have given us a model of how prices and quantities of goods are supposed to interact. Figure 1. From Wikipedia: The price P of a product is determined by a balance between production at each price (supply S) and the desires of those with purchasing power at each price (demand D). The diagram shows a positive shift in demand[Read More…] September 12, 2017 Resource Crisis ## What Fuels Civil War? Energy And The Rise Of Fascism History, as we all know, may not repeat itself, but it surely rhymes. So, the theme of a civil war and of a return of Fascism is much discussed in the US nowadays. What kind of rhymes with past events can we perceive? On this point, I can propose to re-examine how Fascism took over in Italy, in the early[Read More…] August 24, 2017 Resource Crisis ## There is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, For Humans On 28th July, I posted an essay of mine entitled The Global Crisis and Role of So-called Renewable Energies in Solving It on this blog-site (see below). It had been published a few days earlier in the online magazine Insurge-Intelligence as a contribution to a symposium on renewable energies (https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/how-clean-is-clean-energy-why-renewables-cannot-solve-the-global-crisis-10205baeb781). Several readers responded to it with comments, both positive and negative. Prof. Mark Diesendorf, another[Read More…] August 22, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Why Climate Change Isn’t Our Biggest Environmental Problem, And Why Technology Won’t Save Us Our core ecological problem is not climate change. It is overshoot, of which global warming is a symptom. Overshoot is a systemic issue. Over the past century-and-a-half, enormous amounts of cheap energy from fossil fuels enabled the rapid growth of resource extraction, manufacturing, and consumption; and these in turn led to population increase, pollution, and loss of natural habitat and[Read More…] August 19, 2017 Resource Crisis ## World GDP In Current US Dollars Seems To Have Peaked; This Is A Problem World GDP in current US dollars is in some sense the simplest world GDP calculation that a person might make. It is calculated by taking the GDP for each year for each country in the local currency (for example, yen) and converting these GDP amounts to US dollars using the then-current relativity between the local currency and the US dollar.[Read More…] August 16, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Which EROI Do We Need To Collect Berries? The question of EROI – the energy return on energy invested – is raging nowadays, with some people insisting that a civilization cannot exist without an EROI of at least variously estimated values, at least 10 and higher . And that is said to mean we absolutely need sophisticated technologies, such as nuclear, in order to survive. Yet, this morning I[Read More…] August 16, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Priceless! For starters, I needed housing during my stay for a week to visit my daughter in PA from my home in MA, USA while she carried out her undergraduate education southward of me. So my daughter looked for a cheap motel for me. It turns out that it was a welfare motel, a place where low income people live, something[Read More…] August 7, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Staving Off The Coming Global Collapse ‘Overshoot’ is when a species uses resources faster than can be replenished. We’re already there. And show no signs of changing. Humans have a virtually unlimited capacity for self-delusion, even when self-preservation is at stake. The scariest example is the simplistic, growth-oriented, market-based economic thinking that is all but running the world today. Prevailing neoliberal economic models make no useful[Read More…] July 24, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Mining The Asteroids: How Desperate Can We Become? It seems that, when we are in trouble, we tend to revert to our childhood memories, seen as happy times that, somehow, could return. That may explain why President Trump is dreaming of an impossible return to coal. He may see the idea through his memories of childhood as a time of happy miners and prosperous families. Some others, instead,[Read More…] July 21, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Perils Of Overpopulation The Guardian,UK. had a suggestion for the battle against climate change“Want to fight climate change.Have fewer children .” This was known already & yet, since this has been extensively researched in a scientific fashion, this makes for a few headlines. And yet, will it make us, the humans ( ? ! ) any wiser ? Highly doubtful..Weare depleting natural resources[Read More…] July 19, 2017 Resource Crisis ## What Can Governments Hide From Us? Lessons From WWII Governments are not known to be benevolent organizations. On the contrary, when it is question of ensuring their own survival, they are ruthless. And they are well known to lie to people. The case of the “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq is well known but, at least, eventually it became clear that it was a lie: these weapons didn’t[Read More…] July 8, 2017 Resource Crisis ## The Next Financial Crisis Is Not Far Away Recently, a Spanish group called “Ecologist in Action” asked me to give them a presentation on what kind of financial crisis we should expect. They wanted to know when it would be and how it would take place. The answer I had for the group is that we should expect financial collapse quite soon–perhaps as soon as the next few[Read More…] July 3, 2017 Resource Crisis ## After Peak Oil, Are We Heading Toward Social Collapse? Several years ago, Glen Sweetnam, director of the International, Economic and Greenhouse Gas division of the Energy Information Administration at the Department of Energy (DOE), announced that worldwide oil availability had reached a “plateau.” However, his statement was not made known through a major US mainstream media outlet. Instead, it was covered in France’s Le Monde. One could assume[Read More…] July 1, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Falling Interest Rates Have Postponed “Peak Oil” Falling interest rates have huge power. My background is as an actuary, so I am very much aware of the great power of interest rates. But a lot of people are not aware of this power, including, I suspect, some of the people making today’s decisions to raise interest rates. Similar people want to sell securities now being held by[Read More…] June 12, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Climate, Fossil Fuels, Resources And All That This interview was recorded this February and is reported here from the site of the European Project MEDEAS, only minimally edited. Take into account that none of the people involved (interviewers and interviewed) are native English speakers and you can understand why the grammar and the syntax are, well, let’s just say “not perfect”. Then, as in all non-edited interviews, the[Read More…] June 8, 2017 Resource Crisis ## A Litmus Test For Academia Of the issues which are totally ignored, for all practical purposes, there’s one that we can spotlight here which — if not addressed post haste — stands to take us over the precipice. That is that if we want to protect our environment , we must talk about population size and growth and actually do something about it. May 30, 2017 Resource Crisis ## “Peak Hats.” Social Change And The Coming Demise of Private Cars For a long time, hats were oversized and expensive status symbols more than tools for protecting people’s heads. During the past half century or so, they have nearly disappeared. A similar destiny may befall on private cars, also oversized and expensive status symbols rather than tools for transporting people. With the disappearance of cars, we may see hats coming back. [Read More…] May 21, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Make The Anthill Great Again! The Ant Colony And The Human Ones Image above: the 1998 movie “AntZ”. This post was inspired by a post by Antonio Turiel titled “Of Ants and Men” where he used the example of an ant to discuss the difficulties that humans have to perceive the real problems facing humankind today. Here, I examine again, a little more in depth, the same issue. Imagine yourself as an[Read More…] May 16, 2017 Resource Crisis ## The Apple And The Ant Antonio Turiel keeps what I think is one of the best blogs in the world (perhaps the best) dedicated to energy and fossil fuels: The Oil Crash. Too bad that, despite the title, the blog is written in Spanish. But if you can read Spanish or are willing to spend some time to decipher a Google translation, then you can truly[Read More…] May 12, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Why We Should Be Concerned About Low Oil Prices Most people assume that oil prices, and for that matter other energy prices, will rise as we reach limits. This isn’t really the way the system works; oil prices can be expected to fall too low, as we reach limits. Thus, we should not be surprised if the OPEC/Russia agreement to limit oil extraction falls apart, and oil prices fall[Read More…] May 5, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Why Energy-Economy Models Produce Overly Optimistic Indications I was asked to give a talk to a committee of actuaries who are concerned about modeling the financial future of programs, such as pension plans, given the energy problems that are often discussed. They (and the consultants that they hire) have been using an approach that puts problems far off into the future. I was trying to explain why[Read More…] March 30, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Moving Successfully Towards Future Improvements In A Distressed World In my view, there is no major significant difference between legal, illegal or other immigrants (i.e., those with Visa or Green Card status) coming from out-of-state into my region. Indeed, I would be willing to endure the hard trek into the USA from a southern country if I lived in a region wherein there were drug cartels, no jobs, little[Read More…] January 23, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Amelie The Amoeba: How Things Grow This academic year, I gave a lesson on the growth mechanism of complex systems. It is a fascinating subject that can be applied to several fields, from biology to economics. Since the students I was talking to were not specializing in complex systems (they were students of geology), I used a light tone and used “Amelie the Amoeba” an image[Read More…] January 18, 2017 Resource Crisis ## 2017: The Year When The World Economy Starts Coming Apart Some people would argue that 2016 was the year that the world economy started to come apart, with the passage of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Whether or not the “coming apart” process started in 2016, in my opinion we are going to see many more steps in this direction in 2017. Let me explain a few of[Read More…] January 11, 2017 Resource Crisis ## Scarce Minerals Are Running Out: Mining Quotas Are Needed To ensure that sufficient zinc, molybdenum and antimony are available for our greatgrandchildren’s generation, we need an international mineral resources agreement. Molybdenum is essential for the manufacture of high-grade stainless steels, but at present molybdenum is hardly recycled. Yet unless reuse of molybdenum is dramatically increased, the extractable reserves of molybdenum on Earth will run out in about eighty[Read More…] January 5, 2017 Resource Crisis ## John Glenn (1921-2016): The End Of An Era John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth, in 1962. It was the start of the adventure that led to the lunar landing in 1969; only seven years later. It was an age of enthusiasm and of great expectations; a time that, today, looks remote. The conquest of space may have been made possible by the high energy[Read More…] December 10, 2016 ## What Has Gone Wrong With Oil Prices, Debt, And GDP Growth? Our economy is a mystery to almost everyone, including economists. Let me explain the way I see the situation: (1) The big thing that pulls the economy forward is the time-shifting nature of debt and debt-like instruments. If we want any kind of specialization, we need some sort of long-term obligation that will make that specialization worthwhile. If one hunter-gatherer[Read More…] December 9, 2016 Resource Crisis ## Peak Oil In A Fact-Free World: The New “Oil Bonanza” In West Texas So, the USGS comes out with a press release that the media immediately diffuse in terms of a great discovery: 20 billion barrels, somewhere in Texas in a place called “Wolfcamp”. Bloomberg multiplies the number by the current oil price and comes up with a title that reads: “A$900 billion Oil Treasure,” for a piece that tells of “bonanza”[Read More…]

December 1, 2016 Resource Crisis

## Peak Oil By Any Other Name Is Still Peak Oil

One of the most compelling charts I have ever seen is the “Growing Gap” chart that used to appear in every ASPO Newsletter. This is the one from the last ASPO Newsletter, written by Colin Campbell and published in April 2009. Since then, more than seven years have passed, and peak oil has disappeared from the mainstream press headlines–almost. On[Read More…]

December 1, 2016 Resource Crisis

## Tiffany’s Fallacy: The Mineral Pie Is Shrinking, And Most Of What’s Left Is In The Sky

In the debates that deal with energy and fossil fuels, it is rather common to read or hear statements such as “oil will last for 50 years at the current rate of production.” You can also hear that “we still have one thousand years of coal” (Donald Trump stated exactly that during the US presidential campaign of 2016). When these[Read More…]

November 29, 2016 Resource Crisis

## Why Energy Prices Are Ultimately Headed Lower; What The IMF Missed

We have been hearing a great deal about IMF concerns recently, after the release of itsOctober 2016 World Economic Outlook and its Annual Meeting October 7-9. The concerns mentioned include the following: Too much growth in debt, with China particularly mentioned as a problem World economic growth seems to have slowed on a long-term basis Central bank intervention required to produce[Read More…]

October 13, 2016 Resource Crisis

## Transforming Global Resources Into Commons

The greatest problem of our time is that for centuries we have been steadily weaned away from treating our common resources responsibly and carefully so that they can either regenerate or be repaired or replaced after use. Until the Middle Ages local resources such as pastures, woods and fishing waters were really handled that way. But since the 16th century,[Read More…]

October 4, 2016

## ‘Gandhi Was Perfectly Sensible To Call Industrial Civilisation “A Nine Days Wonder”’

Ecological economist, Gandhian thinker and author Mark Lindley has some stark warnings for the future of hi-tech societies, and a few ‘prescriptions’ for India and for economists, who he says vastly underestimate the gravity of the looming environmental crises. Ecologise and Graama Seva Sangha recently organised a lecture series by Lindley in Bangalore.

September 23, 2016 Resource Crisis

## What Really Causes Falling Productivity Growth:An Energy-Based Explanation

What really causes falling productivity growth? The answer seems to be very much energy-related. Human labor by itself does not cause productivity growth. It is human labor, leveraged by various tools, that leads to productivity growth. These tools are made using energy, and they often use energy to operate. A decrease in energy consumption by the business sector can be[Read More…]

September 21, 2016 Resource Crisis

## An Asteroid Called “Peak Oil” – The Real Cause Of The Growing Social Inequality In The US

In a recent article on the Huffington Post, Stan Sorscher reports the graph above and asks the question of what could have happened in the early 1970s that changed everything. Impressive, but what caused this “something” that happened in the early 1970s? According to Sorscher, X marks the spot. In this case, “X” is our choice of national values. We[Read More…]

September 15, 2016 Resource Crisis

## Fossil Fuels: At What Price?

We often read comparisons between the prices of solar energy or wind energy with the prices of fossil fuels. It is encouraging to see that renewables are rapidly becoming competitive, and are often cheaper than coal or oil. In fact, if coal, oil and natural gas were given their correct prices renewables would be recognized as being incomparably cheaper than[Read More…]

September 7, 2016 Resource Crisis

## An Updated Version Of The “Peak Oil” Story

The Peak Oil story got some things right. Back in 1998, Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrère wrote an article published in Scientific American called, “The End of Cheap Oil.” In it they said: Our analysis of the discovery and production of oil fields around the world suggests that within the next decade, the supply of conventional oil will be unable to keep[Read More…]

August 9, 2016 Resource Crisis

## “You Can’t Handle The Truth!”

Movie buffs will recognize this title as the most memorable line from “A Few Good Men” (1992), spoken by the character Colonel Jessep, played by Jack Nicholson (“You can’t handle the truth!” is #29 in the American Film Institute’s list of 100 top movie quotes). I hereby propose it as the subtext of the recently concluded Republican and Democratic national[Read More…]

August 2, 2016 Resource Crisis

## Depletion: If A Jellyfish Stings You, You Know Why

Just a few days ago, a friend of mine showed me three bright red stripes she had on her arm. It was the result of an unfortunate encounter with a jellyfish while swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. Today, it has become a normal occurrence; it seems to be normal that, when you swim in the sea, you have to maintain[Read More…]

August 1, 2016 Resource Crisis

## Overly Simple Energy-Economy Models Give Misleading Answers

Does it make a difference if our models of energy and the economy are overly simple? I would argue that it depends on what we plan to use the models for. If all we want to do is determine approximately how many years in the future energy supplies will turn down, then a simple model is perfectly sufficient. But if[Read More…]

July 26, 2016 Resource Crisis

## Poison In The Heart: The Nuclear Wasting Of South Australia

“Nuclear weapons and nuclear power are both leading instances of the irrationalities  that result from a social world that has been constructed to concentrate power  in the hands of tiny minorities, and to make it possible for them  to maintain and defend their power.”  Andrew Lichterman, 2012 “. . . because a few, by fate’s economy, shall seem to move[Read More…]

July 22, 2016 Resource Crisis

## Some reflections on the Twilight of the Oil Age (part III)

Our predicament, as we have just begun to slide down the fossil fuels thermodynamic cliff, similarly requires such a nexus if we are to succeed at a new “energy pool shift”. Just focusing on thermodynamics and technology won’t suffice. The kind of paradigm change I keep referring to integrates technology, social innovations and innovation concerning the human psyche about ways of avoiding cognitive failure. This is a lot to ask, however it is necessary to address Tainter’s questions

July 21, 2016 Resource Crisis

## Some Reflections On The Twilight Of The Oil Age (Part II)

I call the process we are in an “Oil Pearl Harbour”, taking place in a kind of eerie slow motion. This is no longer retrievable. Within roughly ten years the oil industry as we know it will have disintegrated. The GIW is presently defenceless in the face of this threat

July 16, 2016

## Some Reflections On The Twilight Of The Oil Age – part I

This three-part post was inspired by Ugo Bardi’s recent post concerning “Will Renewables Ever ReplaceFossils?” and recent discussions within Ugo’s discussion group on how is it that “Economists still don’t get it”?  It integrates also numerous discussion and exchanges I have had with colleagues and business partners over the last three years. Introduction Since at least the end of 2014[Read More…]

July 14, 2016

## What We Need To Do To Survive And Have A Good Life

We must assess the consequences of our lifestyle on the planet’s declining liveability, as we already have a rising chemical imbalance in the biosphere which impairs life’s ability to control its climate. Furthermore, we’re expecting  9 billion people within thirty odd years; this, in a world of depleting organic and inorganic resources, rising sea levels, and increasing temperatures, that will[Read More…]

July 13, 2016

## Energy Limits: Why We See Rising Wealth Disparity And Low Prices

Prices of oil, coal, and natural gas tend to rise and fall together–just as we would expect, if they are all responding to the same changes in debt levels, and indirectly, the same changes in world economic growth rates. If energy prices are based on debt levels, our concern should be that all fossil fuels will peak within a few years of each other. The cause of the peak will be low prices, not “running out” of energy products

July 6, 2016 Resource Crisis

## Oil, Interest Rates And Debt

The recent lower oil price predictably stimulates more consumption, but as more consumers will continue to struggle with their balance sheets, they are now more sensitive to considerable increases in the oil price. This creates for an interesting situation; the price a growing number of consumers find affordable may be lower than what the oil companies need to go after the costlier oil and retire their debts in an orderly way.

June 30, 2016 Resource Crisis

## Brexit And The Energy Equation

The fretting in the financial markets after Great Britain’s voters narrowly decided to leave the European Union (EU), a move dubbed Brexit, was less about immediate effects–there aren’t any since it would take Britain up to two years to withdraw–and more about a foreboding that other countries will want out, too. In addition, some think it likely that Scottish independence[Read More…]

June 27, 2016 Resource Crisis

## China: Is Peak Coal Part Of Its Problem?

The world’s coal resources are clearly huge. How could China, or the world in total, reach peak coal in a timeframe that makes a difference? If we look at China’s coal production and consumption in BP’s 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy (SRWE), this is what we see: Figure 1. China’s production and consumption of coal based on BP 2016 SRWE. Figure 2[Read More…]

June 20, 2016 Resource Crisis

## Demand Destruction And Peak Oil

We are fully under the influence of petroleum demand destruction. The global oil market can’t function without real oil production price discovery, which doesn’t exist in the currently deflationary global economy, which forces indebted producers to sell far below cost. Both supply and demand seem to cyclic in nature and we are not finished with the supply destruction phase, which[Read More…]

June 17, 2016 Resource Crisis

## The Real Oil Limits Story; What Other Researchers Missed

For a long time, a common assumption has been that the world will eventually “run out” of oil and other non-renewable resources. Instead, we seem to be running into surpluses and low prices. What is going on that was missed by M. King Hubbert, Harold Hotelling, and by the popular understanding of supply and demand? The underlying assumption in these[Read More…]

June 17, 2016 Resource Crisis

## The Physics Of Energy And The Economy

I approach the subject of the physics of energy and the economy with some trepidation. An economy seems to be a dissipative system, but what does this really mean? There are not many people who understand dissipative systems, and very few who understand how an economy operates. The combination leads to an awfully lot of false beliefs about the energy[Read More…]

June 17, 2016 Resource Crisis

## Why “Supply And Demand” Doesn’t Work For Oil

The traditional understanding of supply and demand works in some limited cases–will a manufacturer make red dresses or blue dresses? The manufacturer’s choice doesn’t make much difference to the economic system as a whole, except perhaps in the amount of red and blue dye sold, so it is easy to accommodate. Figure 1. From Wikipedia: The price P of a[Read More…]

June 17, 2016 Resource Crisis

## How Our Energy Problem Leads To A Debt Collapse Problem

Usually, we don’t stop to think about how the whole economy works together. A major reason is that we have been lacking data to see long-term relationships. In this post, I show some longer-term time series relating to energy growth, GDP growth, and debt growth–going back to 1820 in some cases–that help us understand our situation better. When examining these[Read More…]

June 17, 2016

## Oil And The Economy: Where Are We Headed In 2015-16?

The price of oil is down. How should we expect the economy to perform in 2015 and 2016? Newspapers in the United States seem to emphasize the positive aspects of the drop in prices. I have written Ten Reasons Why High Oil Prices are a Problem. If our only problem were high oil prices, then low oil prices would seem to[Read More…]

June 17, 2016 Resource Crisis