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Softpanorama Energy Bulletin, 2017

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[Dec 30, 2017] The Gas Fight Between Ukraine and Russia is Finally Settled - Who Really Won

The key here is whether Russia will stop transit of gas via Ukraine or not.
Notable quotes:
"... A more far-reaching result from the Stockholm proceedings was the intention to void the traditional (Gazprom) formula for gas prices which is based on a linkage to the price of oil. Instead, the price of gas will be tied directly to the spot gas market such as the European hub. ..."
"... In traditional Gazprom contracts, the price of gas depends on the price of oil, and only up to 15% of the price is a spot gas component. For decades, this contractual linkage of the price of gas to oil was largely accepted as being open and fair. ..."
"... the Stockholm arbitration declared that Naftogaz must honor their contract, and buy from Gazprom 5 billion cubic meters of gas annually. As it turns out the "take or pay" clause remains in force, but the volume has been significantly reduced. ..."
"... The irony is that while this is a loss of face for Kiev politically, economically it benefits the Ukrainian consumer. To date, Ukraine's purchases of "reverse gas" from Europe has been far more expensive than that which was contracted reliably over the years by Gazprom. ..."
Dec 30, 2017 | russia-insider.com

After 2014, Ukraine claimed that it was being overcharged, and therefore Naftogaz refused to pay Gazprom their contracted price for gas. Instead, it paid unilaterally a different amount that it subjectively considered "fair."

Gazprom, in keeping with mutually contracted terms and conditions, could only issue an invoice for the resulting underpayment, and after Naftogaz still refused to pay (a debt of approx. $2 billion), made any further deliveries of gas contingent on prepayment.

The arbitration additionally upheld Gazprom's position and denied Naftogaz any right to a refund for gas priced between May 2011 and April 2014 or collect any of the claimed "overcharged gas" totaling approximately $14 billion for that period. In sum, the price Kiev claimed was "inflated" was judged as in Stockholm as baseless.

Therefore, the question of who is accountable and responsible for settling debt has been clarified in Stockholm. Naftogaz must pay Gazprom $2 billion plus a fine calculated at 0.03% per day for each day this debt remains unpaid. This fine has already reached $3 million since the court decision on December 22nd, and if it not paid can reach an annualized figure of $216 million and still keep growing daily.

Like any political and economic story, there is quite a bit that does not make the flashy headlines, but plays a role in contributing to the noise surrounding an issue. Naftogaz takes satisfaction in that the settlement allowed that the gas price for the second quarter of 2014 was to be reduced from $485 to $352 per 1000 cubic meters, or 27%, thereby "saving" Ukraine about $ 1.8 billion for 2014-2015. The price of $485 was in fact fixed for that one quarter, and it was higher than the market price. The reason was that the March referendum and subsequent reunification of Crimea within the Russian Federation happened then. Up until that time, Russia had given Ukraine a discount of $100 per one thousand cubic meters of gas as payment for renting the Crimean base for the Black Sea fleet. The Kharkov treaty with Ukraine which dealt with the naval base was therefore canceled, as Crimea was once again Russia. Without this discount, the price increased by that same discounted $100 in the contracted quarterly price fix.

Key is Stockholm's recognition that the Russian gas price for Ukraine in 2011-2014 was fair, which is much more important than the price fixed in that second quarter in question. It is worth noting in the next third quarter of 2014 Gazprom was prepared to provide Ukraine with a market price for gas again. However, as we all know today, since June 2014 Naftogaz has refused to buy gas from Russia for political reasons and calling it an "aggressor nation."

A more far-reaching result from the Stockholm proceedings was the intention to void the traditional (Gazprom) formula for gas prices which is based on a linkage to the price of oil. Instead, the price of gas will be tied directly to the spot gas market such as the European hub. Should this occur, then the future gas price for Ukraine will be linked to the cost of fuel in the European hub. This would be a major departure from the traditional pricing Gazprom has used for decades, and might set a precedent for other buyers of Russian gas, who might also want to change their price formulation. In traditional Gazprom contracts, the price of gas depends on the price of oil, and only up to 15% of the price is a spot gas component. For decades, this contractual linkage of the price of gas to oil was largely accepted as being open and fair.

Since 2014, Ukraine has been buying reverse gas from Europe at such European spot hub prices, and it has so far been more expensive than the traditional Gazprom contract. It is also worth noting that spot prices are far more volatile, are seasonally demand-affected, and as winter is a peak consumption season the prices can and do increase dramatically.

Why did Gazprom take their initial large claims to court knowing beforehand that it would be impossible to get the tens of billions of dollars from Naftogaz or Ukraine without ruining both through default? The first reason is that a "take or pay" clause was a key and mutually agreed covenant of the contractual relationship, not a point to be discarded unilaterally by any single party. The second reason was as a response to Naftogaz multi-billion lawsuit on the transit of gas from Russia through Ukraine to Europe. The Ukrainian side believes that Gazprom should pay them extra for not sending 110 billion cubic meters of gas through pipelines annually across Ukraine. In the transit contract, there is no obligation for any such volumes to be transited through Ukraine's pipelines.

To sum up this drama, the Stockholm arbitration declared that Naftogaz must honor their contract, and buy from Gazprom 5 billion cubic meters of gas annually. As it turns out the "take or pay" clause remains in force, but the volume has been significantly reduced. How this volume of 5 billion cubic meters was arrived at remains a mystery, but one which will surely become clear over time. The political spin, however, will be interesting to observe since Ukraine must now buy (and pay for) this Russian gas. How will Kiev explain now having to buy Russian gas when since 2014 it stridently proclaimed it shall never buy fuel from "that aggressor nation."

The irony is that while this is a loss of face for Kiev politically, economically it benefits the Ukrainian consumer. To date, Ukraine's purchases of "reverse gas" from Europe has been far more expensive than that which was contracted reliably over the years by Gazprom. Now Kiev will have to find the funds to pay for Gazprom's gas, settle their debt and ever-growing fines, plus meet the rest of their energy needs by purchasing expensive reverse gas from Europe. It will take spin that is a lot more imaginative from Kiev to package this settlement into a believable political victory, and very creative accounting to get the money to pay for it.

[Dec 30, 2017] The Gas Fight Between Ukraine and Russia is Finally Settled - Who Really Won

The key here is whether Russia will stop transit of gas via Ukraine or not.
Notable quotes:
"... A more far-reaching result from the Stockholm proceedings was the intention to void the traditional (Gazprom) formula for gas prices which is based on a linkage to the price of oil. Instead, the price of gas will be tied directly to the spot gas market such as the European hub. ..."
"... In traditional Gazprom contracts, the price of gas depends on the price of oil, and only up to 15% of the price is a spot gas component. For decades, this contractual linkage of the price of gas to oil was largely accepted as being open and fair. ..."
"... the Stockholm arbitration declared that Naftogaz must honor their contract, and buy from Gazprom 5 billion cubic meters of gas annually. As it turns out the "take or pay" clause remains in force, but the volume has been significantly reduced. ..."
"... The irony is that while this is a loss of face for Kiev politically, economically it benefits the Ukrainian consumer. To date, Ukraine's purchases of "reverse gas" from Europe has been far more expensive than that which was contracted reliably over the years by Gazprom. ..."
Dec 30, 2017 | russia-insider.com

After 2014, Ukraine claimed that it was being overcharged, and therefore Naftogaz refused to pay Gazprom their contracted price for gas. Instead, it paid unilaterally a different amount that it subjectively considered "fair."

Gazprom, in keeping with mutually contracted terms and conditions, could only issue an invoice for the resulting underpayment, and after Naftogaz still refused to pay (a debt of approx. $2 billion), made any further deliveries of gas contingent on prepayment.

The arbitration additionally upheld Gazprom's position and denied Naftogaz any right to a refund for gas priced between May 2011 and April 2014 or collect any of the claimed "overcharged gas" totaling approximately $14 billion for that period. In sum, the price Kiev claimed was "inflated" was judged as in Stockholm as baseless.

Therefore, the question of who is accountable and responsible for settling debt has been clarified in Stockholm. Naftogaz must pay Gazprom $2 billion plus a fine calculated at 0.03% per day for each day this debt remains unpaid. This fine has already reached $3 million since the court decision on December 22nd, and if it not paid can reach an annualized figure of $216 million and still keep growing daily.

Like any political and economic story, there is quite a bit that does not make the flashy headlines, but plays a role in contributing to the noise surrounding an issue. Naftogaz takes satisfaction in that the settlement allowed that the gas price for the second quarter of 2014 was to be reduced from $485 to $352 per 1000 cubic meters, or 27%, thereby "saving" Ukraine about $ 1.8 billion for 2014-2015. The price of $485 was in fact fixed for that one quarter, and it was higher than the market price. The reason was that the March referendum and subsequent reunification of Crimea within the Russian Federation happened then. Up until that time, Russia had given Ukraine a discount of $100 per one thousand cubic meters of gas as payment for renting the Crimean base for the Black Sea fleet. The Kharkov treaty with Ukraine which dealt with the naval base was therefore canceled, as Crimea was once again Russia. Without this discount, the price increased by that same discounted $100 in the contracted quarterly price fix.

Key is Stockholm's recognition that the Russian gas price for Ukraine in 2011-2014 was fair, which is much more important than the price fixed in that second quarter in question. It is worth noting in the next third quarter of 2014 Gazprom was prepared to provide Ukraine with a market price for gas again. However, as we all know today, since June 2014 Naftogaz has refused to buy gas from Russia for political reasons and calling it an "aggressor nation."

A more far-reaching result from the Stockholm proceedings was the intention to void the traditional (Gazprom) formula for gas prices which is based on a linkage to the price of oil. Instead, the price of gas will be tied directly to the spot gas market such as the European hub. Should this occur, then the future gas price for Ukraine will be linked to the cost of fuel in the European hub. This would be a major departure from the traditional pricing Gazprom has used for decades, and might set a precedent for other buyers of Russian gas, who might also want to change their price formulation. In traditional Gazprom contracts, the price of gas depends on the price of oil, and only up to 15% of the price is a spot gas component. For decades, this contractual linkage of the price of gas to oil was largely accepted as being open and fair.

Since 2014, Ukraine has been buying reverse gas from Europe at such European spot hub prices, and it has so far been more expensive than the traditional Gazprom contract. It is also worth noting that spot prices are far more volatile, are seasonally demand-affected, and as winter is a peak consumption season the prices can and do increase dramatically.

Why did Gazprom take their initial large claims to court knowing beforehand that it would be impossible to get the tens of billions of dollars from Naftogaz or Ukraine without ruining both through default? The first reason is that a "take or pay" clause was a key and mutually agreed covenant of the contractual relationship, not a point to be discarded unilaterally by any single party. The second reason was as a response to Naftogaz multi-billion lawsuit on the transit of gas from Russia through Ukraine to Europe. The Ukrainian side believes that Gazprom should pay them extra for not sending 110 billion cubic meters of gas through pipelines annually across Ukraine. In the transit contract, there is no obligation for any such volumes to be transited through Ukraine's pipelines.

To sum up this drama, the Stockholm arbitration declared that Naftogaz must honor their contract, and buy from Gazprom 5 billion cubic meters of gas annually. As it turns out the "take or pay" clause remains in force, but the volume has been significantly reduced. How this volume of 5 billion cubic meters was arrived at remains a mystery, but one which will surely become clear over time. The political spin, however, will be interesting to observe since Ukraine must now buy (and pay for) this Russian gas. How will Kiev explain now having to buy Russian gas when since 2014 it stridently proclaimed it shall never buy fuel from "that aggressor nation."

The irony is that while this is a loss of face for Kiev politically, economically it benefits the Ukrainian consumer. To date, Ukraine's purchases of "reverse gas" from Europe has been far more expensive than that which was contracted reliably over the years by Gazprom. Now Kiev will have to find the funds to pay for Gazprom's gas, settle their debt and ever-growing fines, plus meet the rest of their energy needs by purchasing expensive reverse gas from Europe. It will take spin that is a lot more imaginative from Kiev to package this settlement into a believable political victory, and very creative accounting to get the money to pay for it.

[Dec 26, 2017] BotCoin: Bitcoins are pure speculative assets which enable people to gamble. by Robert Waldmann

Notable quotes:
"... They have behaved badly with an unstable value of bitcoin (huge unpredictable Bitcoin deflation damages any use of bitcoin as a means of exchange as much as huge inflation would). ..."
"... Now no one is really interested in cryptocurrency except as a way to gamble and take money from fools. But if anyone were, linking the blockchain program to prices on an exchange would make it more nearly possible to use the cryptocurrency as a means of exchange. ..."
"... The system is vulnerable to a tacit agreement to trade only on unofficial exchanges. It is necessary that the problem is also made easier if daily trading volume on the official exchange is zero. The problem is the price could shoot up on unofficial exchanges, but this would not affect the price on the official exchange if there were no transactions on the official exchange. ..."
"... The basis was and remains to remove any and all national gov'ts across he globe from any influences on values of currencies, thus pure laissez-faire in the extreme .. as you say libertarian chaos. ..."
"... There is a much more severe problem with bitcoin. As the number mined asymptotically approaches the pre-determined maximum, the cost of mining approaches infinity. As miners are the ones who validate coins, what will happen to the reliability of bitcoin when it becomes uneconomical for anyone to participate in mining? ..."
Dec 25, 2017 | angrybearblog.com

I am going to make a fool of myself by suggesting that a cryptocurrency might actually be useful. Bitcoin et al have negative social utility. They are pure speculative assets which enable people to gamble. Also bitcoin miners use as much electricity as Denmark. The problem is exactly the aspect which has made bitcoin famous and which bitcoin enthusiasts consider a strength -- the enormous increase in the dollar price of bitcoin. This increase, and the recent sharp decline, make bitcoin useless as a means of exchange. Most firms don't want to gamble.

So I (semi-seriously this time) propose botcoin which might have a more stable dollar exchange rate. The idea is to link the blockchain verification program to an official exchange.

Backing up, there are two very different sorts of web-servers related to bitcoin. One set, the bitcoin miners, implements the original idea using the Bitcoin shareware. They keep a copy of the ledger of all bitcoin transactions -- the blockchain, race to create new blocks, and evaluate new blocks and add valid new blocks to the chain. The other servers are bitcoin exchanges in which bitcoin is traded for regular currency. They are not part of the original plan in which bitcoin would be traded for goods and services and function as a means of exchange. They have behaved badly with an unstable value of bitcoin (huge unpredictable Bitcoin deflation damages any use of bitcoin as a means of exchange as much as huge inflation would).

I propose linking the blockchain program to an exchange. So there would be an official botcoin exchange (this means it isn't entirely free-entry shareware libertarian anarchism). If anyone were interested in a new cryptocurrency designed so that speculators can't become rich (and pigs fly) there would be other unofficial exchanges.

The bitcoin program regulates the frequency of creation of new blocks to roughly one every six minutes. It does this by adjusting the difficulty of the pointless arithmetic problem which must be solved to make a new valid block. The idea was to limit the total amount of bitcoin which will ever be created (to 21 million for some reason). This was supposed to make bitcoin valuable. So far it has succeeded all too well (I am confident that in the end bitcoin will have price 0).

It is possible to make the supply of botcoin flexible so the dollar price doesn't shoot up. I would aim at a price of, say, 1 botcoin = $1000. The idea is to make the pointless problem which must be solved to add a block easier if the dollar price of botcoin exceeds the target, and harder if it falls below the target. This should stabilize the price.

Now no one is really interested in cryptocurrency except as a way to gamble and take money from fools. But if anyone were, linking the blockchain program to prices on an exchange would make it more nearly possible to use the cryptocurrency as a means of exchange.

The system is vulnerable to a tacit agreement to trade only on unofficial exchanges. It is necessary that the problem is also made easier if daily trading volume on the official exchange is zero. The problem is the price could shoot up on unofficial exchanges, but this would not affect the price on the official exchange if there were no transactions on the official exchange.

Lyle , December 25, 2017 11:22 pm

Of course Goldman Sachs and its competitors are doing just this building an options and futures exchange. (it is not really that much different than any other futures and options business)

Longtooth , December 26, 2017 5:01 am

But Robert,

then the entire foundation for Bitcoin's purpose disappears entirely, so what advantage remains?

The basis was and remains to remove any and all national gov'ts across he globe from any influences on values of currencies, thus pure laissez-faire in the extreme .. as you say libertarian chaos.

By making crypto-currency values subject to national currency exchange rates they cease to have any reason to exist at all.

We / globally in fact already use crypto exchange via electronic transactions .. adding block chain to it would be a benefit but a separate cryptocurrency is a worthless redundancy if it is subject to valuation by exchange rates of national currencies.

What am I missing?.

likbez , December 26, 2017 5:27 am

Great Article !!! I wish I can write about this topic on the same level. Thank you very much. P.S. Happy New Year for everybody !

rick shapiro , December 26, 2017 10:26 am

There is a much more severe problem with bitcoin. As the number mined asymptotically approaches the pre-determined maximum, the cost of mining approaches infinity. As miners are the ones who validate coins, what will happen to the reliability of bitcoin when it becomes uneconomical for anyone to participate in mining?

[Dec 25, 2017] The Petro-Yuan Bombshell and Its Relation to the New US Security Doctrine

Notable quotes:
"... The new 55-page "America First" National Security Strategy (NSS), drafted over the course of 2017, defines Russia and China as "revisionist" powers, "rivals," and for all practical purposes strategic competitors of the United States. ..."
"... The NSS stops short of defining Russia and China as enemies, allowing for an "attempt to build a great partnership with those and other countries." Still, Beijing qualified it as "reckless" and "irrational." The Kremlin noted its "imperialist character" and "disregard for a multipolar world." Iran, predictably, is described by the NSS as "the world's most significant state sponsor of terrorism." ..."
Dec 25, 2017 | russia-insider.com

"Russia and China ... have concluded that pumping the US military budget by buying US bonds ... is an unsustainable proposition ..." Pepe Escobar 12,072 198

The new 55-page "America First" National Security Strategy (NSS), drafted over the course of 2017, defines Russia and China as "revisionist" powers, "rivals," and for all practical purposes strategic competitors of the United States.

The NSS stops short of defining Russia and China as enemies, allowing for an "attempt to build a great partnership with those and other countries." Still, Beijing qualified it as "reckless" and "irrational." The Kremlin noted its "imperialist character" and "disregard for a multipolar world." Iran, predictably, is described by the NSS as "the world's most significant state sponsor of terrorism."

Russia, China and Iran happen to be the three key movers and shakers in the ongoing geopolitical and geo-economic process of Eurasia integration.

The NSS can certainly be regarded as a response to what happened at the BRICS summit in Xiamen last September. Then, Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted on "the BRIC countries' concerns over the unfairness of the global financial and economic architecture which does not give due regard to the growing weight of the emerging economies," and stressed the need to "overcome the excessive domination of a limited number of reserve currencies."

That was a clear reference to the US dollar, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of total reserve currency around the world and remains the benchmark determining the price of energy and strategic raw materials.

And that brings us to the unnamed secret at the heart of the NSS; the Russia-China "threat" to the US dollar.

The CIPS/SWIFT face-off

The website of the China Foreign Exchange Trade System (CFETS) recently announced the establishment of a yuan-ruble payment system, hinting that similar systems regarding other currencies participating in the New Silk Roads, a.k.a. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will also be in place in the near future.

Crucially, this is not about reducing currency risk; after all Russia and China have increasingly traded bilaterally in their own currencies since the 2014 US-imposed sanctions on Russia. This is about the implementation of a huge, new alternative reserve currency zone, bypassing the US dollar.

The decision follows the establishment by Beijing, in October 2015, of the China International Payments System (CIPS). CIPS has a cooperation agreement with the private, Belgium-based SWIFT international bank clearing system, through which virtually every global transaction must transit.

What matters, in this case, is that Beijing – as well as Moscow – clearly read the writing on the wall when, in 2012, Washington applied pressure on SWIFT; blocked international clearing for every Iranian bank; and froze $100 billion in Iranian assets overseas as well as Tehran's potential to export oil. In the event that Washington might decide to slap sanctions on China, bank clearing though CIPS works as a de facto sanctions-evading mechanism.

Last March, Russia's central bank opened its first office in Beijing. Moscow is launching its first $1 billion yuan-denominated government bond sale. Moscow has made it very clear it is committed to a long-term strategy to stop using the US dollar as their primary currency in global trade, moving alongside Beijing towards what could be dubbed a post-Bretton Woods exchange system.

Gold is essential in this strategy. Russia, China, India, Brazil & South Africa are all either large producers or consumers of gold – or both. Following what has been extensively discussed in their summits since the early 2010s, the BRICS countries are bound to focus on trading physical gold .

Markets such as COMEX actually trade derivatives on gold, and are backed by an insignificant amount of physical gold. Major BRICS gold producers – especially the Russia-China partnership – plan to be able to exercise extra influence in setting up global gold prices.

The ultimate politically charged dossier

Intractable questions referring to the US dollar as the top reserve currency have been discussed at the highest levels of JP Morgan for at least five years now. There cannot be a more politically charged dossier. The NSS duly sidestepped it.

The current state of play is still all about the petrodollar system; since last year, what used to be a key, "secret" informal deal between the US and the House of Saud, is firmly in the public domain .

Even warriors in the Hindu Kush may now be aware of how oil and virtually all commodities must be traded in US dollars, and how these petrodollars are recycled into US Treasuries. Through this mechanism, Washington has accumulated an astonishing $20 trillion in debt – and counting.

Vast populations all across MENA (Middle East-Northern Africa) also learned what happened when Iraq's Saddam Hussein decided to sell oil in euros, or when Muammar Gaddafi planned to issue a pan-African gold dinar.

But now it's China who's entering the fray, following through on plans set up way back in 2012. And the name of the game is oil-futures trading priced in yuan, with the yuan fully convertible into gold on the Shanghai and Hong Kong foreign exchange markets.

The Shanghai Futures Exchange and its subsidiary, the Shanghai International Energy Exchange (INE) have already run four production environment tests for crude oil futures. Operations were supposed to start at the end of 2017, but even if they start sometime in early 2018, the fundamentals are clear: this triple win (oil/yuan/gold) completely bypasses the US dollar. The era of the petro-yuan is at hand.

Of course, there are questions on how Beijing will technically manage to set up a rival mark to Brent and WTI, or whether China's capital controls will influence it. Beijing has been quite discreet on the triple win; the petro-yuan was not even mentioned in National Development and Reform Commission documents following the 19th CCP Congress last October.

What's certain is that the BRICS countries supported the petro-yuan move at their summit in Xiamen, as diplomats confirmed to Asia Times . Venezuela is also on board. It's crucial to remember that Russia is number two and Venezuela is number seven among the world's Top Ten oil producers. Considering the pull of China's economy, they may soon be joined by other producers.

Yao Wei, chief China economist at Societe Generale in Paris, goes straight to the point, remarking how "this contract has the potential to greatly help China's push for yuan internationalization."

The hidden riches of "belt" and "road"

An extensive report by DBS in Singapore hits most of the right notes linking the internationalization of the yuan with the expansion of BRI.

In 2018, six major BRI projects will be on overdrive; the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, the China-Laos railway, the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway, the Hungary-Serbia railway, the Melaka Gateway project in Malaysia, and the upgrading of Gwadar port in Pakistan.

HSBC estimates that BRI as a whole will generate no less than an additional, game-changing $2.5 trillion worth of new trade a year.

It's important to keep in mind that the "belt" in BRI should be seen as a series of corridors connecting Eastern China with oil/gas-rich regions in Central Asia and the Middle East, while the "roads" soon to be plied by high-speed rail traverse regions filled with – what else - un-mined gold.

A key determinant of the future of the petro-yuan is what the House of Saud will do about it. Should Crown Prince – and inevitable future king – MBS opt to follow Russia's lead, to dub it as a paradigm shift would be the understatement of the century.

Yuan-denominated gold contracts will be traded not only in Shanghai and Hong Kong but also in Dubai. Saudi Arabia is also considering to issue so-called Panda bonds, after the Emirate of Sharjah is set to take the lead in the Middle East for Chinese interbank bonds.

Of course, the prelude to D-Day will be when the House of Saud officially announces it accepts yuan for at least part of its exports to China.

A follower of the Austrian school of economics correctly asserts that for oil-producing nations, higher oil price in US dollars is not as important as market share: "They are increasingly able to choose in which currencies they want to trade."

What's clear is that the House of Saud simply cannot alienate China as one of its top customers; it's Beijing who will dictate future terms. That may include extra pressure for Chinese participation in Aramco's IPO. In parallel, Washington would see Riyadh embracing the petro-yuan as the ultimate red line.

An independent European report points to what may be the Chinese trump card: "an authorization to issue treasury bills in yuan by Saudi Arabia," the creation of a Saudi investment fund, and the acquisition of a 5% share of Aramco.

Nations under US sanctions, such as Russia, Iran and Venezuela, will be among the first to embrace the petro-yuan. Smaller producers such as Angola and Nigeria are already selling oil/gas to China in yuan.

And if you don't export oil but are part of BRI, such as Pakistan, the least you can do is replace the US dollar in bilateral trade, as Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal is currently evaluating.

A key feature of the geoeconomic heart of the world moving from the West towards Asia is that by the start of the next decade the petro-yuan and trade bypassing the US dollar will be certified facts on the ground across Eurasia.

The NSS for its part promises to preserve "peace through strength." As Washington currently deploys no less than 291,000 troops in 183 countries and has sent Special Ops to no less than 149 nations in 2017 alone, it's hard to argue the US is at "peace" – especially when the NSS seeks to channel even more resources to the industrial-military complex.

"Revisionist" Russia and China have committed an unpardonable sin; they have concluded that pumping the US military budget by buying US bonds that allow the US Treasury to finance a multi-trillion dollar deficit without raising interest rates is an unsustainable proposition for the Global South. Their "threat" – under the framework of BRICS as well as the SCO, which includes prospective members Iran and Turkey – is to increasingly settle bilateral and multilateral trade bypassing the US dollar.

It ain't over till the fat (golden) lady sings. When the beginning of the end of the petrodollar system – established by Kissinger in tandem with the House of Saud way back in 1974 – becomes a fact on the ground, all eyes will be focused on the NSS counterpunch.

John C Carleton , December 23, 2017 10:11 AM

China and Russia been dumping US bonds for a good while.
They just have to do it slowly, so they can get as much cash, to buy stolen discounted gold with from the British Anglo Zionist Empire, as possible without tanking the market.

The Federal reserve, prints currency, "loans" it to USA corporation, at USURY rates, gives this currency to other "sovereign" puppet states such as Belgium, who then act like they are buying the bonds for themselves.

It is a scam. Those who trust the USA/British Empire, will wind up with worthless paper, while the Usury bankers, their bosses, China and Russia, will wind up with gold.
All you USA worshipers should understand something.
He who has the gold, makes the rules.
Guess the western sheep are going to be the bitc#s of China and Russia for the next century or so.

Tommy Jensen John C Carleton , December 23, 2017 11:26 AM

I believe America will win. Therefore I sold my gold and bought dollares. The bad guys always win.............LOL.

Cliff Aleksandar Tomić , December 23, 2017 6:20 PM

" Treason doth never prosper
What be the reason?
For when it prosper,
None dare call it treason" -William Shakespere

Mychal Arnold Tommy Jensen , December 24, 2017 4:49 AM

Hey Tim or whatever. Yep you always win huh? Vietnam, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Sudan, .ring any bells I could go on but you have been embarrassed enough with your msm drivel. Always the weak and defenseless you lily livered chicken's. You better avoid war with the two most powerful countries in the world. Can you guess? and neither are you pedos and babykillers. You make me sick and disgusted. Voted again the most threat to world peace. Ussa, ussa, ussa. Proud are ya all. The time is coming where you reap what you have sown and on that day I shall dance my happy dance that you feel what you and your evil countrymen have wrought in the world in the name of democracy and freedom hope it is on cable! You rotten to the core people!

Richard Burton Mychal Arnold , December 24, 2017 11:11 AM

Here here, the US Holocaust, countless millions killed all over the globe as the USA plunders, wars and props-up evil, despot regimes. Bin Laden, Taleban, just two of the US former best allies, how long can a 200 year old, degenerate country like the USA keep sponging-off/ using exploiting the worlds billions to enrich itself? USA... infested with drugs, crime, rust belts, slums, homeless, street bums VAST inequality.

zorbatheturk Richard Burton , December 25, 2017 2:11 AM

It's still a million miles better than a craphole like RuSSia!

Mychal Arnold Richard Burton , December 24, 2017 12:01 PM

Yep! As Rome burns and eaten from within!

Le Ruse Tommy Jensen , December 25, 2017 2:32 AM

Yes Tommy.. Good move !!
Buy US$ !! US$ is backed by US government !! Gold is not backed by anything !!

Peter Jennings John C Carleton , December 23, 2017 11:09 AM

Remember the Belgium Bulge a few years back? the process must also work in reverse.

wilmers13 John C Carleton , December 24, 2017 12:43 AM

You cannot buy gold from the Empire, have you not read the book Gold Warriors.

Security is a propaganda term now, stands for war preparations.

John C Carleton wilmers13 , December 24, 2017 8:39 AM

The Empire sells other peoples gold to China and Russia everyday, having stole and sold Americans gold long since.
Works like this.
The not Federal, and no Reserve(s) dollar, is worth about 1 cent, of a 1913, pre Usury criminal banker scam "dollar".
That 1 % is swiftly loosing it's value.
To keep the American people, from realizing, the USA, is using them for cattle, stealing their labor, through planned hyperinflation,:
Israhell/Washington crime cabal, dumps massive amounts of "paper gold and silver", on the market, each and every damn day the rigged market is open, in order to artificially keep the price of gold and silver way the hell below where it should be priced in federal reserve currency.
This hide s the true inflation rate of the not federal and no reserves private Usury Banker Currency, falsely identified as the "US Dollar".
Israhell/Washington DC, does not have the physical gold and silver to cover what they sell.
It is a criminal scam.
Those who buy this paper gold and silver, small guy, will never be given physical for the paper.
Small guy, traded green paper for white paper. Either will be worthless soon.
Sovereigns, can buy enough of it, to demand delivery of physical.
The day the British Anglo zionist Empire defaults delivering physical gold, to China and Russia, for the paper gold, is the day the curtain comes down on the illusion of the USA financial empire.
Washington DC knows this, China knows this, Russia knows this.
In order to buy time, Israhell/Washington DC, has stolen, sold at hugely discounted prices, to keep the dollar scam alive, just a while longer, all the gold they were supposably storing for safe keeping, of other sovereigns.
They have stolen privately held gold, which was stored in commercial banks and vaults for "safe keeping.
They stole the gold which went missing from the basement vaults in the world trade centers, before they set off the demolition charges.
Then they sold it.
They stole and sold Ukraines gold.
They stole and sold, Libya's gold.
They had intended to have already stole and sold Syria's gold.
They are fast running out of other peoples gold, to deliver to China and Russia at huge discounts, to prop up the scam, just a while longer.
The day there is no more stolen gold to deliver to China and Russia, the music stops, all the chairs are removed, this game of musical chars is over. Starving Americans will eat their pets, rats, and each other.
Thanks Israhell!
Thanks Washington DC/USA.

Trauma2000 John C Carleton , December 24, 2017 1:11 PM

I want more information on this. Isabella said a similar thing. I want to know more... So the U$T's that are in actual fact worthless, Russia is using to buy gold at a huge discount to what should be the true market rate; and then Russia is storing this. I understand the storing thing. I'm a straight forward kind-of-a-guy. But its the U.$.T.'s to Physical Gold I can't get my head around.

Why is the U.$. honouring what is a knife-to-its-throat deal that is very soon going to result in the collapse of the U.$. dollar? And according to this forum fully 20% of Russia's reserves are still held in fiat U.$.T's..?

Why would Russia hold such a large percentage if its reserves in what will be worthless U.$.T.'s when it knows that the U.$. is going to try and scam Russia and default..?

I want to know more.

John C Carleton Trauma2000 , December 24, 2017 2:02 PM

Picture a crime family.
Some branches are pure evil.
Some not so evil.
Some are very open about their evil.
Some are sneaky hypocrites who use the news media to white wash their crimes, and vilify their victims.

BUT! And this is one huge BUT, they all know too much on each other to start talking too damn much.
Also, their criminal Empire, (shearing/raping/murdering the sheep for fun and profit) is all tied together. Common banks, common/interchangeable fiat currencies, Usury debt practices.
Take part of it down, the other part will suffer great losses, if not go down with them.
Russia, and China, has gotten tired of the British Anglo zionist Empire lording it over them and treating them like red headed step children.
Russia and China, have not seen the Light, are not operating for the sake of their people, but to keep themselves in power, by returning to the people, some of the wealth they stole from the people to begin with
British Anglo zionist pig fkers Empire, is too greedy to return any of the stolen loot.
The BAzE, have a let them eat grass like the animals they are elitist attitude.
China and Russia, are trying to position themselves to come out on top when the economic reset happens.
They both were FORCED, by Empire, to both buy and hold, huge stashes of both Federal reserve fiat currency, and bonds, to do business in the rest of the world.
The USA military is the enforcement arm for the BAzE.
USA military is corrupted, demoralized, veterans fked over royally, weapons do not work as their purpose, was to steal the labor of the American working man and women, not to produce weapons which worked as advertised.
Russia and China, will continue to buy gold, buy time, to get in a better position to give Uncle Sugar's pedophilic ass both middle fingers.
It is in their interest to do so.
The owners of the British Anglo zionist Empire, have their personal vaults filled with stolen gold.
The politicians you see, the Rothschild's even, are window dressing to hide the true owners, and to protect the true owners asses during slave revolts, by offering, kings, queens, politicians, bankers, heads to get chopped.
These owners have no loyalty to any other person, or country in the world. They see themselves as the chess players, humanity as the pieces, the earth as their personal chess board.
They do not give a FF about America, the American people, or the hand puppet political whore of DC/USA.
The hand puppet whores, are too stupid, and corrupt anyway, to understand whats coming, or to have the power, intelligence, or balls to stop it
There are all kinds of fun and wealth created, for deviant sick bastards, in creating, and tearing down empires.
Besides, all the death and destruction gets them sexually excited
Takes years of study, experience with, and intuition, to begin to understand their evil, and the way the world really works.
Whether someone started years back, educating themselves, preparing for whats coming, will determine if they will enter the kill zone as a sheep or not.
The only protection sheep have, is the hope, the jackals will rape and murder some other sheep, not them. That is why they will not stand up or speak up.
That is why they violently attack anyone wants to leave the herd mentality, everyone else forced to be in the same sheep state as them,
They are afraid the jackal will notice them individually.
Herd numbers and hiding in the herd, are the cowards only protection

Bd-prince Pramanik Trauma2000 , December 24, 2017 8:28 PM

your answer is in your question!

Mychal Arnold John C Carleton , December 24, 2017 12:41 PM

John I firmly believe they will get what is coming to them just a matter of time nothing endures forever. But mostly not in our life time, though!

John C Carleton Mychal Arnold , December 24, 2017 12:46 PM

Any day now, any week, not very many months, can the scam go on.
In other words, Americans might want to bone up on delicious recipes for Rats, cats, and their neighbors.

Trauma2000 John C Carleton , December 23, 2017 3:15 PM

re: "China and Russia been dumping US bonds for a good while.
They just have to do it slowly, so they can get as much cash, to buy stolen discounted gold with from the British Anglo Zionist Empire, as possible without tanking the market."

I have been reading this for a while. But I've yet to see it in practice. Rosneft is still accepting U.$. dollars for oil/gas transactions, the most recent of which I believe was the gas shipment from St Petersburg to Poland..? https://tomluongo.me/2017/1...

I need to read more on this subject.

BobValdez Trauma2000 , December 23, 2017 3:48 PM

Russia acceps dollars for oil, and uses them to buy physical gold. No need to hold useless dollars, just convert them to gold.

Paw Trauma2000 , December 23, 2017 9:48 PM

What you buy by petrodollars ?
Saudi .Arabia buys arms. But SA has got millions of unemployed people , because they studied Islamic religion , wahabist fanaticism ... Further SA employs millions of workers from other countries. And owns US assets in value over 1 trillion dollars. So what else to buy , where to spend their petrodollars? Only get billions dollars arms ,that are in couple years useless...Population hate the fully corrupt royal family in numbers approximately 40 thousands princess as they have to get about 500 thousands yearly salaries...For doing nothing , only to spend it everywhere...
Populations hate US presence in SA. Very much.

Richard Burton Paw , December 24, 2017 11:18 AM

But the Great Satan~USA adore such scum as the vile Crooked Saudi royal family, the snakehead USA ignore all their anti-democracy, anti- human rights their beheading, their evil ways, they worship money the US swine, its all they see and lap-up, plus they have Russia/ China /Iran to pick on and blame not their evil Saudi- swine arms buyers. View Hide

Isabella Jones Trauma2000 , December 24, 2017 11:54 AM

At the moment, because the US is illegally holding gold prices down using uncovered shorts on paper gold, and at the same time has used sanctions to devalue the rouble, Russia is producing oil at reduced - rouble - rates, selling it on the international market for U$, [artificially inflated] and buying massive amounts of cheap gold with the huge profits she is making.
Russia is singing all the way to the bank right now. The US backed itself into a corner on this one it cannot get out from - short of waging war on Russia !!!

Mychal Arnold Isabella Jones , December 24, 2017 12:32 PM

10% of GDP goes out where is the ussa 100 as are many others in the west. All western country have huge debts funny how that is or is it?

Tony B. Isabella Jones , December 24, 2017 11:31 PM

Why should anyone who is in love with gold be upset if someone is holding the price down? It should be a wonderful time to buy.
Russia is MINING gold, its own gold.

Isabella Jones Tony B. , December 25, 2017 5:41 AM

It is a great time to buy, if you have some spare cash to store, I agree. It's just a poor time if you need to realise your gold - you wont get the price for it you should. But indeed, it's a buyers market. Yes, Russia has a fair bit of gold "reserves" just sitting in the ground.

John C Carleton Trauma2000 , December 23, 2017 3:41 PM

There is the face the beast lets you see, and the real face of the beast.
You do not think the beast is stupid enough to show it's real face to all the sheep?
Really?
The sheep who are given personal attention in private places, see the real face of the beast, because it sexually excites the beast for the chosen sheep to die bleating in terror.

Nathan Dunning John C Carleton , December 23, 2017 4:36 PM

You're a tool for the left I bet you're American Liberal.

John C Carleton Nathan Dunning , December 24, 2017 9:44 AM

You are a sheep.
i Am a wolf.
You are lucky i lost my taste for mutton.
i prefer goat and jackal. View Hide

John C Carleton Nathan Dunning , December 24, 2017 9:49 AM

View Hide

Mychal Arnold Nathan Dunning , December 24, 2017 12:45 PM

Guess you just got here you friggin troll. You know nothing you shill. Go back to the basement mom has brought you dinner and cookies n milk and let the grown men talk, now that is a good boy bye. Sorry John I have disappointed my Mom said be nice but idiots bother me. Say hi to your lovely Mom for me and God bless. Merry Christmas everyone! Got your back as always.

alexwest11 John C Carleton , December 23, 2017 11:25 AM

John C Carleton • an hour ago China and Russia been dumping US bond
-------
no they don't! Russians reserves are about 100+ bln in UST

and WHOLLY 20 % OF RUSSIAN assets in Russian banks are kept mostly $$$ and some euro

John C Carleton alexwest11 , December 23, 2017 12:18 PM

Glad you are so confident in the currency, which has lost 99% of it's buying power since 1913, when the not Federal and no Reserve(s) was forced on the American people by the Usury Banker ancestors of the owners of the 'Fed", buying USA politicians.

Where did that 99% value go?
To the I%ters. You know, the pedophile elite.
They want it all, they are coming for the other 1% of the "dollar's" value.
They are coming for Social security, government pensions, private pensions, checking accounts, any thing with any value.

Oh by the way, just cause you are ignorant of how things work, don't mean they don't work that way, just means you are ignorant.
Have a wonderful day now!
See mother, i was nice to the bad person who was trying to run interference for pedophile baby rapers.

oncefiredbrass John C Carleton , December 24, 2017 2:44 AM

Good to see someone else Awake! A good portion of the Sheep are still sleeping, they think the National Debt and Zero Interest Rates mean nothing (in the Eurozone Interest is Negative). The US Dollar is soon to be Toilet Paper! Our Military can only overthrow small countries that defy the PetroDollar system. Now with so many doing it, John Carleton is right, the National Debt and Retirements Accounts are basically equal. That is why Obutthead set the start of grabbing them by creating the MYRA, the Theory is the Sheep are to stupid to manage their own retirement accounts, so the Government would grab them and put them in a so called safe investment called "Treasury's". Unfortunately the SS Trust Fund has been raided and is broke, but they do have drawers full of Treasuries. Trump has to immediately open public lands for Mining & Drilling! A normalization of Interest Rates to 5-6% would consume Government Revenues just to pay Interest on the Debt!

John C Carleton oncefiredbrass , December 24, 2017 8:22 AM

Will work like this, they may already be doing it quietly.
Take private pensions.
They are already in trouble, having stocks, bonds, commercial real estate holdings.
All of these will become worthless, or close to it.
Anything with value, currency, decimal dollars, will be taken by the Washington thieves, and worthless US bonds which will probably never be redeemed, or redeemed for chump change, will be put in their place by Washington, as they "protect" the retirement accounts.
Old people will eat rats, each other, dog and cats, die without medical care and meds which they can not afford.
Some will eat their pistols.
Not going to be nice or orderly.

Ron John C Carleton , December 23, 2017 11:11 PM

Dude, your postings are good and has an element of humor, thanks.

alexwest11 John C Carleton , December 23, 2017 11:25 PM

pedophile baby rapers.
------
people who associate everything w/ pedophile baby rapers.
USUALLY ARE pedophile baby rapers.!!!!!

YES, $ lost about 97 %, but rest of even worse

russian ruble of 1913 - worthless
german mark -worthless
japanese yen - worthless
etc!

John C Carleton alexwest11 , December 24, 2017 8:58 AM

Open mouth in ignorance, insert foot.
Don't worry about a foot in the other end, i will do that verbally with my Texas cowboy boot.

Dispora Pedophiles increasingly Use Israel as 'haven,' activist charge.'
https://www.timesofisrael.c...

'Advocacy group: Israel is a pedophiles paridise-Haaetz-Israel News'
https://www.haaretz.com/adv...

'Nachlaot, where pedophiles roam free,--the Times of Israel
https://www.haaretz.com/adv...

'Israel Found to be Safe For Pedophiles'
http://yournewswire.com/isr...

'Jewish Pedophiles Increasingly use Israel as a haven, activist charge'
https://freespeechtwentyfir...

'Power, Pedophilia and the US Government'
http://www.whale.to/c/power...

'Frankland Coverup Sex Scandal,
(pedophile prostitution ring being run out of Reagan's White House)
http://www.johnccarleton.or...

All pedo's, should be given a fair trial, and a fair hanging. A pedophile which was given a fair trial, and a fair hanging, never again, raped a child.
Amazing how that works.

How you like them Texas cowboy boots?

Aurora alexwest11 , December 23, 2017 1:19 PM

Correct and very easy at any given moment to be converted in a GOLD.Just follow dynamic Russia and China buying GOLD on a world market and everything will be clear to you

alexwest11 Aurora , December 24, 2017 12:43 AM

dynamic Russia and China buying GOLD on a world market
-----

btw . moron

Russia/ china don't buy gold on world market. they are 2 /3 gold producers in the world

WHAT IS YOU LEVEL OF FORMAL EDUCATION ??

it seems you are uneducated moron !

AM Hants alexwest11 , December 24, 2017 7:25 AM

Russian Gold Reserves 2014-2017 View Hide

Aurora alexwest11 , December 24, 2017 1:19 PM

While all eyes are on the oil price and the ruble to dollar rate, the Central Bank of Russia has quietly been buying huge volumes of gold over the past year. In January, 2016, the latest data available, the Russian Central Bank again bought 22 tons of gold, around $800 million at current exchange rates, that, amidst US and EU financial sanctions and low oil prices. It was the eleventh month in a row they bought large gold volumes. For 2015 Russia added a record 208 tons of gold to her reserves compared with 172 tons for 2014. Russia now has 1,437 tonnes of gold in reserve, the sixth largest of any nation according to the World Gold Council in London. Only USA, Germany, Italy, France and China central banks hold a larger tonnage of gold reserves.
Notably also, the Russian central bank has been selling its holdings of US Treasury debt to buy the gold, de facto de-dollarizing, a sensible move as the dollar is waging de facto currency war against the ruble. As of December, 2015, Russia held $92 billion in US Treasury Bonds down from $132 billion in January 2014.China bought another 17 tons of gold in January and will buy a total of another 215 tons this year, approximately equal to that of Russia. From August to January 2016 China added 101 tonnes of gold to its reserves. Annual purchases of more than 200 tons by the PBOC would exceed the entire gold holdings of all but about 20 countries, according to the World Gold Council. China's central bank reserves of gold have risen 57% since 2009 acording to data the PBOC revealed in July, 2015. Market watchers believe even that amount of gold in China's central bank vaults is being politically vastly understated so as not to cause alarm bells to ring too loud in Washington and London.

Mychal Arnold alexwest11 , December 24, 2017 12:50 PM

Dude stop your only making yourself look stupid by opening your gob and proving or in this case writing. Merry Christmas or is it happy Hanukkah? Troll boy.

Le Ruse Mychal Arnold , December 25, 2017 2:37 AM

Maybe Happy "Kwanza" whatever is that ??

alexwest11 Aurora , December 23, 2017 11:29 PM

any given moment to be converted in a GOLD.J
----------
???????? converted what ?

in Russia, in gold ? you are not Russian, don't live, know nothing

----------
most Russians are stupid and uneducated in finance, savings do not exist

average Russian rather buy car , or flat than save money for something.

it is USSR mentality plagued by memory of deficits

Bd-prince Pramanik alexwest11 , December 24, 2017 8:51 PM

alexwest11 You are stupid ! a flat or house is real money you know ! They are uneducated in Rothschild finance! are you a russlanddeutsche! or jew from holy ukraine like poroschenko ?

Tony B. Bd-prince Pramanik , December 24, 2017 11:36 PM

Rothschild finance can be described in a single word: THEFT.
The world's sole economic problem.

Le Ruse Tony B. , December 25, 2017 2:39 AM

Humm...
the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away ??

AM Hants alexwest11 , December 24, 2017 7:38 AM

You confuse me. If Russians are so stupid and uneducated in finance, then why is their President a Dr in Economics?

Why are they in control of their vast wealth of natural resources?

Why do they have virtually enough gold to back the ruble and decent currency reserves, that rise monthly?

Also, how come they have free healthcare and education, including university level, if they are so stupid and uneducated?

Why does the US require Russian engines to make it into space?

Like I said, you confuse me, as I assumed you were talking about another super-nation, that has seriously lost it's way.

PUTIN'S PHD THESIS ESSENTIAL READING FOR OFFICIALS
http://slavija.proboards.co...

Russia National Debt: $194,545,062,334
Interest per Year $12,805,556,000
Interest per Second $406
Debt per Citizen $1,330
Debt as % of GDP 19.32%
GDP $1,007,000,000,000
Population 146,300,000

Russia Foreign Exchange Reserves

View Hide
oncefiredbrass alexwest11 , December 24, 2017 2:52 AM

Russia is one of the largest Countries by land mass with a sparse population after the breakup of the Soviet Union. They run very low deficits and their National Debt is very low, they are one of the Countries that is best prepared for a major economic crash.

alexwest11 oncefiredbrass , December 24, 2017 3:19 AM

oncefiredbrass alexwest11 • 28 minutes ago Russia
is one of the largest Countries by land mass with a sparse population
after the breakup of the Soviet Union. They run very low defic
--------
but facts say quite opposite!!!!!!!!

during oil selloff of 2008*9 Russian ruble fall 50%, from 23 to 37 per$

during oil selloff of 2014*15 Russian ruble fall 250 %, from 33 to almost 90 per$

right now its about 60 per $ , still 100% devaluation from 2014
-------

i don't remember $ fall against euro or yen during 2000 or/and 2008 crises in USA

more than 20 %

oncefiredbrass alexwest11 , December 24, 2017 3:27 AM

The fall of the Ruble was an attack or sanction by the Obama Regime over Ukraine. Why not trying to look up the Debt to GDP ratio for Russia and then the US and then ask yourself what economy is actually in a better position to withstand a Depression. Russia almost has enough Gold to back all their currency. How much gold would it take to back all the Treasuries and Dollars that the US has spread all over the world?

alexwest11 JIMI JAMES , December 24, 2017 6:23 AM

because in the end only the strong will survive and russia just like china
-------
!!sure moron.

avg salary in Russia about 500 $
avg pension 200 $

that is why idiotic Russians twice in 20 century totally annihilated own country!!!!!! 1917 and 1991

-----
and for china!!!!!!! it just show how moronic you are
we will see how china is good in 100 or 200 years!!!

cause history showed china always being overrun by someone else;
mongols, Manchurians, etc

learn a history western moron!!!!!!!!

Mychal Arnold alexwest11 , December 24, 2017 12:59 PM

Hey let the grown men talk baby boy! You are spouting msm talking points you're trying to debate the choir about hymns. Your not going to make anyone here see the light because you have no truths behind or in front. Msm drivel. One simple question! Who took Berlin? In ww2 of course!

Why , December 23, 2017 9:42 AM

I hope Russia will survive UKUSA's onslaught.

Craig A. Mouldey Why , December 23, 2017 10:51 AM

Me too. The U.S. has become the evil empire. The bully on the world stage stealing everyone's lunch money. I know it will devastate us in Canada, but I would still rather see the U.S. economy crumble if it would cripple their war machine, than to see this situation go on. Ron Paul was right: Instead of war, why not pursue peaceful trade? But the U.S. controllers want everyone else under their thumb as obedient serfs. It is evil. And as Smedley Butler so bluntly put it "War is a Racket"! He said this because he was sent to war with Guatemala on behalf of the United Fruit Company, aka Chiquita Brands International. This time, they are trying to steal the lunch money from those who can defend themselves. We aren't going to sit on our couch watching this war on TV, because we will watch it out our front windows.

[Dec 25, 2017] Ukraine loses gas dispute to Russia; ordered to pay $2 billion to Gazprom by by Alexander Mercouris

Notable quotes:
"... By contrast the reduction in the gas price Naftogaz refers to from $485/tcm to $352 tcm which Naftogaz makes much of in its statement appears to apply only to gas supplied to Ukraine by Gazprom in the second quarter of 2014 and still sets the price of gas supplied to Ukraine by Gazprom higher than was demanded by Ukraine during this period. ..."
"... Ukraine recently borrowed $3 billion on the international financial markets at very high interest almost certainly in order to pay the $3 billion the High Court in London has ordered it to pay Russia. Whilst the $2 billion is technically a debt owed by Naftogaz not Ukraine and its non-payment would does not place Ukraine in a state of sovereign default, Gazprom is in a position to enforce the debt against Naftogaz's assets (including gas it buys) in the European Economic Area. It is difficult to see how Naftogaz and Ukraine can avoid payment of this debt. ..."
"... Has Ukraine actually gained anything from its long running gas dispute with Russia? ..."
Dec 25, 2017 | theduran.com

On Friday 21st December 2017 the Stockholm Arbitration Court made a ruling in the legal dispute between Ukraine's state owned gas monopoly Naftogaz and Russia's largely state owned gas monopoly Gazprom.

In the hours after the decision – which like all decisions of the Stockholm Arbitration Court – is not published, Naftogaz claimed victory in a short statement. However over the course of the hours which followed Gazprom provided details of the decision which suggests that the truth is the diametric opposite.

The Duran recommends using WP Engine >>

Here is how the Financial Times reports the competing claims

Both Ukraine's Naftogaz and Russia's Gazprom both on Friday claimed victory as a Stockholm arbitration tribunal issued the final award ruling in the first of two cases in a three-year legal battle between the state-controlled energy companies, where total claims stand at some $80bn.

An emailed statement from the Ukrainian company was titled:

"Naftogaz wins the gas sales arbitration case against Gazprom on all issues in dispute."

Start your own website here >>

The Stockholm arbitration tribunal -- in its final award ruling in a dispute over gas supplies from prior years -- had, according to Naftogaz, struck down Gazprom's claim to receive $56bn for gas contracted but not supplied through controversial "take-or-pay" clauses. They were included in a supply contract Ukraine signed in 2009 after Gazprom dented supplies to the EU by cutting all flow amid a price dispute -- including transit through the country's vast pipeline systems. In a tweet Ukraine's foreign minister

Pavlo Klimkin wrote: "The victory of Naftogaz in the Stockholm arbitration: It's not a knockout, but three knockdowns with obvious advantage."

But later Gazprom countered that arbitors "acknowledged the main points of the contract were in effect and upheld the majority of Gazprom's demands for payment for gas supplies", worth over $2bn. A Naftogaz official responded that the company never refused to pay for gas supplied, but challenged price and conditions.

Given the tribunal does not make its decisions public, doubt loomed over which side was the ultimate winner. Anticipation also grew over the second and final tribunal award expected early next year over disputes both have concerning past gas transit obligations.

Friday's final Stockholm arbitration ruling follows a preliminary decision from last May after which both sides were given time to settle monetary claims outside of the tribunal but failed to reach agreement.

Here is the full Naftogaz statement:

"Today, the Tribunal at the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce has completely rejected Gazprom take-or-pay claims to Naftogaz amounting to USD 56 billion for 2009-2017.

Gazprom said that in a separate decision on May 31 of this year, the tribunal denied Naftogaz's application to review prices from May 2011 to April 2014, ordered it to pay $14bn for gas supplies during that period, and said that the take-or-pay conditions applied for the duration of the contract. Gazprom claimed that Naftogaz would have to pay it $2.18bn plus interest of 0.03 per cent for every day the payments were late, and then pay for 5bn cm of gas annually starting next year.

When the different sides give opposite accounts of the same decision it obviously becomes difficult to say what the real decision actually is. However Gazprom says that the court upheld (1) the main provisions of the contract; (2) the contract's take-or-pay provisions, these being a particularly contentious issue in the contract; and (3) that Naftogaz has been ordered to pay Gazprom $2 billion, presumably immediately, with interest for every day the amount is unpaid.

By contrast the reduction in the gas price Naftogaz refers to from $485/tcm to $352 tcm which Naftogaz makes much of in its statement appears to apply only to gas supplied to Ukraine by Gazprom in the second quarter of 2014 and still sets the price of gas supplied to Ukraine by Gazprom higher than was demanded by Ukraine during this period.

The key point here is that Russia agreed to reduce the price of gas supplied to Ukraine by an agreement Russia's President Putin reached with Ukraine's President Yanukovich in December 2013. After the Maidan coup the new Ukrainian government went back on the agreement causing the Russians to demand payment of the original price. However over the course of 2014, as energy prices began first to slide and then crashed, and as it became clear that Ukraine was simply not paying for its gas, Russia again reduced the price of the gas Ukraine had to pay.

What seems to have happened is that the Stockholm Arbitration Court decided to smooth out the price of gas payable by Ukraine throughout 2014, which is the sort of thing arbitration tribunals are regularly known to do, whilst leaving the essentials of the contract unchanged.

If so then this is not a victory by Ukraine but a clearcut defeat, which Naftogaz and the Ukrainian government have tried to spin into a victory by citing the reduction in the gas price in the second quarter of 2014 and the reduction in future gas import volumes, neither of which were contentious issues. By contrast it is clear that Ukraine and Naftogaz must pay the full contractual price and abide by the contract's take-or-pay provisions for the whole of the period of the contract prior to the second quarter of 2014.

What this means in terms of hard cash is that Ukraine must now pay Russia a further $2 billion on top of the $3 billion it was recently ordered to pay by the High Court in London. Just as it is holding back on paying the $3 billion it was ordered to pay by the High Court until the appeal process in London is finished, so it will try to hold off paying the $2 billion it has just been ordered to pay to Gazprom until the final decision of the Stockholm Arbitration Court (thus the brave talk of Naftogaz's claims of "up to $16 billion transit contract arbitration against Gazprom") but thereafter payment of the $2 billion will fall due. I say this because the claim Gazprom owes Naftogaz "up to" $16 billion in transit fees looks like it has been plucked out of the air.

What this means is that over the course of 2018 Ukraine will have to pay Russia $5 billion ($3 billion awarded by the High Court in London and $2 billion awarded by the Stockholm Arbitration Court). Since the $2 billion awarded by the Stockholm Arbitration Court is technically an arbitration award, Gazprom will need to convert it into a court Judgment before it can enforce it, but that is merely a formality. At that point this debt will become not merely due but legally enforceable as well.

Ukraine recently borrowed $3 billion on the international financial markets at very high interest almost certainly in order to pay the $3 billion the High Court in London has ordered it to pay Russia. Whilst the $2 billion is technically a debt owed by Naftogaz not Ukraine and its non-payment would does not place Ukraine in a state of sovereign default, Gazprom is in a position to enforce the debt against Naftogaz's assets (including gas it buys) in the European Economic Area. It is difficult to see how Naftogaz and Ukraine can avoid payment of this debt.

Has Ukraine actually gained anything from its long running gas dispute with Russia?

Naftogaz brags that Ukraine has saved up to $75 billion because it is no longer buying gas from Russia. However this begs the question of whether the gas Ukraine is now importing from Europe really is significantly cheaper than the gas Ukraine was buying from Russia? This is debatable and with energy prices rising it is likely to become even less likely over time.

[Dec 23, 2017] Debunking Mainstream Economists on Secular Stagnation and the Loanable Funds Fallacy by Servaas Storm

Notable quotes:
"... By Servaas Storm, Senior Lecturer at Delft University of Technology, who works on macroeconomics, technological progress, income distribution & economic growth, finance, development and structural change, and climate change. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website ..."
"... Forget the myth of a savings glut causing near-zero interest rates. We have a shortage of aggregate demand, and only public spending and raising wages will change that. ..."
"... ceteris paribus ..."
"... simultaneously ..."
"... private households ..."
"... See original post for references ..."
"... This is the night of the expanding man I take one last drag as I approach the stand I cried when I wrote this song Sue me if I play too long This brother is free I'll be what I want to be ..."
Dec 22, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

by Yves Smith Yves here. This is a terrific takedown of the loanable funds theory, on which a ton of bad policy rests.

By Servaas Storm, Senior Lecturer at Delft University of Technology, who works on macroeconomics, technological progress, income distribution & economic growth, finance, development and structural change, and climate change. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

Forget the myth of a savings glut causing near-zero interest rates. We have a shortage of aggregate demand, and only public spending and raising wages will change that.

Introduction

Nine years after the Great Financial Crisis, U.S. output growth has not returned to its pre-recession trend, even after interest rates hit the 'zero lower bound' (ZLB) and the unconventional monetary policy arsenal of the Federal Reserve has been all but exhausted. It is widely feared that this insipid recovery reflects a 'new normal', characterized by "secular stagnation" which set in already well before the global banking crisis of 2008 (Summers 2013, 2015).

This 'new normal' is characterized not just by this slowdown of aggregate economic growth, but also by greater income and wealth inequalities and a growing polarization of employment and earnings into high-skill, high-wage and low-skill, low-wage jobs -- at the expense of middle-class jobs (Temin 2017; Storm 2017). The slow recovery, heightened job insecurity and economic anxiety have fueled a groundswell of popular discontent with the political establishment and made voters captive to Donald Trump's siren song promising jobs and growth ( Ferguson and Page 2017 ).

What are the causes of secular stagnation? What are the solutions to revive growth and get the U.S. economy out of the doldrums?

If we go by four of the papers commissioned by the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) at its recent symposium to explore these questions, one headline conclusion stands out: the secular stagnation is caused by a heavy overdose of savings (relative to investment), which is caused by higher retirement savings due to declining population growth and an ageing labour force (Eggertson, Mehotra & Robbins 2017; Lu & Teulings 2017; Eggertson, Lancastre and Summers 2017), higher income inequality (Rachel & Smith 2017), and an inflow of precautionary Asian savings (Rachel & Smith 2017). All these savings end up as deposits, or 'loanable funds' (LF), in commercial banks. In earlier times, so the argument goes, banks would successfully channel these 'loanable funds' into productive firm investment -- by lowering the nominal interest rate and thus inducing additional demand for investment loans.

But this time is different: the glut in savings supply is so large that banks cannot get rid of all the loanable funds even when they offer firms free loans -- that is, even after they reduce the interest rate to zero, firms are not willing to borrow more in order to invest. The result is inadequate investment and a shortage of aggregate demand in the short run, which lead to long-term stagnation as long as the savings-investment imbalance persists. Summers (2015) regards a "chronic excess of saving over investment" as "the essence of secular stagnation". Monetary policymakers at the Federal Reserve are in a fix, because they cannot lower the interest rate further as it is stuck at the ZLB. Hence, forces of demography and ageing, higher inequality and thrifty Chinese savers are putting the U.S. economy on a slow-moving turtle -- and not much can be done, it seems, to halt the resulting secular stagnation.

This is clearly a depressing conclusion, but it is also wrong.

To see this, we have to understand why there is a misplaced focus on the market for loanable funds that ignores the role of fiscal policy that is plainly in front of us. In other words, we need to step back from the trees of dated models and see the whole forest of our economy.

The Market for Loanable Funds

In the papers mentioned, commercial banks must first mobilise savings in order to have the loanable funds (LF) to originate new (investment) loans or credit. Banks are therefore intermediaries between "savers" (those who provide the LF-supply) and "investors" (firms which demand the LF). Banks, in this narrative, do not create money themselves and hence cannot pre -finance investment by new money. They only move it between savers and investors.

We apparently live in a non-monetary (corn) economy -- one that just exchanges a real good that everybody uses, like corn. Savings (or LF-supply) are assumed to rise when the interest rate R goes up, whereas investment (or LF-demand) must decline when R increases. This is the stuff of textbooks, as is illustrated by Greg Mankiw's (1997, p. 63) explanation:

In fact, saving and investment can be interpreted in terms of supply an demand. In this case, the 'good' is loanable funds, and its 'price' is the interest rate. Saving is the supply of loans -- individuals lend their savings to investors, or they deposit their saving in a bank that makes the loan for them. Investment is the demand for loanable funds -- investors borrow from the public directly by selling bonds or indirectly by borrowing from banks. [ .] At the equilibrium interest rate, saving equals investment and the supply of loans equals the demand.

But the loanable funds market also forms the heart of complicated dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models, beloved by 'freshwater' and 'saltwater' economists alike (Woodford 2010), as should be clear from the commissioned INET papers as well. Figure 1 illustrates the loanable funds market in this scheme. The upward-sloping curve tells us that savings (or LF-supply) goes up as the interest rate R increases. The downward-sloping curve shows us that investment (or LF-demand) declines if the cost of capital (R) goes up. In the initial situation, the LF-market clears at a positive interest rate R0 > 0. Savings equal investment, which implies that LF-supply matches LF-demand, and in this -- happy -- equilibrium outcome, the economy can grow along some steady-state path.

To see how we can get secular stagnation in such a loanable-funds world, we introduce a shock, say, an ageing population (a demographic imbalance), a rise in (extreme) inequality, or an Asian savings glut, due to which the savings schedule shifts down. Equilibrium in the new situation should occur at R1 which is negative. But this can't happen because of the ZLB: the nominal interest cannot decline below zero. Hence R is stuck at the ZLB and savings exceed investment, or LF-supply > LF-demand. This is a disequilibrium outcome which involves an over-supply of savings (relative to investment), in turn leading to depressed growth.

Ever since Knut Wicksell's (1898) restatement of the doctrine, the loanable funds approach has exerted a surprisingly strong influence upon some of the best minds in the profession. Its appeal lies in the fact that it can be presented in digestible form in a simple diagram (as Figure 1), while its micro-economic logic matches the neoclassical belief in the 'virtue of thrift' and Max Weber's Protestant Ethic, which emphasize austerity, savings (before spending!) and delayed gratification as the path to bliss.

The problem with this model is that it is wrong (see Lindner 2015; Taylor 2016 ). Wrong in its conceptualisation of banks (which are not just intermediaries pushing around existing money, but which can create new money ex nihilo ), wrong in thinking that savings or LF-supply have anything to do with "loans" or "credit," wrong because the empirical evidence in support of a "chronic excess of savings over investment" is weak or lacking, wrong in its utter neglect of finance, financialization and financial markets, wrong in its assumption that the interest rate is some "market-clearing" price (the interest rate, as all central bankers will acknowledge, is the principal instrument of monetary policy), and wrong in the assumption that the two schedules -- the LF-supply curve and the LF-demand curve -- are independent of one another (they are not, as Keynes already pointed out).

Figure 1: The Loanable Funds Market: A Savings Glut Causing Secular Stagnation

I wish to briefly elaborate these six points. I understand that each of these criticisms is known and I entertain little hope that that any of this will make people reconsider their approach, analysis, diagnosis and conclusions. Nevertheless, it is important that these criticisms are raised and not shoveled under the carpet. The problem of secular stagnation is simply too important to be left mis-diagnosed.

First Problem: Loanable Funds Supply and Demand Are Not Independent Functions

Let me start with the point that the LF-supply and LF-demand curve are not two independent schedules. Figure 1 presents savings and investment as functions of only the interest rate R, while keeping all other variables unchanged. The problem is that the ceteris paribus assumption does not hold in this case. The reason is that savings and investment are both affected by, and at the same time determined by, changes in income and (changes in) income distribution. To see how this works, let us assume that the average propensity to save rises in response to the demographic imbalance and ageing. As a result, consumption and aggregate demand go down. Rational firms, expecting future income to decline, will postpone or cancel planned investment projects and investment declines (due to the negative income effect and for a given interest rate R0). This means that LF-demand curve in Figure 1 must shift downward in response to the increased savings. The exact point was made by Keynes (1936, p. 179):

The classical theory of the rate of interest [the loanable funds theory] seems to suppose that, if the demand curve for capital shifts or if the curve relating the rate of interest to the amounts saved out of a given income shifts or if both these curves shift, the new rate of interest will be given by the point of intersection of the new positions of the two curves. But this is a nonsense theory. For the assumption that income is constant is inconsistent with the assumption that these two curves can shift independently of one another. If either of them shift, then, in general, income will change; with the result that the whole schematism based on the assumption of a given income breaks down In truth, the classical theory has not been alive to the relevance of changes in the level of income or to the possibility of the level of income being actually a function of the rate of the investment.

Let me try to illustrate this using Figure 2. Suppose there is an exogenous (unexplained) rise in the average propensity to save. In reponse, the LF-supply curve shifts down, but because (expected) income declines, the LF-demand schedule shifts downward as well. The outcome could well be that there is no change in equilibrium savings and equilibrium investment. The only change is that the 'natural' interest is now R1 and equal to the ZLB. Figure 2 is, in fact, consistent with the empirical analysis (and their Figure of global savings and investment) of Rachel & Smith. Let me be clear: Figure 2 is not intended to suggest that the loanable funds market is useful and theoretically correct. The point I am trying to make is that income changes and autonomous demand changes are much bigger drivers of both investment and saving decisions than the interest rate. Market clearing happens here -- as Keynes was arguing -- because the level of economic activity and income adjust, not because of interest-rate adjustment.

Figure 2: The Loanable Funds Market: Shifts in Both Schedules

Second Problem: Savings Do Not Fund Investment, Credit Does

The loanable funds doctrine wrongly assumes that commercial bank lending is constrained by the prior availability of loanable funds or savings. The simple point in response is that, in real life, modern banks are not just intermediaries between 'savers' and 'investors', pushing around already-existing money, but are money creating institutions. Banks create new money ex nihilo , i.e. without prior mobilisation of savings. This is illustrated by Werner's (2014) case study of the money creation process by one individual commercial bank. What this means is that banks do pre-finance investment, as was noted by Schumpeter early on and later by Keynes (1939), Kaldor (1989), Kalecki, and numerous other economists. It is for this reason that Joseph Schumpeter (1934, p. 74) called the money-creating banker 'the ephor of the exchange economy' -- someone who by creating credit ( ex nihilo ) is pre-financing new investments and innovation and enables "the carrying out of new combinations, authorizes people, in the name of society as it were, to form them." Nicholas Kaldor (1989, p. 179) hit the nail on its head when he wrote that "[C]redit money has no 'supply function' in the production sense (since its costs of production are insignificant if not actually zero); it comes into existence as a result of bank lending and is extinguished through the repayment of bank loans. At any one time the volume of bank lending or its rate of expansion is limited only by the availability of credit-worthy borrowers." Kaldor had earlier expressed his views on the endogeneity of money in his evidence to the Radcliffe Committee on the Workings of the Monetary System, whose report (1959) was strongly influenced by Kaldor's argumentation. Or take Lord Adair Turner (2016, pp. 57) to whom the loanable-funds approach is 98% fictional, as he writes:

Read an undergraduate textbook of economics, or advanced academic papers on financial intermediation, and if they describe banks at all, it is usually as follows: "banks take deposits from households and lend money to businesses, allocating capital between alternative capital investment possibilities." But as a description of what modern banks do, this account is largely fictional, and it fails to capture their essential role and implications. [ ] Banks create credit, money, and thus purchasing power. [ ] The vast majority of what we count as "money' in modern economies is created in this fashion: in the United Kingdom 98% of money takes this form .

We therefore don't need savings to make possible investment -- or, in contrast to the Protestant Ethic, banks allow us to have 'gratification' even if we have not been 'thrifty' and austere, as long as there are slack resources in the economy.

It is by no means a secret that commercial banks create new money. As the Bank of England (2007) writes, "When bank make loans they create additional deposits for those that have borrowed" (Berry et al. 2007, p. 377). Or consider the following statement from the Deutsche Bundesbank (2009): "The commercial banks can create money themselves ." Across the board, central bank economists, including economists working at the Bank for International Settlements (Borio and Disyatat 2011), have rejected the loanable funds model as a wrong description of how the financial system actually works (see McLeay et al . 2014a, 2014b; Jakab and Kumhof 2015). And the Deutsche Bundesbank (2017) leaves no doubt as to how the banking system works and money is created in actually-existing capitalism, stating that the ability of banks to originate loans does not depend on the prior availability of saving deposits. Bank of England economists Zoltan Jakab and Michael Kumhoff (2015) reject the loanable-funds approach in favour of a model with money-creating banks. In their model (as in reality), banks pre-finance investment; investment creates incomes; people save out of their incomes; and at the end of the day, ex-post savings equal investment. This is what Jakab and Kumhoff (2015) conclude:

" . if the loan is for physical investment purposes, this new lending and money is what triggers investment and therefore, by the national accounts identity of saving and investment (for closed economies), saving. Saving is therefore a consequence, not a cause, of such lending. Saving does not finance investment, financing does. To argue otherwise confuses the respective macroeconomic roles of resources (saving) and debt-based money (financing)."

Savings are a consequence of credit-financed investment (rather than a prior condition) -- and we cannot draw a savings-investment cross as in Figure 1, as if the two curves are independent. They are not. There exists therefore no 'loanable funds market' in which scarce savings constrain (through interest rate adjustments) the demand for investment loans. Highlighting the loanable funds fallacy, Keynes wrote in "The Process of Capital Formation" (1939):

"Increased investment will always be accompanied by increased saving, but it can never be preceded by it. Dishoarding and credit expansion provides not an alternative to increased saving, but a necessary preparation for it. It is the parent, not the twin, of increased saving."

This makes it all the more remarkable that some of the authors of the commissioned conference papers continue to frame their analysis in terms of the discredited loanable funds market which wrongly assumes that savings have an existence of their own -- separate from investment, the level of economic activity and the distribution of incomes.

Third Problem: The Interest Rate Is a Monetary Policy Instrument, Not a Market-Clearing Price

In loanable funds theory, the interest rate is a market price, determined by LF-supply and LF-demand (as in Figure 1). In reality, central bankers use the interest rate as their principal policy instrument (Storm and Naastepad 2012). It takes effort and a considerable amount of sophistry to match the loanable funds theory and the usage of the interest rate as a policy instrument. However, once one acknowledges the empirical fact that commercial banks create money ex nihilo , which means money supply is endogenous, the model of an interest-rate clearing loanable funds market becomes untenable. Or as Bank of England economists Jakab and Kumhof (2015) argue:

modern central banks target interest rates, and are committed to supplying as many reserves (and cash) as banks demand at that rate, in order to safeguard financial stability. The quantity of reserves is therefore a consequence, not a cause, of lending and money creation. This view concerning central bank reserves [ ] has been repeatedly described in publications of the world's leading central banks.

What this means is that the interest rate may well be at the ZLB, but this is not caused by a savings glut in the loanable funds market, but the result of a deliberate policy decision by the Federal Reserve -- in an attempt to revive sluggish demand in a context of stagnation, subdued wage growth, weak or no inflation, substantial hidden un- and underemployment, and actual recorded unemployment being (much) higher than the NAIRU (see Storm and Naastepad 2012). Seen this way, the savings glut is the symptom (or consequence ) of an aggregate demand shortage which has its roots in the permanent suppression of wage growth (relative to labour productivity growth), the falling share of wages in income, the rising inequalities of income and wealth (Taylor 2017) as well as the financialization of corporations (Lazonick 2017) and the economy as a whole (Storm 2018). It is not the cause of the secular stagnation -- unlike in the loanable funds models.

Fourth Problem: The Manifest Absence of Finance and Financial Markets

What the various commissioned conference papers do not acknowledge is that the increase in savings (mostly due to heightened inequality and financialization) is not channeled into higher real-economy investment, but is actually channeled into more lucrative financial (derivative) markets. Big corporations like Alphabet, Facebook and Microsoft are holding enormous amounts of liquidity and IMF economists have documented the growth of global institutional cash pools, now worth $5 to 6 trillion and managed by asset or money managers in the shadow banking system (Pozsar 2011; Pozsar and Singh 2011; Pozsar 2015). Today's global economy is suffering from an unprecedented "liquidity preference" -- with the cash safely "parked" in short-term (over-collateralized lending deals in the repo-market. The liquidity is used to earn a quick buck in all kinds of OTC derivatives trading, including forex swaps, options and interest rate swaps. The global savings glut is the same thing as the global overabundance of liquidity (partying around in financial markets) and also the same thing as the global demand shortage -- that is: the lack of investment in real economic activity, R&D and innovation.

The low interest rate is important in this context, because it has dramatically lowered the opportunity cost of holding cash -- thus encouraging (financial) firms, the rentiers and the super-rich to hold on to their liquidity and make (quick and relatively safe and high) returns in financial markets and exotic financial instruments. Added to this, we have to acknowledge the fact that highly-leveraged firms are paying out most of their profits to shareholders as dividends or using it to buy back shares (Lazonick 2017). This has turned out to be damaging to real investment and innovation, and it has added further fuel to financialization (Epstein 2018; Storm 2018). If anything, firms have stopped using their savings (or retained profits) to finance their investments which are now financed by bank loans and higher leverage. If we acknowledge these roles of finance and financial markets, then we can begin to understand why investment is depressed and why there is an aggregate demand shortage. More than two decades of financial deregulation have created a rentiers' delight, a capitalism without 'compulsions' on financial investors, banks, and the property-owning class which in practice has led to 'capitalism for the 99%' and 'socialism for the 1%' (Palma 2009; Epstein 2018) For authentic Keynesians, this financialized system is the exact opposite of Keynes' advice to go for the euthanasia of the rentiers ( i.e. design policies to reduce the excess liquidity).

Fifth Problem: Confusing Savings with "Loans," or Stocks with Flows

"I have found out what economics is,' Michał Kalecki once told Joan Robinson, "it is the science of confusing stocks with flows." If anything, Kalecki's comment applies to the loanable funds model. In the loanable fund universe, as Mankiw writes and as most commissioned conference papers argue, saving equals investment and the supply of loans equals the demand at some equilibrium interest rate. But savings and investment are flow variables, whereas the supply of loans and the demand for loans are stock variables. Simply equating these flows to the corresponding stocks is not considered good practice in stock-flow-consistent macro-economic modelling. It is incongruous, because even if we assume that the interest rate does clear "the stock of loan supply" and "the stock of loan demand", there is no reason why the same interest rate would simultaneously balance savings ( i.e. the increase in loan supply) and investment ( i.e. the increase in loan demand). So what is the theoretical rationale of assuming that some interest rate is clearing the loanable funds market (which is defined in terms of flows )?

To illustrate the difference between stocks and flows: the stock of U.S. loans equals around 350% of U.S. GDP (if one includes debts of financial firms), while gross savings amount to 17% of U.S. GDP. Lance Taylor (2016) presents the basic macroeconomic flows and stocks for the U.S. economy to show how and why loanable funds macro models do not fit the data -- by a big margin. No interest rate adjustment mechanism is strong enough to bring about this (ex-post) balance in terms of flows , because the interest rate determination is overwhelmed by changes in loan supply and demand stocks . What is more, and as stated before, we don't actually use 'savings' to fund 'investment'. Firms do not use retained profits (or corporate savings) to finance their investment, but in actual fact disgorge the cash to shareholders (Lazonick 2017). They finance their investment by bank loans (which is newly minted money). Households use their (accumulated) savings to buy bonds in the secondary market or any other existing asset. In that case, the savings do not go to funding new investment -- but are merely used to re-arrange the composition of the financial portfolio of the savers.

Final Problem: The Evidence of a Chronic Excess of Savings Over Investment is Missing

If Summers claims that there is a "chronic excess of savings over investment," what he means is that ex-ante savings are larger than ex-ante investment. This is a difficult proposition to empirically falsify, because we only have ex-post (national accounting) data on savings and investment which presume the two variables are equal. However, what we can do is consider data on (global) gross and net savings rates (as a proportion of GDP) to see if the propensity to save has increased. This is what Bofinger and Ries (2017) did and they find that global saving rates of private households have declined dramatically since the 1980s. This means, they write, that one can rule out 'excess savings' due to demographic factors (as per Eggertson, Mehotra & Robbins 2017; Eggertsson, Lancastre & Summers 2017; Rachel & Smith 2017; and Lu & Teulings 2017). While the average saving propensity of household has declined, the aggregate propensity to save has basically stayed the same during the period 1985-2014. This is shown in Figure 3 (reproduced from Bofinger and Reis 2017) which plots the ratio of global gross savings (or global gross investment) to GDP against the world real interest rate during 1985-2014. A similar figure can be found in the paper by Rachel and Smith (2017). What can be seen is that while there has been no secular rise in the average global propensity to save, there has been a secular decline in interest rates. This drop in interest rates to the ZLB is not caused by a savings glut, nor by a financing glut, but is the outcome of the deliberate decisions of central banks to lower the policy rate in the face of stagnating economies, put on a 'slow-moving turtle' by a structural lack of aggregate demand which -- as argued by Storm and Naastepad (2012) and Storm (2017) -- is largely due to misconceived macro and labour-market policies centered on suppressing wage growth, fiscal austerity, and labour market deregulation.

Saving/Investment Equilibria and World Real Interest Rate, 1985-2014 Source: Bofinger and Reis (2017), Figure 1(a).

To understand the mechanisms underlying Figure 3, let us consider Figure 4 which plots investment demand as a negative function of the interest rate. In the 'old situation', investment demand is high at a (relatively) high rate of interest (R0); this corresponds to the data points for the period 1985-1995 in Figure 3. But then misconceived macro and labour-market policies centered on suppressing wage growth, fiscal austerity, and labour market deregulation began to depress aggregate demand and investment -- and as a result, the investment demand schedule starts to shift down and to become more steeply downward-sloping at the same time. In response to the growth slowdown (and weakening inflationary pressure), central banks reduce R -- but without any success in raising the gross investment rate. This process continues until the interest rate hits the ZLB while investment has become practically interest-rate insensitive, as investment is now overwhelmingly determined by pessimistic profit expectations; this is indicated by the new investment schedule (in red). That the economy is now stuck at the ZLB is not caused by a "chronic excess of savings" but rather by a chronic shortage of aggregate demand -- a shortage created by decades of wage growth moderation, labour market flexibilization, and heightened job insecurity as well as the financialization of corporations and the economy at large (Storm 2018).

Figure 4: Secular Stagnation As a Crisis of Weak Investment Demand

Conclusions

The consensus in the literature and in the commissioned conference papers that the global decline in real interest rates is caused by a higher propensity to save, above all due to demographic reasons, is wrong in terms of underlying theory and evidence base. The decline in interest rates is the monetary policy response to stalling investment and growth, both caused by a shortage of global demand. However, the low interest rates are unable to revive growth and halt the secular stagnation, because there is little reason for firms to expand productive capacity in the face of the persistent aggregate demand shortage. Unless we revive demand, for example through debt-financed fiscal stimulus or a drastic and permanent progressive redistribution of income and wealth in favour of lower-income groups (Taylor 2017), there is no escape from secular stagnation. The narrow focus on the ZLB and powerless monetary policy within the framing of a loanable-funds financial system blocks out serious macroeconomic policy debate on how to revive aggregate demand in a sustainable manner. It will keep the U.S. economy on the slow-moving turtle -- not because policymakers cannot do anything about it, but we choose to do so. The economic, social and political damage, fully self-inflicted, is going to be of historic proportions.

It is not a secret that the loanable funds approach is fallacious (Lindner 2015; Taylor 2016; Jakab and Kumhof 2015). While academic economists continue to refine their Ptolemaic model of a loanable-funds market, central bank economists have moved on -- and are now exploring the scope of and limitations to monetary policymaking in a monetary economy. Keynes famously wrote that "Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back." In 2017, things seem to happen the other way around: academic economists who believe themselves to be free thinkers are caught in the stale theorizing of a century past. The puzzle is, as Lance Taylor (2016, p. 15) concludes "why [New Keynesian economists] revert to Wicksell on loanable funds and the natural rate while ignoring Keynes's innovations. Maybe, as [Keynes] said in the preface to the General Theory, "'The difficulty lies not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones ..' (p. viii)"

Due to our inability to free ourselves from the discredited loanable funds doctrine, we have lost the forest for the trees. We cannot see that the solution to the real problem underlying secular stagnation (a structural shortage of aggregate demand) is by no means difficult: use fiscal policy -- a package of spending on infrastructure, green energy systems, public transportation and public services, and progressive income taxation -- and raise (median) wages. The stagnation will soon be over, relegating all the scholastic talk about the ZLB to the dustbin of a Christmas past.

See original post for references

gtggtg , December 22, 2017 at 10:08 am

"Forget the myth of a savings glut causing near-zero interest rates. We have a shortage of aggregate demand, and only public spending and raising wages will change that."

But isn't "a savings glut" just the same as "a shortage of aggregate demand"? Or is Keynes so out of favor that this is outre thinking?

gtggtg , December 22, 2017 at 10:10 am

I mean, I just have this image of economists going, "It's the chicken! It's the chicken, I say!" "No! It's the egg, dammit!"

MisterMr , December 22, 2017 at 11:58 am

I second this.

The point is that the "saving glut" is caused bi unequal distribution of income, so it's a good thing that the "shortage of aggregate demand" is stressed, but still it's just two names for the same thing.

In the end the "money creation" is needed because there is not a "money circulation", IMO.

jsn , December 22, 2017 at 4:45 pm

Putting money into the broadest possible distribution and circulation is the key. It could be done with existing money through taxation or with new money through the federal fiscal lever.

Given the "Tax Reform" just passed, odds on the first option look vanishingly long. The second option is what the elites do whenever they want something, normally a war or tax cut. If they want a robust economy, eventually they will pull the fiscal lever.

Feudalism, however, may look better to our depraved current elite crop than any kind of broadly robust economy.

TroyMcClure , December 22, 2017 at 11:49 am

There was a link to an article yesterday called "I write because I hate" that described how incorrect and even dangerous metaphors can be when it comes to understanding the world. Yours is a case in point.

Jamie , December 22, 2017 at 12:00 pm

But isn't "a savings glut" just the same as "a shortage of aggregate demand"

I'm not sure I entirely understand your complaint, but at a first glance a savings glut is one kind of demand shortage, but not every kind of demand shortage can reasonably be called a savings glut. In one situation you have plenty of resource but no use for it other than possible future use (savings glut -- you have everything you need so cease purchasing) and in another situation you have insufficient resource (demand shortage -- you cease purchasing because you can't afford to purchase) but no savings glut. You don't even have the resources you need for today, never mind saving for tomorrow.

artiste-de-decrottage , December 22, 2017 at 1:54 pm

Aye, that's exactly how I understand it, so it is not exactly a chicken-or-the-egg conflation to try to distinguish a savings glut from a lack of demand.

James McFadden , December 22, 2017 at 3:25 pm

You seem to have missed the point. The problem is wealth distribution. Mainstream economists don't distinguish who has the savings in their simplistic models. When the rich already have a widget in every room of their mansion, they are not going to buy more widgets no matter how low the price of widgets sink. And when the poor have no money, they will not be able to buy the widgets no matter how much they want them. Demand is not just a function of price. To increase demand, we need a more equitable form of wealth distribution.

Skip Intro , December 23, 2017 at 9:30 am

One major difference, according to the author, is that the lack of aggregate demand exists, while the savings glut does not. The fact of companies sitting on liquidity, is detached from investment, for which they borrow. That investment is lacking because they do not see good investments, because of a lack of aggregate demand. if they did invest, it would not be constrained by their 'savings'.

Larry , December 22, 2017 at 12:58 pm

"But this time is different: the glut in savings supply is so large that banks cannot get rid of all the loanable funds even when they offer firms free loans -- that is, even after they reduce the interest rate to zero, firms are not willing to borrow more in order to invest."

That needs some explanation. Banks are not offering US businesses free money (excerpt briefly during the Crash). BBB bonds yields are aprox 4.3% -- and most businesses cannot borrow at that rate (excerpt when posting collateral).

For comparison over long time horizons, the real (ex-CPI) BBB corporate bond rate is 2.5% to 3% -- in the middle of its range from 1952-1980.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/BAA

John Wright , December 22, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Banks are enjoying the privilege of loaning excess deposits to a risk free client, the Federal Reserve.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/EXCSRESNS

This is at 1.5% per https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/reqresbalances.htm as of 12-14-2017

Why should banks risk lending money to entities who might not pay it back?

Loan it to the Fed at 1.5%

Altandmain , December 22, 2017 at 1:17 pm

The real reason why the political system won't make any effort to address aggregate demand is because it would help the people.

I suspect that the elite know the truth. They just want to pretend to be ignorant to prevent the system from helping the people who need it.

Let's bring up Michal Kalecki again:
https://mronline.org/2010/05/22/political-aspects-of-full-employment/

We have considered the political reasons for the opposition to the policy of creating employment by government spending. But even if this opposition were overcome -- as it may well be under the pressure of the masses -- the maintenance of full employment would cause social and political changes which would give a new impetus to the opposition of the business leaders. Indeed, under a regime of permanent full employment, the 'sack' would cease to play its role as a 'disciplinary measure. The social position of the boss would be undermined, and the self-assurance and class-consciousness of the working class would grow. Strikes for wage increases and improvements in conditions of work would create political tension. It is true that profits would be higher under a regime of full employment than they are on the average under laissez-faire, and even the rise in wage rates resulting from the stronger bargaining power of the workers is less likely to reduce profits than to increase prices, and thus adversely affects only the rentier interests. But 'discipline in the factories' and 'political stability' are more appreciated than profits by business leaders. Their class instinct tells them that lasting full employment is unsound from their point of view, and that unemployment is an integral part of the 'normal' capitalist system.

In other words, one potential reason for business to oppose any efforts at addressing the problem is that the people would have more bargaining power. The elite are not after absolute wealth or power, but relative power over the rest of us.

Imagine for example if the alternative was passed say some form of social democracy with full employment and MMT policy.

This would undermine in their view their ability to dominate over the rest of us. Now they may arguably be richer (ex: we might see more money for productive parts of society like say, disease research), but they are willing to give that up for dominating us. That is what we are up against.

Mike , December 23, 2017 at 10:17 am

If what you say is true (re social democracy + MMT policies), how then to consider for even one second the further existence of a business cadre dedicated to upending such an agreement? We always theorize as if an actual resistance to "our" policies will melt away with the displacement of elite political control. I remember Chile and the "strikes" called to bring down Allende.

The innocence of our imaginations is not only disturbing, but dangerous. Once power is gained and capital has been put in its place, the fight begins right there, anew. Unless we wish to fall into Stalinist methods of "resolution", consideration for alternate methods of economic control, and an anticipation of backlash, are in demand if the "people" are to prevail.

Mark Anderlik , December 23, 2017 at 10:33 am

In my experience as a union organizer and negotiator the opposition by many employers to unions is not particularily because of money, but because of power and the erosion of the employer's grip of it by the collective action of workers. Many times in my experience employers have spent a boatload more money on fighting workers and hiring union-busting attorneys than whatever wage and benefit increase is being proposed. These employers are acting from their political self-interest rather than the narrow economic self-interest that is commonly assumed.

Cat Burglar , December 23, 2017 at 3:43 pm

Great comments -- the motivation behind the ideas is a need for power and control.

You can look at the first 20 years of the Cold War as a domestic experiment in social control: incomes were allowed to rise for most people, and inequality was moderated in the interest of politically consolidating the country to support arming and fighting the war.

By the early 70s our handlers -- as shown in the Powell Memo, say -- had tired of the experiment. With more income, free time, and education, women, students, non-white people, and the newly prosperous working class were entering into contention on every terrain imaginable -- and that had to reduced to a manageable level. So they "leaned-out the mix", reduced income for most people, and bumped up the level of indebtedness and indoctrination.

Now the fuel-air mix is so lean that the engine is starting to miss (for example, the Trump election and the Sanders challenge to the Dem elite). But it looks like they have no other idea but to double-down on austerity. I guess they assume they can maintain global financial and military hegemony on the backs of a sick, unfit, indebted, and politically fractious population -- an iffy proposition. No wonder they seem desperate.

paul , December 22, 2017 at 2:03 pm

unemployment is an integral part of the 'normal' capitalist system.

That is both the long and short of it.

To engineer the scarcity of the ability to sustain is the the greatest sin

Paul Hirschman , December 22, 2017 at 2:46 pm

The Trump/Republican tax law tells us (if we needed another message) that the link between economic policy and economic theory is so weak as the bring into question the point of theorizing in the first place, apart, of course, from convincing (semi)-smart but fearful people to remain timid in the face of powerful lunacy. Government spending to replace worn out capital, to satisfy basic material needs of the population, and to underwrite investment in an environmental and educational future worth creating is, OBVIOUSLY, a no-no to Wall Street, war profiteers, and the large population of yes-men and women who promote fear among the middle class. We should spend less time contesting economic thinking that is nonsense. Instead why not spend time proposing and explaining fairly obvious fiscal strategies that will promote a better society, as well as the time that will be needed to defend these life-affirming proposals against the scholastic nonsense that our saltwater and freshwater scaredy-cat friends will put out every day to explain why what we propose will wreck Civilization. Let's go on the offense for a change.

redolent , December 22, 2017 at 8:14 pm

let's go on the offensive for a change

precisely, but for the forementioned scholastic nonsense of our salty and fresh feline friends, one would need a salient and orchestrated defense, as to why such meddling with traditional economic trajectories, will mean that: by foregoing my 'short sided 2018 increase in my personal deduction', will I actually allow myself to feel benign about the sagging state of civilization, that those 'cats of all breeds', have so eloquently perpetuated upon a 'generation of our peers'.

calling 'message central', the 'greater good awaits'. Yes

Jabawocky , December 22, 2017 at 2:50 pm

I still can't get my head around the fact that these models can persist in the economics literature whilst everyone knows they are based on flawed assumptions. In science these would quickly end up as part of some distant history. Someone would publish another model, and slowly everyone would start working with it if it had strong explanatory power. Imagine the grief that climate modellers would get if theirs models were so poorly grounded.

Left in Wisconsin , December 22, 2017 at 6:33 pm

You could almost think it was ideology trumping evidence.

Susan the other , December 22, 2017 at 2:57 pm

Thank you for this post. It was as good as Michael Hudson and all the clear thinkers you post for us. Since we got rid of Greenspan (who admitted that interest rates had no effect on the economy but still freaked out about inflaltion), Bernanke and then Yellen have had better instincts – not straightforward, but better. If central banks know the loanable funds theory to be nonsense, the battle is mostly won. MMT will be the logical next step. Public spending/infrastructure is just good grassroots policy that serve everyone. Even dithering goofballs like Larry Summers. And, as implied above, public spending takes care of the always ignored problem of private debt levels which suck productive spending and investment out of the economy, because unemployment. It's hard to believe that academics have been so wrong-headed for so long without any evidence for their claims. Steve Keen's premise, that these academics ignore both the existence of private debt and the importance of dwindling energy sources is also addressed above. Storm's point – also made by both old hands and new MMT – that there is not a problem with inflation (too much) if there are slack resources seems to have morphed into an ossified rule whereby some inflexible academics see slack resources as scarce resources. What is slack is always a political definition. What is slack today is a filthy environment; there is a great surplus of it. Enormously slack. That's the good news.

cnchal , December 22, 2017 at 3:07 pm

What are the causes of secular stagnation?

Globalization is a disaster wherever you care to look.

Big corporations like Alphabet, Facebook and Microsoft are holding enormous amounts of liquidity . . .

A better example is Apple, with it's roughly 1/4 trillion dollar cash hoard, beaten out of their Chinese work force in collusion of the Chinese elite. With wages crushed here and there, because they don't want to pay anyone anything anywhere, where will demand come from? The Chinese peasant slaving away on an Apple farm has a few square feet of living space, like a broiler chicken in a Tyson cage so where is she going to put the new furniture she can't afford?

Banks create credit, money, and thus purchasing power. [ ] The vast majority of what we count as "money' in modern economies is created in this fashion: in the United Kingdom 98% of money takes this form .

The banks are the MMT practicing intermediary between the federal government and the peasants.

Enquiring Mind , December 23, 2017 at 11:19 am

Was the Tax Cut a Hail Mary to get more aggregate demand? Perhaps the Administration is practicing anti-loanable funds on the sly.

knowbuddhau , December 22, 2017 at 3:22 pm

So much goodness, don't know where to start. It's a long post. It's my day (singular) off. I'm going long. Deacon Blues* applies.

This:

Ever since Knut Wicksell's (1898) restatement of the doctrine, the loanable funds approach has exerted a surprisingly strong influence upon some of the best minds in the profession. Its appeal lies in the fact that it can be presented in digestible form in a simple diagram (as Figure 1), while its micro-economic logic matches the neoclassical belief in the 'virtue of thrift' and Max Weber's Protestant Ethic, which emphasize austerity, savings (before spending!) and delayed gratification as the path to bliss.

Now we're talking. This puts the doctrine in the context of its parent beliefs.

The way I see it, beliefs:economics as operating system:application as mythology:religion. So shorter Storm: The LFF is a BS application for a BS OS.

Been dawning on me lately how neoliberalism is the spawn of a degenerate parent belief system, too. I was even thinking of Weber just the other day.

By speaking in apparently objective, pragmatic, "realistic" terms, public figures are notorious for "dog-whistling" their occult beliefs in terms their congregations hear loud and clear. When Her Royal Clinton's even more notoriously damned to hell half the population as "deplorables," she tipped her hand. The obscure term, ephors, is very instructive here.

To refesh the readers memory, "Schumpeter (1934, p. 74) called the money-creating banker 'the ephor of the exchange economy' -- someone who by creating credit (ex nihilo) is pre-financing new investments and innovation and enables "the carrying out of new combinations, authorizes people, in the name of society as it were, to form them."

Not so fast, though. Who were the original ephors?

Herodotus claimed that the institution was created by Lycurgus, while Plutarch considers it a later institution. It may have arisen from the need for governors while the kings were leading armies in battle. The ephors were elected by the popular assembly, and all citizens were eligible for election. They were forbidden to be reelected. They provided a balance for the two kings, who rarely cooperated with each other. Plato called them tyrants who ran Sparta as despots, while the kings were little more than generals. Up to two ephors would accompany a king on extended military campaigns as a sign of control, and they held the authority to declare war during some periods in Spartan history.[2]

According to Plutarch,[3] every autumn, at the crypteia, the ephors would pro forma declare war on the helot population so that any Spartan citizen could kill a helot without fear of blood guilt.[4] This was done to keep the large helot population in check.

The ephors did not have to kneel down before the Kings of Sparta and were held in high esteem by the citizens, because of the importance of their powers and because of the holy role they earned throughout their functions.

Ain't that something. We don't call it "class war" for nothing. More on the crypteia:

The Crypteia or Krypteia (Greek: κρυπτεία krupteía from κρυπτός kruptós, "hidden, secret things") was an ancient Spartan state institution involving young Spartan men. Its goal and nature are still a matter of discussion and debate among historians, but some scholars (Wallon) consider the Krypteia to be a kind of secret police and state security force organized by the ruling classes of Sparta, whose purpose was to terrorize the servile helot population. Others (Köchly, Wachsmuth) believe it to be a form of military training, similar to the Athenian ephebia.

So Schumpeter's metaphor is way too apt for comfort. Gets right under my skin.

For a modern equivalent of the pro forma declaration of civil war, I'm thinking "election cycle." Hippie-punching and all that goes a long way back, eh?

Let's cut to the chase: what's all this talk of econ as religion telling us? ISTM arguing with neoliberals as they frame the debate is like arguing with theologians in their terms. My learning psych professor, Robert Bolles, regarding the dismantling of ascendant BS models, always said, you don't take down an enormous tree leaf by leaf, you go where it meets the ground. Where does neoliberalism meet the ground? And its parent belief system?

Neoliberalism is so poorly grounded, it's shorting out all over the place. This could be easier than it looks. Storm's argument is compelling (at least to this newbie). What are its other weakest links? (Not being rhetorical here. I really don't know. A little help?)

Speaking of Weber, one of the major factors in the Reformation was the utter failure of the Catholic church to be able to produce a valid calendar . The trouble is of course, in their mythos, you have to perform the proper rituals at the proper time and often in the proper place, or you will fry in hell forever and ever amen.

Obviously, then, the calculation of the equinox assumed considerable and understandable importance. If the equinox was wrong, then Easter was celebrated on the wrong day and the placement of most of the other observances -- such as the starts of Lent and Pentecost -- would also be in error.

As the Julian calendar was far from perfect, errors did indeed begin to creep into the keeping of time. Because of the inherent imprecision of the calendar, the calculated year was too long by 11 minutes and 14 seconds. The problem only grew worse with each passing year as the equinox slipped backwards one full day on the calendar every 130 years. For example, at the time of its introduction, the Julian calendar placed the equinox on March 25. By the time of the Council of Nicea in 325, the equinox had fallen back to March 21. By 1500, the equinox had shifted by 10 days.

The 10 days were of increasing importance also to navigation and agriculture, causing severe problems for sailors, merchants, and farmers whose livelihood depended upon precise measurements of time and the seasons. At the same time, throughout the Middle Ages, the use of the Julian calendar brought with it many local variations and peculiarities that are the constant source of frustration to historians. For example, many medieval ecclesiastical records, financial transactions, and the counting of dates from the feast days of saints did not adhere to the standard Julian calendar but reflected local adjustments. Not surprisingly, confusion was the result.

The Church Saves Time

[Doncha just love that succinct bit of myth-making? smh]

The Church was aware of the inaccuracy, and by the end of the 15th century there was widespread agreement among Church leaders that not celebrating Easter on the right day -- the most important and most solemn event on the calendar -- was a scandal.

A functioning mythology tells one how to be human right now. The Catholic church couldn't even tell people what date it was, putting not just ephemeral souls in peril should one die, even more of a daily dread in those days, but lives and property were increasingly at risk.

ISTM we're in an analogous situation. Our two high holies, Wall Street and Washington, DC, are increasingly irrelevant to us helots. They're of no use to us in ordering our daily lives. In fact, they've becoming openly hostile, dropping any pretense of governing for the common good, and I'm not referring only to Trump, eg, whatever happened to habeas corpus ? "If you like your health plan, you can keep it." The betrayals come fast and furious, too fast to keep up.

Others are rejecting science. A schism here, a schism there, pretty soon it all cracks up one day "outta nowhere." And I do mean "one day."

Moving right along, let's look at "the virtue of thrift."

Like the "virtues" of the LF fallacy, it arises from a parent belief system. This is from Some Call for Reclaiming the Virtue of Thrift (emphasis added).

In the formative years of United States history, prominent thinkers such as Ben Franklin promoted a "thrift ethic" that encouraged hard work, frugal spending on self and generous giving to charity, he asserted, maintaining "thrift" was simply the secular term for the religious stewardship principle . And institutions developed to support that ethic, he noted.

That's what I'm saying: secular institutions are the operationalizations, the applications, of belief systems, and further, we can study them instead of just saying "religion = bad = no further analysis required" and then dismissing it all out of hand.

As with LF-supply and LF-demand, secular and sectarian are not the independent variables they're made out to be, as argued so well by Cook & Ferguson right here on NC in The Real Economic Consequences of Martin Luther , eg, "[Henry VIII] did not abolish the papacy so much as take the pope's place." Same goes for today, IMNSHO: Our "secular" leaders are sectarian high priests in mufti.

The Baptist article also goes on to say what the flock people should do: ignore Wall St. and DC. Unsuprisingly, it's also chock full of punching downwards and victim-blaming. Payday lending and lotteries are to blame, they say. People just need to be more thrifty , which apparently means, impoverish yourself for the betterment of your betters. Or else.

When HRC damned half of us to Hell, she was dog-whistling loud and clear in a tradition going at least as far back as the wars of the ephors on the helots. When the high priests of our high holy temples of finance tell us we need more austerity, although they speak in terms apparently objective and especially dispassionate, it's nothing but the failed preachings of the failed priests of a failed church.

Looked at as comparative mythology, and speaking empirically as well (much obliged to the present author and our hosts, sincerely) neoliberalism is no way of being human.

Sure, us nerds get that. But wonky discussions don't move people. The execrable Mario Cuomo is credited with saying, "You campaign in poetry, you govern in prose," and I think it's profoundly true. Telling my friends we've debunked the Loanable Funds Fallacy will get me nowhere.

Oy vey. The immense satisfaction I had been feeling, of seeing through neoliberalism all the way to its core, sure was short lived. Now I need to know what MMT says about being human. This is what happens when you start thinking in words, you know. It never ends!

I've heard Steve Keen's writing won't be much help in popularizing MMT in time. Who's a witty MMTer? Who can express its way of being human in one-liners? Who's punchy?

(Administrivia: "Suppose there is an exogenous (unexplained) *rise* in the average propensity to save. In reponse, the LF-supply curve shifts down ." Shouldn't that be "drop"?)

* This is the night of the expanding man
I take one last drag as I approach the stand
I cried when I wrote this song
Sue me if I play too long
This brother is free
I'll be what I want to be

knowbuddhau , December 22, 2017 at 4:23 pm

Oops left out two links https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephor

knowbuddhau , December 22, 2017 at 4:23 pm

And https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crypteia

susan the other , December 23, 2017 at 12:11 pm

Very interesting rant, Knowbuddhau. Imo all we have to do is get over gold. It made sense before the days of sovereign fiat that you saved your coins before you spent them. How else? But fiat is the essential spirit of money while gold was/is a craze. And the Neoliberals are unenlightened just like the Neocons against whom they pretend to react. But they are reactionaries regardless. That's their problem. All reaction, no action. When Storm refers to Kalecki above saying the original sin of economics was confusing stocks with flows, I take it to mean confusing fiat with gold in a sense. Once upon a time a store of value (a pouch full of gold coins) was the same thing as a medium of exchange. Not any more. Fiat is the only mechanism, spent in advance to promote social well being, that can create an "economy" in this world of zillions of people.

JustAnObserver , December 22, 2017 at 5:16 pm

Isn't a bit of an irony that the academic papers being debunked here were commissioned by the Institute for *New* Economic Thinking ? Sad to see its also been corrupted by the neoliberal virus (political Ebola).

ewmayer , December 22, 2017 at 8:11 pm

The author writes about the fuctional LF paradigm: "Banks, in this narrative, do not create money themselves and hence cannot pre -finance investment by new money. They only move it between savers and investors." -- Note that that narrative doesn't even make sense *within* the loanable-funds model, because with fractional reserve banking, even if banks were required to loan against pre-existing deposits, they could amplify each dollar of same into multiple units of newly-created credit money. The fact that what really happens goes even further and entirely omits the need for pre-existing funds from the banks' monetary legerdemain is the reason for my pet term for the "loans create deposits" reality: "fictional reserve banking."

Dan , December 23, 2017 at 12:40 am

Aggregate demand increases investment only to the extant that it increases profitable opportunities. If costs remain constant, then obviously an increase in demand increases profitability. But an increase in wages doesn't merely increase aggregate demand, it also increases aggregate costs because that's what a wage is to a firm. If aggregate wages were boosted by $1 trillion, consumption will be boosted by less than 100% of that (workers will save some of their increased income) while firms will have to pay the full $1 trillion in increased wages if they are to employ the workers. So how is increasing wages supposed to increase profitability and investment? It seems like it would do the opposite.

We really need to look more at profit. The aggregate profit rate is determined by the cost of the total capital employed in relation to the output. If the costs rise faster than productivity growth, then profitability falls. How do aggregate costs rise? By capital accumulation, by an increase in savings and investment. Thus, it would seem that stagnation can only be reached if too much capital has been accumulated without a corresponding increase in productivity. This hypothesis doesn't rely on the loanable funds theory (it doesn't matter whether the money exists before it is spent), but it is more similar to the savings glut explanation because it is the accumulation of capital that leads to the fall in profitability. The suppression of wages is an effect, an attempt to create profitable opportunities when there are none.

Steven Greenberg , December 23, 2017 at 11:29 am

Your model is correct when you limit yourself to the variables in your model. Real life economies are complex, dynamic interactions of many variables. At different times some variable become more important than others.

I think your variable, capital accumulation, is itself a complicated mix of many variables. Sometimes the cost of "capital accumulation" may be controlling, and sometimes not. It also depends on which variables within capital accumulation are having the most impact.

Steven Greenberg , December 23, 2017 at 10:42 am

I think one of the major problems of the theory of supply and demand is that it may be true as a static model (all other things being equal), but the economy (and life) are not static. Unless you can take dynamic effects into account, then this static or even quasi-static model will just not represent what actually happens. This is just another way of saying what this article says. Over time, the supply curve and the demand curve interact. There is hardly, if any, point in time when all other things aren't changing.

In my world of simulating the behavior of integrated circuits, the problem involves non-linear differential equations, not just non-linear algebraic equations.

Steven Greenberg , December 23, 2017 at 10:55 am

Here is another problem. " by the national accounts[,] identity of saving and investment (for closed economies),"

Accounting is also a static snapshot of a dynamic system. A bank creates a loan payable in let's say 30 years. The spending occurs immediately. In accounting terms these two items balance. However, on impact on the economy, they do not balance. Why else would capitalism have noticed the value of buy now, pay later?

Steven Greenberg , December 23, 2017 at 11:02 am

This is no longer a chicken and egg problem of which came first, the chicken or the egg. In real life, there are lots of chickens and lots of eggs. Which came first is irrelevant. Chickens create eggs and eggs create chickens.

Steven Greenberg , December 23, 2017 at 11:23 am

Models are a simplification of reality. They apply best when the things that were simplified away don't matter much. They fail when the things that were simplified away become important. So, when does the loanable funds model apply?

IMHO, the loanable funds model applies when there is a run on the bank. When the fractional reserve banking system is running smoothly, the loanable funds model is irrelevant. That's why banks have reserves and monetary systems have central reserve banks. These reserve systems let us ignore loanable funds models.

Cat Burglar , December 23, 2017 at 3:56 pm

These are great comments! You put the whole process in time.

[Dec 23, 2017] IMF demands that the price of gas be raised for Ukrainians

Dec 23, 2017 | rusnewstoday24.ru

As reported by the permanent representative of the International Monetary Fund in the Ukraine, Jost Longman, the Kiev authorities should increase Ukrainian gas tariffs to the level of import parity. Longman argues that an increase in gas prices will have a positive effect on the development of the free market and will teach the Ukrainians to use natural gas economically. "In the end, the final goal is the implementation of a free gas market. On the way to this, it is important to continue to adjust the price of gas in accordance with the price of imports", said Longman. "One price for all types of consumer also eliminates the space for corruptio," he added.

[Dec 23, 2017] Court stopped supply of gas from Slovakia to Ukraine

Dec 23, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com
Moscow Exile , December 21, 2017 at 8:41 pm

Court stopped supply of gas from Slovakia to Ukraine
22 Dec 2017, 00:56

On 20 Dec., a court in Slovakia stopped gas supplies to "Naftogaz of Ukraine". The decision was made pursuant to the decision of the Stockholm arbitration over a claim made by the Italian company IUGas that its Ukrainian consumer owed it money.

The total amount of the claim, including interest and penalties, is approximately $21 million. An arbitration ruling was accepted on 19 December 2012 and relates to unpaid 2007 transactions .

Under international law, if the defendant has not fulfilled the resolution of the arbitration, the plaintiff may apply to the courts of other states with a request that the ruling be executed.

"Naftogaz of Ukraine" is analyzing the situation to determine its next steps, according to the Ukrainian edition "Mirror of the Week".

For 11 months of 2017, "Naftogaz of Ukraine" had bought in Eastern Europe 20.9 billion cubic metres of gas. Most of the supplies -- more than 8 billion cubic metres -- are in Slovakia.

As written in iz.ru, arbitration is under consideration in Stockholm as regards the lawsuit made by "Gazprom" against "Naftogaz", the decision on which will be issued by the court no later than February next year. The adjusted amount of the claims made by the Russian company was more than $ 37 billion.

All this is the Aggressor State's doing!

For the sake of freedom and democracy, the Ukraine must be supported!

[Dec 23, 2017] Gazprom has responded to Naftogaz's statements about victory in court

Dec 23, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

Moscow Exile , December 22, 2017 at 7:24 am

https://www.rbc.ru/rbcfreenews/5a3d01ed9a79471d28355203

Gazprom has responded to Naftogaz's statements about victory in court

The Stockholm arbitration has satisfied most of Gazprom's claims made against Naftogaz Ukraine regarding payment for supplied gas, the company has said in a statement. In Moscow. They stressed that the main demands of the Ukrainian side by the court had been rejected.

The court did not recognize the right of Naftogaz to review the price of gas, the deliveries of which were carried out from May 2011 to April 2014. Also, the Ukrainian side was denied recovery of overpayment. Gazprom noted that the court found it necessary to apply the "take or pay" principle (annual payment of a minimum amount of gas) before the expiry of the contract.

"Naftogaz" has to pay back $2 billion in arrears and interest for late payment to Gazprom. The Ukrainian side is also obliged from next year to take 5 billion cubic metres from Russia annually.

Earlier on Friday, Naftogaz said that the court had awarded the victory to the Ukrainian side. In Kiev, they stressed that Gazprom's "take-or-pay" requirements had been "completely" rejected by the court, and the gas price for the second quarter of 2014 had been lowered to $ 352 per thousand cubic metres.

The court considered contracts for the supply of gas from Russia to the Ukraine, as well as gas transit through the Ukraine. They were signed back in 2009. The Ukraine, insisted "Gazprom", did not get any gas 2012-2014, and also in individual quarters of 2015 and 2016. "Naftogaz" asked the court to review the gas prices, and that overpayment be reimbursed and that the ban on further resale of gas be cancelled.

Kremlin propaganda from a "Kremlin controlled" newspaper?

Moscow Exile , December 22, 2017 at 7:30 am Moscow Exile , December 22, 2017 at 7:35 am
Reuters reports the Ukrainian "victory", of course:

Ukraine's Naftogaz: court win over Gazprom worth over $75 bln

Moscow Exile , December 22, 2017 at 7:43 am
Reuters:

Both Ukraine and Russia claim victory in gas dispute

"Naftogaz won the gas sales arbitration case against Gazprom on all issues in dispute," Naftogaz said in an emailed statement.

It said the ruling was worth around $75 billion to Naftogaz in the long term, but did not give a breakdown on how it reached the estimate. [My stress -- ME]

Meanwhile Gazprom said the court had satisfied most of Gazprom's claims and ruled that the main terms of the contract between Naftogaz and Gazprom were valid.

Gazprom said the Stockholm court had ordered Naftogaz to pay more than $2 billion to Gazprom for gas supply arrears and that it had also ordered Naftogaz to buy 5 bcm of gas from Gazprom annually from 2018.

Estimated $75 billion in the "long term"?

Have to pay $2 billion to Gazprom in arrears now (not mention interest).

From 2018 (i.e. in just over a week's time) have to buy annually 5 bcm of gas off the "aggressor state".

Moscow Exile , December 22, 2017 at 11:23 am
Western media, e.g. Deutsche Welle, is now all singing of a Naftogaz victory.
marknesop , December 22, 2017 at 4:50 pm
Of course; that's what Klimkin told them. Why should they check? Klimkin is always reliable, and I'm sure he tweeted a press statement directly to them. Let them hold a Naftogaz victory party if that's what they feel like doing. Just don't spend Russia's money on it. Because I notice Ukraine has to pay Russia. I did not see anything in there about Russia having to pay Ukraine. And so Ukraine can have all of that kind of victories it wants.
Cortes , December 22, 2017 at 2:01 pm
Is the 5 bcm a year for the domestic market? Asking because I thought the cutoff for transit for gas to Europe was 2019.
Moscow Exile , December 22, 2017 at 2:55 pm
Ultimately, the court greatly reduced the amount of gas that Ukraine is contractually obligated to buy from Russia. From 2018, "Naftogaz" should annually take and pay for up to 5 billion cubic metres instead of the original 52 billion cubic metres in any case it means the resumption of gas purchases in Russia, which stopped in 2015, since when "Naftogaz" has been buying all its fuel through reverse flow from Europe.

... ... ...

[Dec 23, 2017] Russia pipeline is investment risk, EU commissioner warns

Dec 23, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

et Al , December 22, 2017 at 2:06 pm

EUObserver.com: Interview: Russia pipeline is investment risk, EU commissioner warns https://euobserver.com/energy/140404

Investors should "think twice" about putting money into Nord Stream 2 due to "uncertainties" around the Russian pipeline, the EU energy commissioner told EUobserver.

"I would really think twice, or many more times, simply because there are a lot of uncertainties," Maros Sefcovic said in an interview.

"It's the decision of the project promoters if they want to proceed in this atmosphere which might lead to legal disputes down the line," he said

"Nord Stream 2 is supported by five major western European energy companies that have each committed up to almost €1 billion to the implementation of the pipeline," the consortium's Sebastian Sass said.

"It shows that there is both market demand and great confidence in Nord Stream 2," he added.

Stefan Meister, an expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank in Berlin, also said Russia had little to worry about from the EU.

"In Germany the overall impression is, that the project will come Merkel is not against it. That means she supports it," he said.

Meister said the fact Gazprom was prepared to dig into its own pockets meant "the investment risks are limited". He added that energy companies were used to working "in an even more risky environment" in other parts of the world.

"Except the US sanctions, there are no real risks to stop the project," he said
####

Plenty more of Sefcovic blowing hot air out of every orifice at the link. Did someone slip him some cocaine instead of sugar in his coffee before the interview? All mouth and no trousers.

[Dec 23, 2017] The Saudi 'Cakewalk' Into Iran The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... I'd like to believe either the Repubs or Dems were the answer, except both are near unanimous in their support for the military industrial complex and its expanding wars. Note the 98-2 vote to make Russia a permanent enemy. I believe the resistors were bipartisan, lonely as they are in either party, in reality separate branches of an imperial War Party. ..."
"... Let me be the dink who reminds you: Peak Oil ..."
"... As a clever newspaper writer said about Jesse Ventura: Jesse is a lot smarter than most folks think he is, but not nearly as smart as he thinks he is. Like Jesse, Trump is smart enough to avoid unnecessary war. However, war may just become "necessary" when the heat of his Russia investigation becomes unbearable, and Trump needs the ultimate distraction. When (not if) that happens, either North Korea or Iran will be in trouble -- perhaps both. Millions will most likely die, billions of dollars will be spent, and the US will create an entirely new generation of terrorists. This will not end well. ..."
"... EngineerScotty wrote: "The foreign policy of a President Hillary Clinton wouldn't be the amateur hour that we've gotten so far with Trump" No, it would be the ruthlessly effective professionalism of the reset with Russia and the ouster of Qaddafi. /sarc She wanted and wants Assad deposed. How well would that have gone? ..."
"... "In the meantime, Frack Baby Frack! The less oil we have to import from there, Venezuela, or anyplace crazy the better." That would be sane. But the elites have decided to export it at a cut rate, to undermine Russia as the supplier in Europe, in order to foment regime change by crashing the Russian economy. Why did you think we had such low fuel prices all of a sudden? ..."
"... No, the fuel extracted from American soil does not accrue to the benefit of the American people, but to the profits and plans of elites ..."
"... That would be sane. But the elites have decided to export it at a cut rate, to undermine Russia as the supplier in Europe, in order to foment regime change by crashing the Russian economy. Why did you think we had such low fuel prices all of a sudden? ..."
"... No, the fuel extracted from American soil does not accrue to the benefit of the American people, but to the profits and plans of elites. ..."
"... Oil obtained by fracking is far more expensive to produce than oil obtained by simply drilling a well in the Arabian Desert and quickly finding a gusher. The US can meet its domestic needs, but isn't that great of a net exporter -- prices have to be sufficiently high before high-volume production becomes cost-effective. ..."
"... Noah and Engineer Scotty -- There is a reasonable compromise. Both of you are right. Trump is a disaster and we know Clinton was terrible. There is no point in arguing about whether she would be worse. I happen to think In some ways she wouldn't be as bad. She wouldn't be engaged in stupid twitter fights with dictators. But she might be better at leading us into some stupid war in Syria. Trump will stumble into some war with no support. Clinton would have had lots of support for whatever mindlessly stupid bloodbath she wanted to start. ..."
"... One of my biggest concerns about Trump's foreign policy–and a major difference from how Hillary would have governed–is his utter disdain for diplomacy. As noted, he (and Tillerson) have been busy setting the State Department ablaze, and many, many, many seasoned diplomats (career civil servants, not political appointees) have left Foggy Bottom, some of their own accord, some not. Some Trump defenders claim this is part of "draining the swamp", and many critics claim this is a purge of anyone not loyal to Trump personally–and these two claims may be opposite sides of the same coin. ..."
Dec 23, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Pavlos December 20, 2017 at 11:08 pm

Trump won't get dragged into war, although his conniving nature may try to make it look like that if it serves some ulterior motive of his. Trump will race on his own volition (not get dragged by others) to war because he's already been chomping at the bit for war as evident in how he's been baiting Iran and N. Korea alike, just as Bush baited Saddam Huessein, then bait and switched Osama Bin Laden for Saddam. So if not war with one (Iran), then with the other (N. Korea), or with both.

Why? Because like all Republican politicians, Trump's a businessman and proud of it, (Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.) And because war is good for American business, a lesson that was learned from WWII from which was created the military-industrial-complex and the Permanent War Economy under which we've lived ever since.

That bit's key to understanding the whole unwavering GOP attack on social services and desire to deregulate and privatize everything, not because of evil "socialism" as the Republican constituency is hypnotized with propaganda into believing, but because there's no money to be made in government expenditures otherwise. The whole GOP agenda has been and is about public expense for private gain. All the blather about shrinking the government is smokescreen. The real agenda is about directing all government spending towards private contractors with none wasted on things like social services, medicare, or Social Security.

Economic aspects of politics can't be ignored and separated from social aspects of politics which is how conservatism in America has helped create the current political mess, by turning a blind eye and dittohead to economic matters in order to push the chosen, preferred social agenda.

As Coolidge said, "The business of America is business." So since the US is ruled by money of markets, there can be no getting one's moral back up and all Jesus over social immorality, only to ignore the immorality of the marketplace and thereby fail to push for a moral economy along with a moral society. Such misidentification of the problem will only result in missing the mark, in inappropriate rather than on the mark effective solutions to problems.

Trump is simply a braggart who likes to exaggerate by talking in superlatives, so it's fitting that Trump ran on the GOP ticket, because he's but another child of the Father of Lies, who superlatively lies about his wealth being billions instead of millions to swell his pride in being a mammon worshipper, and going to war is and will be as it certainly has been part and parcel of such hubris.

Fran Macadam , says: December 20, 2017 at 11:22 pm
To be fair, the Saudi dictators have always been best friends with America's elites – think Bandar Bush, the grounding of all air traffic in the United States after 9/11, except the Saudi evacuation planes spiriting Saudi royals out of the country so they could not be questioned. And there is the locus of the Likud Israeli party friendship with the Saudis, and Trump is certainly nothing if not onside with his good friend, the Israeli PM.
Fran Macadam , says: December 20, 2017 at 11:40 pm
I'd like to believe either the Repubs or Dems were the answer, except both are near unanimous in their support for the military industrial complex and its expanding wars. Note the 98-2 vote to make Russia a permanent enemy. I believe the resistors were bipartisan, lonely as they are in either party, in reality separate branches of an imperial War Party.
mohammad , says: December 20, 2017 at 11:50 pm
Make no mistake: if there is going to be an attack on Iran by Americans, it is not because MbS wants it, it is because the Americans love war.

I am convinced that most (some 90%) Americans are open or closeted Neo-cons/liberal-interventionists/war-hawks. Some are shamelessly and openly so (John Bolton), but many are so without showing it or even being aware of it. The hawk in them is restlessly waiting for an opening, an excuse, to come out and proclaim what they have ever been

leonard , says: December 21, 2017 at 12:38 am
Don't worry, w Captain Marmalade at the helm, the US will mess this all up by itself just like it has again and again and again.
Kronsteen1963 , says: December 21, 2017 at 1:04 am
Bush 41 dragged us into a coalition war over Kuwait. Clinton dragged us into a coalition war in the Balkans. Bush 43 dragged us into a war in Iraq. Obama dragged us into a secret war when he destabilized Syria and Lybia, which unleashed ISIS. All for the right reasons, of course (sarcasm).

You might be right, but I fail to see how that would be different than the last 30 years.

charles cosimano , says: December 21, 2017 at 1:42 am
Finally.

It should have been done 37 years ago.

Kronsteen1963 , says: December 21, 2017 at 1:47 am
BTW, Politico has a story about how the Obama Administration shot down DEA drug trafficking investigations of Hezbollah to support the Iran nuclear deal. I would like to read your comments about it, particularly in light of the comments you made above about Trump.

https://www.politico.com/interactives/2017/obama-hezbollah-drug-trafficking-investigation/

Pro ivic , says: December 21, 2017 at 2:57 am
Parents always tell kids to choose their friends carefully. With pals like Netanyahu and the Saudi bogus "crown prince", Trump clearly didn't follow that advice.
Nelson , says: December 21, 2017 at 3:12 am
That looked like a promotional video made by defense contractors. Anyway it's crazy. If they go to war I hope we stay out of it.
ludo , says: December 21, 2017 at 3:49 am
That video looks like a Nazi's wet dream, I mean the undiluted fascistic element is overwhelming, it's like getting a peek at an alternate dimension, not even a society, of pure militaristic "hathos" festooned by a limitless cloud of lies.

The worst of humanity is engrafted in that video, by which, I mean the unalloyed lying stupidity of war: imperialist expansionism, nationalist revanchism, and plutocratic supremacism, haloed by the grey mist–the dehumanzing pixelated mist–of the most dehumanizing endeavor man can undertake, for the most dehumanizing of modern causes: fascistic capitalism, the kind that fueled WWII (In this latter case, under the guise of religious supremacism or religious survivalism, but, in any case, only an obvious guise as far as the grotesque House of Saud is characteristically concerned).

Adamant , says: December 21, 2017 at 6:03 am
Echoing Noah above, this doesn't appear to be a production of the Saudi government, but having a contingent of the Saudi population gung-ho for a Sunni/Shi'a Ragnarok is concerning in itself. Both KSA and Iran will fight each other to the last Yemeni before any direct conflict arises.

This is the scenario that should be keeping us all up at night:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/20/exclusive-us-making-plans-bloody-nose-military-attack-north/

Floridan , says: December 21, 2017 at 6:04 am
The greatest myth of warfare -- "Once our forces invade the people will rise up against their government and welcome us a liberators."
AB , says: December 21, 2017 at 6:42 am
Fran Macadam: To be fair, the Saudi dictators have always been best friends with America's elites – think Bandar Bush, the grounding of all air traffic in the United States after 9/11, except the Saudi evacuation planes spiriting Saudi royals out of the country so they could not be questioned.

It wasn't the royals -- it was the bin Laden family itself. The people who knew Osama best. I never understood why we didn't insists that, with all airplanes grounded, they had to have a US Air Force pilot -- who then would have flown them to Gitmo for a sit-down on their newly famous relative. Instead the highest levels of government -- how high did you have to go to get permission to fly? -- broke into their busy schedules to be briefed and let them go.

The whole thing still stinks. We really need to have an investigation into the role of Saudi Arabia in American foreign policy; especially the Iraq Wars.

In the meantime, Frack Baby Frack! The less oil we have to import from there, Venezuela, or anyplace crazy the better.

muad'dib , says: December 21, 2017 at 7:17 am

President Trump's new best friend, MBS, is going to get us dragged into a new war in the region. Watch.

But her E-mails Good Thing the witch from Chappaqua isn't in the White House

ROTFLMAO!!!

If the Saudis are foolish enough to try that they will get their ass so thoroughly kicked that "who were the Al Saud?" will a trivial pursuit question on par with "Who were the Romanov's?" 10 years from now, and if the US is foolish enough to let them do that, watch the Global Economy collapse as the Strait of Hormuz gets closed for a few years.

Dr Talon,
The best military in the Middle East is Hezbollah (Trained & equipped by the Iranian, blooded and forged by the Israelis) the only thing they don't have is an air force. Let them have a half way decent air wing, and they would be on par or better than the USMC.

Duke Leto,
All that beautiful hardware has to be put to good use, after all if you don't use it you can't replace it. Think of all that beautiful money to be made in hardware replacement

Noah,

Trump also declined to support Kurdish independence, which the Israeli right supports and would have undermined Iran (which has a restive Kurdish minority) and Iran ally Iraq.

Supporting the Kurds would have pissed off his best buddy Erdogan, in that Turkey has the largest Kurdish minority population of all the Middle Eastern countries (about 20% of population) and the largest military in the Middle East. Not a good idea, especially if you don't want them to become buddy buddy with their eastern neighbor.

Oh, did I mention that Saudi Arabia has a substantial Shiite minority (10 to 15% of the population) who isn't exactly thrilled to live under Wahhabi rule.

Watching the Saudis (a country that has to import plumbers from South Asia because it's below the dignity of the locals to be plumbers) getting their asses handed to them, watching the Dumpster's poll rating jump up to the 80% mark before cratering down to 15%, watching the Trump recession that would follow would almost be worth it if I didn't have to suffer the consequences of "Real American's(TM)" idiocy. It would be almost as much fun as watching Brexit.

Michelle , says: December 21, 2017 at 8:05 am
And President Ted Cruz or Clinton would be different how?

It's a pretty safe assumption that a President Clinton would work to uphold the treaty her predecessor signed with Iran. Cruz, like the rest of the GOP hawks, would probably (like Trump) be actively working to undermine it and provoke Iran. She'd want more money for social and infrastrucure spending, less for military.

Pavlos has it right. The GOP (and a lot of Democrats) think war is good for business and are happy to funnel obscene amounts of money to the military-industrial complex under the guise of "national security."

Siarlys Jenkins , says: December 21, 2017 at 9:02 am
Underestimating Iran would be a mistake. Trying this in real life would make Iran, very roughly, into "Saudi Arabia's Vietnam."

"What is the national anthem of Saudi Arabia?"
"Onward, Christian Soldiers."

Reminds me of 1975, when I said that the Cuban army marching band was going to adopt a new theme song, "We Are Marching to Pretoria."

Alex (the one that likes Ike) , says: December 21, 2017 at 9:44 am
It depends on what you imply when saying that it has lit up Arab social media, Rod. "Damn those Saudis are strong!" type of reaction means that social media are lit up. "LOL, what sorry comedian a-holes those Saudis are!" type of reaction also means that social media are lit up.
Ark712 , says: December 21, 2017 at 9:49 am
So we are going to give North Korea a "Bloody nose" and invade Iran where they will welcome us as liberators with flower petals?

Is this what it will finally take Trump supporters to realize they made a mistake, or will they once again move the goal posts?

I am sure they will say "hurr-durr Clinton voted for the war", as if Republicans were not calling anyone against it a traitor.

collin , says: December 21, 2017 at 10:09 am
I can't decide if this truly 'government' backed or some Saudia wackos let their freak loose. At least the wackos are going after Iran and not the US. It is probably really nothing than an expensive Youtube comment but it does indicate that Saudia Arabia population really desires War somewhere and somehow.

Although this is probably forgotten in 1 month, the Middle East appears to be following similar paths as Europe in the 1900 – 1914. We have lots of secret Allies and treaties with enormous tensions that is hungry for a battle.

SDS , says: December 21, 2017 at 11:15 am
"And President Ted Cruz or Clinton would be different how?" Probably not at all .. Which is what's so tragic, really .
Gunner , says: December 21, 2017 at 12:05 pm
The Saudis couldn't invade a Dunkin Doughnuts without the West helping them.
TR , says: December 21, 2017 at 12:11 pm
Paul: Keep your jokes to yourself. They're too painful.

Noah172: Astute analysis and advice.

EngineerScotty , says: December 21, 2017 at 12:58 pm
The foreign policy of a President Hillary Clinton would probably be too hawkish for my tastes–and certainly she wouldn't enjoy strong relations with Russia (given evidence, in this hypothetical, that Putin was actively interfering in the election to support her opponent)–but it wouldn't be the amateur hour that we've gotten so far with Trump. Clinton would still have a functioning diplomatic corps, instead of sacking half the State Department. She wouldn't be trading insults with foreign heads of state on Twitter. She'd likely be not trying to undermine the Iran deal. And she'd not be performing fellatio on the likes of Netanyaho, Ergodan, and MbS, as Trump has been eagerly doing.

Really. At what point does the "as bad as Trump's foreign policy has been, Clinton wudda been worse" refrain stop? Trump is already the worst foreign policy president since LBJ–he only needs a Vietnam War to his name to blow past him. And he has none of Johnson's domestic achievements.

Hound of Ulster , says: December 21, 2017 at 1:24 pm
The last time an Arab dictator tried to attack the Iranians he could only get a draw that bankrupted him and lead, by a series of second-order consequences, to his downfall.

The Iranians had just, when they were attacked by Iraq, had thier revolution and had liquidated thier officer corps. Think about that. Iranians as polity may, for the most part, dislike the rule of the clerics, but they are intensely patriotic and will fight to the last man/woman to defend the Persian homeland. Underestimate them at your peril.

George , says: December 21, 2017 at 2:03 pm
When Iran's proxies in Yemen -- the Houthis -- are launching missiles at airports and the Royal Palace, I don't think this type video is very surprising and as propaganda goes really a big deal. It is pretty low level saber rattling if it is a Saudi Government produc, or what you would see a million times over among Americans if it is the work of just a bunch of young Saudi yahoos. Oh, and MSAGA -- Make Saudi Arabia Great Again!
leonard , says: December 21, 2017 at 2:09 pm
So Charles Cosimano. I'm assuming you'll be the first to sign up?
TTT , says: December 21, 2017 at 2:17 pm
Israel has never fought side-by-side with the US in any of the wars it has sent the us to fight [and die for and pay for] at the instigation of the settlers/occupiers.

Since the U.S. has never fought any wars for Israel, that makes the score 0:0 then.

Noah172 , says: December 21, 2017 at 2:23 pm
muad'dib wrote:

But her E-mails Good Thing the witch from Chappaqua isn't in the White House

What ignorant drivel. Clinton is plenty hawkish (she cheered on Trump's April missile strike on Assad, and urged him to go much further). Moreover, as I wrote above, this video seems to be youthful fan fiction, not carrying any Saudi government imprimatur (let alone endorsement from Trump). Rod is speculating that the US will eventually join Saudi Arabia in a war against Iran, but Rod is no seer, whatever his other attributes.

Supporting the Kurds would have pissed off his best buddy Erdogan

Poppycock. Trump is hardly Erdogan's poodle. Trump gave heavy armaments to the Syrian Kurds (O had limited their support to small arms) and wants to move our embassy to Jerusalem, both decisions angering Erdogan. Erdogan would also liked to have seen Assad deposed.

Elijah , says: December 21, 2017 at 4:23 pm
I'm not going to offer an opinion on the efficacy of Saudi Arabia's army, and neither should you. Remember how everyone warned us about Iraq's Republican Guard?) Few of us know what we're talking about. On the larger point: are you all taking drugs? Some video "lights up" Arab social media and therefore Trump is taking us to war against Iran?? What?!

Let me be the dink who reminds you: Peak Oil

Merry Christmas!

FoolMeOnce , says: December 21, 2017 at 4:48 pm
We should warn the Saudis not to choose vain, arrogant, bloodthirsty plutocrats as leaders. Oh .
grumpy realist , says: December 21, 2017 at 6:09 pm
Muad'dib:

+1000

(especially the Straits of Hormuz aspect. The Iranians just have to mine it so that one or more cargo ships get holed and got to the bottom at strategic bends and nobody ain't shipping no Saudi Oil nowhere. Have fun with $300/bbl oil economies, guys China will make out like a bandit, considering it's now the world leader in solar power.

james , says: December 21, 2017 at 6:31 pm
As a clever newspaper writer said about Jesse Ventura: Jesse is a lot smarter than most folks think he is, but not nearly as smart as he thinks he is. Like Jesse, Trump is smart enough to avoid unnecessary war. However, war may just become "necessary" when the heat of his Russia investigation becomes unbearable, and Trump needs the ultimate distraction. When (not if) that happens, either North Korea or Iran will be in trouble -- perhaps both. Millions will most likely die, billions of dollars will be spent, and the US will create an entirely new generation of terrorists. This will not end well.
Noah172 , says: December 21, 2017 at 6:58 pm
EngineerScotty wrote: "The foreign policy of a President Hillary Clinton wouldn't be the amateur hour that we've gotten so far with Trump" No, it would be the ruthlessly effective professionalism of the reset with Russia and the ouster of Qaddafi. /sarc She wanted and wants Assad deposed. How well would that have gone?

She wouldn't be trading insults with foreign heads of state on Twitter

Clinton has insulted Putin any number of times on social media and in interviews. On the Colbert program just last September, she claimed that he worked against her election because of sexism, and claimed that he "manspread" during a meeting with her.

And she'd not be performing fellatio on the likes of Netanyaho, Ergodan, and MbS

Netanyahu and Erdogan do not get along, so it's pretty hard to please both of them simultaneously. Like muad'dib, Scotty has it in his head that Trump is a poodle of Erdogan, but the latter would disagree. Heavy weapons to Syrian Kurds, Jerusalem -- Erdogan is not fully pleased with Trump.

If Scotty thinks the Clintons are hostile to Saudi Arabia, he hasn't been paying attention (does he ever?).

Trump is already the worst foreign policy president since LBJ -- he only needs a Vietnam War to his name to blow past him

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

Fran Macadam , says: December 21, 2017 at 10:46 pm
"In the meantime, Frack Baby Frack! The less oil we have to import from there, Venezuela, or anyplace crazy the better." That would be sane. But the elites have decided to export it at a cut rate, to undermine Russia as the supplier in Europe, in order to foment regime change by crashing the Russian economy. Why did you think we had such low fuel prices all of a sudden?

No, the fuel extracted from American soil does not accrue to the benefit of the American people, but to the profits and plans of elites.

Alex (the one that likes Ike) , says: December 22, 2017 at 6:22 am

As a clever newspaper writer said about Jesse Ventura: Jesse is a lot smarter than most folks think he is, but not nearly as smart as he thinks he is. Like Jesse, Trump is smart enough to avoid unnecessary war. However, war may just become "necessary" when the heat of his Russia investigation becomes unbearable, and Trump needs the ultimate distraction. When (not if) that happens, either North Korea or Iran will be in trouble -- perhaps both. Millions will most likely die, billions of dollars will be spent, and the US will create an entirely new generation of terrorists. This will not end well.

Except that "heat" of his investigation is almost extinguished already.

Elijah , says: December 22, 2017 at 7:47 am
"Except that "heat" of his investigation is almost extinguished already."

Exactly.

Donald ( the left leaning one) , says: December 22, 2017 at 12:48 pm
Noah and Engineer Scotty -- There is a reasonable compromise. Both of you are right. Trump is a disaster and we know Clinton was terrible. There is no point in arguing about whether she would be worse. I happen to think In some ways she wouldn't be as bad. She wouldn't be engaged in stupid twitter fights with dictators. But she might be better at leading us into some stupid war in Syria. Trump will stumble into some war with no support. Clinton would have had lots of support for whatever mindlessly stupid bloodbath she wanted to start.
EngineerScotty , says: December 22, 2017 at 3:44 pm
That would be sane. But the elites have decided to export it at a cut rate, to undermine Russia as the supplier in Europe, in order to foment regime change by crashing the Russian economy. Why did you think we had such low fuel prices all of a sudden?

No, the fuel extracted from American soil does not accrue to the benefit of the American people, but to the profits and plans of elites.

Unless the "elites" you are talking about are the Saudis–who are well-known for flooding the market with cheap crude periodically to undercut the competition (they can still produce oil for far less than anywhere else), and have many reasons to be suspicious of Russia–this makes no sense.

Oil obtained by fracking is far more expensive to produce than oil obtained by simply drilling a well in the Arabian Desert and quickly finding a gusher. The US can meet its domestic needs, but isn't that great of a net exporter -- prices have to be sufficiently high before high-volume production becomes cost-effective.

And if you don't think that either the Saudis or the American oil industry have the ear of Trump, you're smokin' something.

The "elites" that oppose Trump have rather little political power at the present moment. Don't confuse cultural elites (who don't like the Donald one bit) with the gazillionaires who actual control the petroleum industry, and are more than happy to do business with whoever is in charge in Washington.

Trump–ignorant and fatuous and unworldly as he may be–is an "elite" by virtue of the office he holds. Do not forget that.

EngineerScotty , says: December 22, 2017 at 3:57 pm

Noah and Engineer Scotty -- There is a reasonable compromise. Both of you are right. Trump is a disaster and we know Clinton was terrible. There is no point in arguing about whether she would be worse. I happen to think In some ways she wouldn't be as bad. She wouldn't be engaged in stupid twitter fights with dictators. But she might be better at leading us into some stupid war in Syria. Trump will stumble into some war with no support. Clinton would have had lots of support for whatever mindlessly stupid bloodbath she wanted to start.

Fair enough–though I think that Hillary's foreign policy would likely be similar to that of her husband. Far from ideal, but not disastrous. Of course, Bill got to hold office in a time when the Soviet Union (and its constituent parts) was in shambles, China was still a third-world country, North Korea was no threat to anyone but South Korea, Islamic extremism was far less of a problem, and even the Israelis and Palestinians were talking, and on roughly equal terms. Now is a much more dangerous time.

One of my biggest concerns about Trump's foreign policy–and a major difference from how Hillary would have governed–is his utter disdain for diplomacy. As noted, he (and Tillerson) have been busy setting the State Department ablaze, and many, many, many seasoned diplomats (career civil servants, not political appointees) have left Foggy Bottom, some of their own accord, some not. Some Trump defenders claim this is part of "draining the swamp", and many critics claim this is a purge of anyone not loyal to Trump personally–and these two claims may be opposite sides of the same coin.

But there is something else. Trump seems to think that international diplomacy ought to be conducted like real-estate deals: Two high-rollers (CEOs or heads of state) meet on the golf course, hash out a deal, and the lawyers work out the details; and that having a large staff of people trained in understanding a potentially-hostile foreign country is simply unnecessary. In short, he acts as though he believes the entire system of international diplomatic protocol, is a racket. Perhaps he has a point here; and perhaps he does not–as the old saying goes, don't knock down a wall unless you know what loads it is bearing.

But you'll notice that neither Russia, nor China, nor Israel, nor Iran, or Germany, nor any other player on the world stage, have been engaging in similar purges of their diplomatic services.

[Dec 22, 2017] Beyond Cynicism America Fumbles Towards Kafka s Castle by James Howard Kunstler

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... With the election of 2016, symptoms of the long emergency seeped into the political system. Disinformation rules. There is no coherent consensus about what is happening and no coherent proposals to do anything about it. The two parties are mired in paralysis and dysfunction and the public's trust in them is at epic lows. Donald Trump is viewed as a sort of pirate president, a freebooting freak elected by accident, "a disrupter" of the status quo at best and at worst a dangerous incompetent playing with nuclear fire. A state of war exists between the White House, the permanent D.C. bureaucracy, and the traditional news media. Authentic leadership is otherwise AWOL. Institutions falter. The FBI and the CIA behave like enemies of the people. ..."
"... They chatter about electric driverless car fleets, home delivery drone services, and as-yet-undeveloped modes of energy production to replace problematic fossil fuels, while ignoring the self-evident resource and capital constraints now upon us and even the laws of physics -- especially entropy , the second law of thermodynamics. Their main mental block is their belief in infinite industrial growth on a finite planet, an idea so powerfully foolish that it obviates their standing as technocrats. ..."
"... The universities beget a class of what Nassim Taleb prankishly called "intellectuals-yet-idiots," hierophants trafficking in fads and falsehoods, conveyed in esoteric jargon larded with psychobabble in support of a therapeutic crypto-gnostic crusade bent on transforming human nature to fit the wished-for utopian template of a world where anything goes. In fact, they have only produced a new intellectual despotism worthy of Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot. ..."
"... Until fairly recently, the Democratic Party did not roll that way. It was right-wing Republicans who tried to ban books, censor pop music, and stifle free expression. If anything, Democrats strenuously defended the First Amendment, including the principle that unpopular and discomforting ideas had to be tolerated in order to protect all speech. Back in in 1977 the ACLU defended the right of neo-Nazis to march for their cause (National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, 432 U.S. 43). ..."
"... This is the recipe for what we call identity politics, the main thrust of which these days, the quest for "social justice," is to present a suit against white male privilege and, shall we say, the horse it rode in on: western civ. A peculiar feature of the social justice agenda is the wish to erect strict boundaries around racial identities while erasing behavioral boundaries, sexual boundaries, and ethical boundaries. Since so much of this thought-monster is actually promulgated by white college professors and administrators, and white political activists, against people like themselves, the motives in this concerted campaign might appear puzzling to the casual observer. ..."
"... The evolving matrix of rackets that prompted the 2008 debacle has only grown more elaborate and craven as the old economy of stuff dies and is replaced by a financialized economy of swindles and frauds . Almost nothing in America's financial life is on the level anymore, from the mendacious "guidance" statements of the Federal Reserve, to the official economic statistics of the federal agencies, to the manipulation of all markets, to the shenanigans on the fiscal side, to the pervasive accounting fraud that underlies it all. Ironically, the systematic chiseling of the foundering middle class is most visible in the rackets that medicine and education have become -- two activities that were formerly dedicated to doing no harm and seeking the truth ! ..."
"... Um, forgotten by Kunstler is the fact that 1965 was also the year when the USA reopened its doors to low-skilled immigrants from the Third World – who very quickly became competitors with black Americans. And then the Boom ended, and corporate American, influenced by thinking such as that displayed in Lewis Powell's (in)famous 1971 memorandum, decided to claw back the gains made by the working and middle classes in the previous 3 decades. ..."
"... "Wow – is there ever negative!" ..."
"... You also misrepresent reality to your readers. No, the black underclass is not larger, more dysfunctional, and more alienated now than in the 1960's, when cities across the country burned and machine guns were stationed on the Capitol steps. The "racial divide" is not "starker now than ever"; that's just preposterous to anyone who was alive then. And nobody I've ever known felt "shame" over the "outcome of the civil rights campaign". I know nobody who seeks to "punish and humiliate" the 'privileged'. ..."
"... My impression is that what Kunstler is doing here is diagnosing the long crisis of a decadent liberal post-modernity, and his stance is not that of either of the warring sides within our divorced-from-reality political establishment, neither that of the 'right' or 'left.' Which is why, logically, he published it here. National Review would never have accepted this piece ..."
"... "Globalization has acted, meanwhile, as a great leveler. It destroyed what was left of the working class -- the lower-middle class -- which included a great many white Americans who used to be able to support a family with simple labor." ..."
"... Young black people are told by their elders how lucky they are to grow up today because things are much better than when grandpa was our age and we all know this history.\ ..."
"... It's clear that this part of the article was written from absolute ignorance of the actual black experience with no interest in even looking up some facts. Hell, Obama even gave a speech at Howard telling graduates how lucky they were to be young and black Today compared to even when he was their age in the 80's! ..."
"... E.g. Germany. Germany is anything but perfect and its recent government has screwed up with its immigration policies. But Germany has a high standard of living, an educated work force (including unions and skilled crafts-people), a more rational distribution of wealth and high quality universal health care that costs 47% less per capita than in the U.S. and with no intrinsic need to maraud around the planet wasting gobs of taxpayer money playing Global Cop. ..."
"... The larger subtext is that the U.S. house of cards was planned out and constructed as deliberately as the German model was. Only the objective was not to maximize the health and happiness of the citizenry, but to line the pockets of the parasitic Elites. (E.g., note that Mitch McConnell has been a government employee for 50 years but somehow acquired a net worth of over $10 Million.) ..."
Dec 12, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

On America's 'long emergency' of recession, globalization, and identity politics.

Can a people recover from an excursion into unreality? The USA's sojourn into an alternative universe of the mind accelerated sharply after Wall Street nearly detonated the global financial system in 2008. That debacle was only one manifestation of an array of accumulating threats to the postmodern order, which include the burdens of empire, onerous debt, population overshoot, fracturing globalism, worries about energy, disruptive technologies, ecological havoc, and the specter of climate change.

A sense of gathering crisis, which I call the long emergency , persists. It is systemic and existential. It calls into question our ability to carry on "normal" life much farther into this century, and all the anxiety that attends it is hard for the public to process. It manifested itself first in finance because that was the most abstract and fragile of all the major activities we depend on for daily life, and therefore the one most easily tampered with and shoved into criticality by a cadre of irresponsible opportunists on Wall Street. Indeed, a lot of households were permanently wrecked after the so-called Great Financial Crisis of 2008, despite official trumpet blasts heralding "recovery" and the dishonestly engineered pump-up of capital markets since then.

With the election of 2016, symptoms of the long emergency seeped into the political system. Disinformation rules. There is no coherent consensus about what is happening and no coherent proposals to do anything about it. The two parties are mired in paralysis and dysfunction and the public's trust in them is at epic lows. Donald Trump is viewed as a sort of pirate president, a freebooting freak elected by accident, "a disrupter" of the status quo at best and at worst a dangerous incompetent playing with nuclear fire. A state of war exists between the White House, the permanent D.C. bureaucracy, and the traditional news media. Authentic leadership is otherwise AWOL. Institutions falter. The FBI and the CIA behave like enemies of the people.

Bad ideas flourish in this nutrient medium of unresolved crisis. Lately, they actually dominate the scene on every side. A species of wishful thinking that resembles a primitive cargo cult grips the technocratic class, awaiting magical rescue remedies that promise to extend the regime of Happy Motoring, consumerism, and suburbia that makes up the armature of "normal" life in the USA. They chatter about electric driverless car fleets, home delivery drone services, and as-yet-undeveloped modes of energy production to replace problematic fossil fuels, while ignoring the self-evident resource and capital constraints now upon us and even the laws of physics -- especially entropy , the second law of thermodynamics. Their main mental block is their belief in infinite industrial growth on a finite planet, an idea so powerfully foolish that it obviates their standing as technocrats.

The non-technocratic cohort of the thinking class squanders its waking hours on a quixotic campaign to destroy the remnant of an American common culture and, by extension, a reviled Western civilization they blame for the failure in our time to establish a utopia on earth. By the logic of the day, "inclusion" and "diversity" are achieved by forbidding the transmission of ideas, shutting down debate, and creating new racially segregated college dorms. Sexuality is declared to not be biologically determined, yet so-called cis-gendered persons (whose gender identity corresponds with their sex as detected at birth) are vilified by dint of not being "other-gendered" -- thereby thwarting the pursuit of happiness of persons self-identified as other-gendered. Casuistry anyone?

The universities beget a class of what Nassim Taleb prankishly called "intellectuals-yet-idiots," hierophants trafficking in fads and falsehoods, conveyed in esoteric jargon larded with psychobabble in support of a therapeutic crypto-gnostic crusade bent on transforming human nature to fit the wished-for utopian template of a world where anything goes. In fact, they have only produced a new intellectual despotism worthy of Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot.

In case you haven't been paying attention to the hijinks on campus -- the attacks on reason, fairness, and common decency, the kangaroo courts, diversity tribunals, assaults on public speech and speakers themselves -- here is the key take-away: it's not about ideas or ideologies anymore; it's purely about the pleasures of coercion, of pushing other people around. Coercion is fun and exciting! In fact, it's intoxicating, and rewarded with brownie points and career advancement. It's rather perverse that this passion for tyranny is suddenly so popular on the liberal left.

Until fairly recently, the Democratic Party did not roll that way. It was right-wing Republicans who tried to ban books, censor pop music, and stifle free expression. If anything, Democrats strenuously defended the First Amendment, including the principle that unpopular and discomforting ideas had to be tolerated in order to protect all speech. Back in in 1977 the ACLU defended the right of neo-Nazis to march for their cause (National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, 432 U.S. 43).

The new and false idea that something labeled "hate speech" -- labeled by whom? -- is equivalent to violence floated out of the graduate schools on a toxic cloud of intellectual hysteria concocted in the laboratory of so-called "post-structuralist" philosophy, where sundry body parts of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, and Gilles Deleuze were sewn onto a brain comprised of one-third each Thomas Hobbes, Saul Alinsky, and Tupac Shakur to create a perfect Frankenstein monster of thought. It all boiled down to the proposition that the will to power negated all other human drives and values, in particular the search for truth. Under this scheme, all human relations were reduced to a dramatis personae of the oppressed and their oppressors, the former generally "people of color" and women, all subjugated by whites, mostly males. Tactical moves in politics among these self-described "oppressed" and "marginalized" are based on the credo that the ends justify the means (the Alinsky model).

This is the recipe for what we call identity politics, the main thrust of which these days, the quest for "social justice," is to present a suit against white male privilege and, shall we say, the horse it rode in on: western civ. A peculiar feature of the social justice agenda is the wish to erect strict boundaries around racial identities while erasing behavioral boundaries, sexual boundaries, and ethical boundaries. Since so much of this thought-monster is actually promulgated by white college professors and administrators, and white political activists, against people like themselves, the motives in this concerted campaign might appear puzzling to the casual observer.

I would account for it as the psychological displacement among this political cohort of their shame, disappointment, and despair over the outcome of the civil rights campaign that started in the 1960s and formed the core of progressive ideology. It did not bring about the hoped-for utopia. The racial divide in America is starker now than ever, even after two terms of a black president. Today, there is more grievance and resentment, and less hope for a better future, than when Martin Luther King made the case for progress on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. The recent flash points of racial conflict -- Ferguson, the Dallas police ambush, the Charleston church massacre, et cetera -- don't have to be rehearsed in detail here to make the point that there is a great deal of ill feeling throughout the land, and quite a bit of acting out on both sides.

The black underclass is larger, more dysfunctional, and more alienated than it was in the 1960s. My theory, for what it's worth, is that the civil rights legislation of 1964 and '65, which removed legal barriers to full participation in national life, induced considerable anxiety among black citizens over the new disposition of things, for one reason or another. And that is exactly why a black separatism movement arose as an alternative at the time, led initially by such charismatic figures as Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael. Some of that was arguably a product of the same youthful energy that drove the rest of the Sixties counterculture: adolescent rebellion. But the residue of the "Black Power" movement is still present in the widespread ambivalence about making covenant with a common culture, and it has only been exacerbated by a now long-running "multiculturalism and diversity" crusade that effectively nullifies the concept of a national common culture.

What follows from these dynamics is the deflection of all ideas that don't feed a narrative of power relations between oppressors and victims, with the self-identified victims ever more eager to exercise their power to coerce, punish, and humiliate their self-identified oppressors, the "privileged," who condescend to be abused to a shockingly masochistic degree. Nobody stands up to this organized ceremonial nonsense. The punishments are too severe, including the loss of livelihood, status, and reputation, especially in the university. Once branded a "racist," you're done. And venturing to join the oft-called-for "honest conversation about race" is certain to invite that fate.

Globalization has acted, meanwhile, as a great leveler. It destroyed what was left of the working class -- the lower-middle class -- which included a great many white Americans who used to be able to support a family with simple labor. Hung out to dry economically, this class of whites fell into many of the same behaviors as the poor blacks before them: absent fathers, out-of-wedlock births, drug abuse. Then the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 wiped up the floor with the middle-middle class above them, foreclosing on their homes and futures, and in their desperation many of these people became Trump voters -- though I doubt that Trump himself truly understood how this all worked exactly. However, he did see that the white middle class had come to identify as yet another victim group, allowing him to pose as their champion.

The evolving matrix of rackets that prompted the 2008 debacle has only grown more elaborate and craven as the old economy of stuff dies and is replaced by a financialized economy of swindles and frauds . Almost nothing in America's financial life is on the level anymore, from the mendacious "guidance" statements of the Federal Reserve, to the official economic statistics of the federal agencies, to the manipulation of all markets, to the shenanigans on the fiscal side, to the pervasive accounting fraud that underlies it all. Ironically, the systematic chiseling of the foundering middle class is most visible in the rackets that medicine and education have become -- two activities that were formerly dedicated to doing no harm and seeking the truth !

Life in this milieu of immersive dishonesty drives citizens beyond cynicism to an even more desperate state of mind. The suffering public ends up having no idea what is really going on, what is actually happening. The toolkit of the Enlightenment -- reason, empiricism -- doesn't work very well in this socioeconomic hall of mirrors, so all that baggage is discarded for the idea that reality is just a social construct, just whatever story you feel like telling about it. On the right, Karl Rove expressed this point of view some years ago when he bragged, of the Bush II White House, that "we make our own reality." The left says nearly the same thing in the post-structuralist malarkey of academia: "you make your own reality." In the end, both sides are left with a lot of bad feelings and the belief that only raw power has meaning.

Erasing psychological boundaries is a dangerous thing. When the rackets finally come to grief -- as they must because their operations don't add up -- and the reckoning with true price discovery commences at the macro scale, the American people will find themselves in even more distress than they've endured so far. This will be the moment when either nobody has any money, or there is plenty of worthless money for everyone. Either way, the functional bankruptcy of the nation will be complete, and nothing will work anymore, including getting enough to eat. That is exactly the moment when Americans on all sides will beg someone to step up and push them around to get their world working again. And even that may not avail.

James Howard Kunstler's many books include The Geography of Nowhere, The Long Emergency, Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation , and the World Made by Hand novel series. He blogs on Mondays and Fridays at Kunstler.com .

Whine Merchant December 20, 2017 at 10:49 pm

Wow – is there ever negative!
Celery , says: December 20, 2017 at 11:33 pm
I think I need to go listen to an old-fashioned Christmas song now.

The ability to be financially, or at least resource, sustaining is the goal of many I know since we share a lack of confidence in any of our institutions. We can only hope that God might look down with compassion on us, but He's not in the practical plan of how to feed and sustain ourselves when things play out to their inevitable end. Having come from a better time, we joke about our dystopian preparations, self-conscious about our "overreaction," but preparing all the same.

Merry Christmas!

Fran Macadam , says: December 20, 2017 at 11:55 pm
Look at it this way: Germany had to be leveled and its citizens reduced to abject penury, before Volkswagen could become the world's biggest car company, and autobahns built throughout the world. It will be darkest before the dawn, and hopefully, that light that comes after, won't be the miniature sunrise of a nuclear conflagration.
KD , says: December 21, 2017 at 6:02 am
Eat, Drink, and be Merry, you can charge it on your credit card!
Rock Stehdy , says: December 21, 2017 at 6:38 am
Hard words, but true. Kunstler is always worth reading for his common-sense wisdom.
Helmut , says: December 21, 2017 at 7:04 am
An excellent summary and bleak reminder of what our so-called civilization has become. How do we extricate ourselves from this strange death spiral?
I have long suspected that we humans are creatures of our own personal/group/tribal/national/global fables and mythologies. We are compelled by our genes, marrow, and blood to tell ourselves stories of our purpose and who we are. It is time for new mythologies and stories of "who we are". This bizarre hyper-techno all-for-profit world needs a new story.
Liam , says: December 21, 2017 at 7:38 am
"The black underclass is larger, more dysfunctional, and more alienated than it was in the 1960s. My theory, for what it's worth, is that the civil rights legislation of 1964 and '65, which removed legal barriers to full participation in national life, induced considerable anxiety among black citizens over the new disposition of things, for one reason or another."

Um, forgotten by Kunstler is the fact that 1965 was also the year when the USA reopened its doors to low-skilled immigrants from the Third World – who very quickly became competitors with black Americans. And then the Boom ended, and corporate American, influenced by thinking such as that displayed in Lewis Powell's (in)famous 1971 memorandum, decided to claw back the gains made by the working and middle classes in the previous 3 decades.

Peter , says: December 21, 2017 at 8:34 am
I have some faith that the American people can recover from an excursion into unreality. I base it on my own survival to the end of this silly rant.
SteveM , says: December 21, 2017 at 9:08 am
Re: Whine Merchant, "Wow – is there ever negative!"

Can't argue with the facts

P.S. Merry Christmas.

Dave Wright , says: December 21, 2017 at 9:22 am
Hey Jim, I know you love to blame Wall Street and the Republicans for the GFC. I remember back in '08 you were urging Democrats to blame it all on Republicans to help Obama win. But I have news for you. It wasn't Wall Street that caused the GFC. The crisis actually had its roots in the Clinton Administration's use of the Community Reinvestment Act to pressure banks to relax mortgage underwriting standards. This was done at the behest of left wing activists who claimed (without evidence, of course) that the standards discriminated against minorities. The result was an effective repeal of all underwriting standards and an explosion of real estate speculation with borrowed money. Speculation with borrowed money never ends well.

I have to laugh, too, when you say that it's perverse that the passion for tyranny is popular on the left. Have you ever heard of the French Revolution? How about the USSR? Communist China? North Korea? Et cetera.

Leftism is leftism. Call it Marxism, Communism, socialism, liberalism, progressivism, or what have you. The ideology is the same. Only the tactics and methods change. Destroy the evil institutions of marriage, family, and religion, and Man's innate goodness will shine forth, and the glorious Godless utopia will naturally result.

Of course, the father of lies is ultimately behind it all. "He was a liar and a murderer from the beginning."

When man turns his back on God, nothing good happens. That's the most fundamental problem in Western society today. Not to say that there aren't other issues, but until we return to God, there's not much hope for improvement.

NoahK , says: December 21, 2017 at 10:15 am
It's like somebody just got a bunch of right-wing talking points and mashed them together into one incohesive whole. This is just lazy.
Andrew Imlay , says: December 21, 2017 at 10:36 am
Hmm. I just wandered over here by accident. Being a construction contractor, I don't know enough about globalization, academia, or finance to evaluate your assertions about those realms. But being in a biracial family, and having lived, worked, and worshiped equally in white and black communities, I can evaluate your statements about social justice, race, and civil rights. Long story short, you pick out fringe liberal ideas, misrepresent them as mainstream among liberals, and shoot them down. Casuistry, anyone?

You also misrepresent reality to your readers. No, the black underclass is not larger, more dysfunctional, and more alienated now than in the 1960's, when cities across the country burned and machine guns were stationed on the Capitol steps. The "racial divide" is not "starker now than ever"; that's just preposterous to anyone who was alive then. And nobody I've ever known felt "shame" over the "outcome of the civil rights campaign". I know nobody who seeks to "punish and humiliate" the 'privileged'.

I get that this column is a quick toss-off before the holiday, and that your strength is supposed to be in your presentation, not your ideas. For me, it's a helpful way to rehearse debunking common tropes that I'll encounter elsewhere.

But, really, your readers deserve better, and so do the people you misrepresent. We need bad liberal ideas to be critiqued while they're still on the fringe. But by calling fringe ideas mainstream, you discredit yourself, misinform your readers, and contribute to stereotypes both of liberals and of conservatives. I'm looking for serious conservative critiques that help me take a second look at familiar ideas. I won't be back.

peter in boston , says: December 21, 2017 at 10:48 am
Love Kunstler -- and love reading him here -- but he needs a strong editor to get him to turn a formless harangue into clear essay.
Someone in the crowd , says: December 21, 2017 at 11:07 am
I disagree, NoahK, that the whole is incohesive, and I also disagree that these are right-wing talking points.

The theme of this piece is the long crisis in the US, its nature and causes. At no point does this essay, despite it stream of consciousness style, veer away from that theme. Hence it is cohesive.

As for the right wing charge, though it is true, to be sure, that Kunstler's position is in many respects classically conservative -- he believes for example that there should be a national consensus on certain fundamentals, such as whether or not there are two sexes (for the most part), or, instead, an infinite variety of sexes chosen day by day at whim -- you must have noticed that he condemned both the voluntarism of Karl Rove AND the voluntarism of the post-structuralist crowd.

My impression is that what Kunstler is doing here is diagnosing the long crisis of a decadent liberal post-modernity, and his stance is not that of either of the warring sides within our divorced-from-reality political establishment, neither that of the 'right' or 'left.' Which is why, logically, he published it here. National Review would never have accepted this piece. QED.

Jon , says: December 21, 2017 at 11:10 am
This malaise is rooted in human consciousness that when reflecting on itself celebrating its capacity for apperception suffers from the tension that such an inquiry, such an inward glance produces. In a word, the capacity for the human being to be aware of his or herself as an intelligent being capable of reflecting on aspects of reality through the artful manipulation of symbols engenders this tension, this angst.

Some will attempt to extinguish this inner tension through intoxication while others through the thrill of war, and it has been played out since the dawn of man and well documented when the written word emerged.

The malaise which Mr. Kunstler addresses as the problem of our times is rooted in our existence from time immemorial. But the problem is not only existential but ontological. It is rooted in our being as self-aware creatures. Thus no solution avails itself as humanity in and of itself is the problem. Each side (both right and left) seeks its own anodyne whether through profligacy or intolerance, and each side mans the barricades to clash experiencing the adrenaline rush that arises from the perpetual call to arms.

Joe the Plutocrat , says: December 21, 2017 at 11:27 am
"Globalization has acted, meanwhile, as a great leveler. It destroyed what was left of the working class -- the lower-middle class -- which included a great many white Americans who used to be able to support a family with simple labor."

And to whom do we hand the tab for this? Globalization is a word. It is a concept, a talking point. Globalization is oligarchy by another name. Unfortunately, under-educated, deplorable, Americans; regardless of party affiliation/ideology have embraced. And the most ironic part?

Russia and China (the eventual surviving oligarchies) will eventually have to duke it out to decide which superpower gets to make the USA it's b*tch (excuse prison reference, but that's where we're headed folks).

And one more irony. Only in American, could Christianity, which was grew from concepts like compassion, generosity, humility, and benevolence; be re-branded and 'weaponized' to further greed, bigotry, misogyny, intolerance, and violence/war. Americans fiddled (over same sex marriage, abortion, who has to bake wedding cakes, and who gets to use which public restroom), while the oligarchs burned the last resources (natural, financial, and even legal).

The scientist 880 , says: December 21, 2017 at 11:48 am
"Today, there is more grievance and resentment, and less hope for a better future, than when Martin Luther King made the case for progress on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963."

Spoken like a white guy who has zero contact with black people. I mean, even a little bit of research and familiarity would give lie to the idea that blacks are more pessimistic about life today than in the 1960's.

Black millenials are the most optimistic group of Americans about the future. Anyone who has spent any significant time around older black people will notice that you don't hear the rose colored memories of the past. Black people don't miss the 1980's, much less the 1950's. Young black people are told by their elders how lucky they are to grow up today because things are much better than when grandpa was our age and we all know this history.\

It's clear that this part of the article was written from absolute ignorance of the actual black experience with no interest in even looking up some facts. Hell, Obama even gave a speech at Howard telling graduates how lucky they were to be young and black Today compared to even when he was their age in the 80's!

Here is the direct quote;

"In my inaugural address, I remarked that just 60 years earlier, my father might not have been served in a D.C. restaurant -- at least not certain of them. There were no black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Very few black judges. Shoot, as Larry Wilmore pointed out last week, a lot of folks didn't even think blacks had the tools to be a quarterback. Today, former Bull Michael Jordan isn't just the greatest basketball player of all time -- he owns the team. (Laughter.) When I was graduating, the main black hero on TV was Mr. T. (Laughter.) Rap and hip hop were counterculture, underground. Now, Shonda Rhimes owns Thursday night, and Beyoncé runs the world. (Laughter.) We're no longer only entertainers, we're producers, studio executives. No longer small business owners -- we're CEOs, we're mayors, representatives, Presidents of the United States. (Applause.)

I am not saying gaps do not persist. Obviously, they do. Racism persists. Inequality persists. Don't worry -- I'm going to get to that. But I wanted to start, Class of 2016, by opening your eyes to the moment that you are in. If you had to choose one moment in history in which you could be born, and you didn't know ahead of time who you were going to be -- what nationality, what gender, what race, whether you'd be rich or poor, gay or straight, what faith you'd be born into -- you wouldn't choose 100 years ago. You wouldn't choose the fifties, or the sixties, or the seventies. You'd choose right now. If you had to choose a time to be, in the words of Lorraine Hansberry, "young, gifted, and black" in America, you would choose right now. (Applause.)"

https://www.politico.com/story/2016/05/obamas-howard-commencement-transcript-222931

https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_58cf1d9ae4b0ec9d29dcf283/amp

Adam , says: December 21, 2017 at 11:57 am
I love reading about how the Community Reinvestment Act was the catalyst of all that is wrong in the world. As someone in the industry the issue was actually twofold. The Commodities Futures Modernization Act turned the mortgage securities market into a casino with the underlying actual debt instruments multiplied through the use of additional debt instruments tied to the performance but with no actual underlying value. These securities were then sold around the world essentially infecting the entire market. In order that feed the beast, these NON GOVERNMENT loans had their underwriting standards lowered to rediculous levels. If you run out of qualified customers, just lower the qualifications. Government loans such as FHA, VA, and USDA were avoided because it was easier to qualify people with the new stuff. And get paid. The short version is all of the incentives that were in place at the time, starting with the Futures Act, directly led to the actions that culminated in the Crash. So yes, it was the government, just a different piece of legislation.
SteveM , says: December 21, 2017 at 12:29 pm
Kunstler itemizing the social and economic pathologies in the United States is not enough. Because there are other models that demonstrate it didn't have to be this way.

E.g. Germany. Germany is anything but perfect and its recent government has screwed up with its immigration policies. But Germany has a high standard of living, an educated work force (including unions and skilled crafts-people), a more rational distribution of wealth and high quality universal health care that costs 47% less per capita than in the U.S. and with no intrinsic need to maraud around the planet wasting gobs of taxpayer money playing Global Cop.

The larger subtext is that the U.S. house of cards was planned out and constructed as deliberately as the German model was. Only the objective was not to maximize the health and happiness of the citizenry, but to line the pockets of the parasitic Elites. (E.g., note that Mitch McConnell has been a government employee for 50 years but somehow acquired a net worth of over $10 Million.)

P.S. About the notionally high U.S. GDP. Factor out the TRILLIONS inexplicably hoovered up by the pathological health care system, the metastasized and sanctified National Security State (with its Global Cop shenanigans) and the cronied-up Ponzi scheme of electron-churn financialization ginned up by Goldman Sachs and the rest of the Banksters, and then see how much GDP that reflects the actual wealth of the middle class is left over.

One Guy , says: December 21, 2017 at 1:10 pm
Right-Wing Dittoheads and Fox Watchers love to blame the Community Reinvestment Act. It allows them to blame both poor black people AND the government. The truth is that many parties were to blame.
LouB , says: December 21, 2017 at 1:14 pm
One of the things I love about this rag is that almost all of the comments are included. You may be sure that similar commenting privilege doesn't exist most anywhere else.

Any disfavor regarding the supposed bleakness with the weak hearted souls aside, Mr K's broadside seems pretty spot on to me.

tzx4 , says: December 21, 2017 at 1:57 pm
I think the author overlooks the fact that government over the past 30 to 40 years has been tilting the playing field ever more towards the uppermost classes and against the middle class. The evisceration of the middle class is plain to see.

If the the common man had more money and security, lots of our current intrasocial conflicts would be far less intense.

Jeeves , says: December 21, 2017 at 2:09 pm
Andrew Imlay: You provide a thoughtful corrective to one of Kunstler's more hyperbolic claims. And you should know that his jeremiad doesn't represent usual fare at TAC. So do come back.

Whether or not every one of Kunstler's assertions can withstand a rigorous fact-check, he is a formidable rhetorician. A generous serving of Weltschmerz is just what the season calls for.

Wezz , says: December 21, 2017 at 2:44 pm
America is stupefied from propaganda on steroids for, largely from the right wing, 25? years of Limbaugh, Fox, etc etc etc Clinton hate x 10, "weapons of mass destruction", "they hate us because we are free", birtherism, death panels, Jade Helm, pedophile pizza, and more Clinton hate porn.

Americans have been taught to worship the wealthy regardless of how they got there. Americans have been taught they are "Exceptional" (better, smarter, more godly than every one else) in spite of outward appearances. Americans are under educated and encouraged to make decisions based on emotion from constant barrage of extra loud advertising from birth selling illusion.

Americans brain chemistry is most likely as messed up as the rest of their bodies from junk or molested food. Are they even capable of normal thought?

Donald Trump has convinced at least a third of Americans that only he, Fox, Breitbart and one or two other sources are telling the Truth, every one else is lying and that he is their friend.

Is it possible we are just plane doomed and there's no way out?

John Blade Wiederspan , says: December 21, 2017 at 4:26 pm
I loathe the cotton candy clown and his Quislings; however, I must admit, his presence as President of the United States has forced everyone (left, right, religious, non-religious) to look behind the curtain. He has done more to dis-spell the idealism of both liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican, rich and poor, than any other elected official in history. The sheer amount of mind-numbing absurdity resulting from a publicity stunt that got out of control ..I am 70 and I have seen a lot. This is beyond anything I could ever imagine. America is not going to improve or even remain the same. It is in a 4 year march into worse, three years to go.
EarlyBird , says: December 21, 2017 at 5:23 pm
Sheesh. Should I shoot myself now, or wait until I get home?
dvxprime , says: December 21, 2017 at 5:46 pm
Mr. Kuntzler has an honest and fairly accurate assessment of the situation. And as usual, the liberal audience that TAC is trying so hard to reach, is tossing out their usual talking points whilst being in denial of the situation.

The Holy Bible teaches us that repentance is the first crucial step on the path towards salvation. Until the progressives, from their alleged "elite" down the rank and file at Kos, HuffPo, whatever, take a good, long, hard look at the current national dumpster fire and start claiming some responsibility, America has no chance of solving problems or fixing anything.

Slooch , says: December 21, 2017 at 7:03 pm
Kunstler must have had a good time writing this, and I had a good time reading it. Skewed perspective, wild overstatement, and obsessive cherry-picking of the rare checkable facts are mixed with a little eye of newt and toe of frog and smothered in a oar and roll of rhetoric that was thrilling to be immersed in. Good work!
jp , says: December 21, 2017 at 8:09 pm
aah, same old Kunstler, slightly retailored for the Trump years.

for those of you familiar with him, remember his "peak oil" mania from the late 00s and early 2010s? every blog post was about it. every new year was going to be IT: the long emergency would start, people would be Mad Maxing over oil supplies cos prices at the pump would be $10 a gallon or somesuch.

in this new rant, i did a control-F for "peak oil" and hey, not a mention. I guess even cranks like Kunstler know when to give a tired horse a rest.

c.meyer , says: December 21, 2017 at 8:30 pm
So what else is new. Too 'clever', overwritten, no new ideas. Can't anyone move beyond clichés?
Active investor , says: December 22, 2017 at 12:35 am
Kunstler once again waxes eloquent on the American body politic. Every word rings true, except when it doesn't. At times poetic, at other times paranoid, Kunstler does us a great service by pointing a finger at the deepest pain points in America, any one of which could be the geyser that brings on catastrophic failure.

However, as has been pointed out, he definitely does not hang out with black people. For example, the statement:

But the residue of the "Black Power" movement is still present in the widespread ambivalence about making covenant with a common culture, and it has only been exacerbated by a now long-running "multiculturalism and diversity" crusade that effectively nullifies the concept of a national common culture.

The notion of a 'national common culture' is interesting but pretty much a fantasy that never existed, save colonial times.

Yet Kunstler's voice is one that must be heard, even if he is mostly tuning in to the widespread radicalism on both ends of the spectrum, albeit in relatively small numbers. Let's face it, people are in the streets marching, yelling, and hating and mass murders keep happening, with the regularity of Old Faithful. And he makes a good point about academia loosing touch with reality much of the time. He's spot on about the false expectations of what technology can do for the economy, which is inflated with fiat currency and God knows how many charlatans and hucksters. And yes, the white working class is feeling increasingly like a 'victim group.'

While Kunstler may be more a poet than a lawyer, more songwriter than historian, my gut feeling is that America had better take notice of him, as The American ship of state is being swept by a ferocious tide and the helmsman is high on Fentanyl (made in China).

JonF , says: December 22, 2017 at 9:52 am
Re: The crisis actually had its roots in the Clinton Administration's use of the Community Reinvestment Act

Here we go again with this rotting zombie which rises from its grave no matter how many times it has been debunked by statisticians and reputable economists (and no, not just those on the left– the ranks include Bruce Bartlett for example, a solid Reaganist). To reiterate again : the CRA played no role in the mortgage boom and bust. Among other facts in the way of that hypothesis is the fact that riskiest loans were being made by non-bank lenders (Countrywide) who were not covered by the CRA which only applied to actual banks– and the banks did not really get into the game full tilt, lowering their lending standards, until late in the game, c. 2005, in response to their loss of business to the non-bank lenders. Ditto for the GSEs, which did not lower their standards until 2005 and even then relied on wall Street to vet the subprime loans they were buying.

To be sure, blaming Wall Street for everything is also wrong-headed, though wall Street certainly did some stupid, greedy and shady things (No, I am not letting them off the hook!) But the cast of miscreants is numbered in the millions and it stretches around the planet. Everyone (for example) who got into the get-rich-quick Ponzi scheme of house flipping, especially if they lied about their income to do so. And everyone who took out a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) and foolishly charged it up on a consumption binge. And shall we talk about the mortgage brokers who coached people into lying, the loan officers who steered customers into the riskiest (and highest earning) loans they could, the sellers who asked palace-prices for crackerbox hovels, the appraisers who rubber-stamped such prices, the regulators who turned a blind eye to all the fraud and malfeasance, the ratings agencies who handed out AAA ratings to securities full of junk, the politicians who rejoiced over the apparent "Bush Boom" well, I could continue, but you get the picture.

We have met the enemy and he was us.

kevin on the left , says: December 22, 2017 at 10:49 am
"The Holy Bible teaches us that repentance is the first crucial step on the path towards salvation. Until the progressives, from their alleged "elite" down the rank and file at Kos, HuffPo, whatever, take a good, long, hard look at the current national dumpster fire and start claiming some responsibility, America has no chance of solving problems or fixing anything."

Pretty sure that calling other people to repent of their sin of disagreeing with you is not quite what the Holy Bible intended.

[Dec 19, 2017] The Beginning Of The End For Norwegian Oil by Viktor Katona

Dec 18, 2017 | oilprice.com

... ... ...

The demise of the North Sea doesn't necessarily mean the end of Norway's petroleum era -- far from it. Still, despite significant reserves in the Barents Sea, Norway is about to embark upon a long period of structural decline as its benchmark fields inch closer to depletion and its reserves taper before our very eyes.

... ... ...

There's ample evidence to conclude that all the sweet spots of Norway's continental shelf have been found. The latest shelf licensing round (24) elicited a weak response, with only 11 companies applying for production licenses. There was plenty to bid for -- 102 blocks were up for grabs (never before did the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate offer so much, with an overwhelming majority of them in the Barents Sea), but due to their remoteness from formations deemed to be the most hydrocarbon-rich, bidders were only half as numerous as they were during the previous licensing round in 2015.

After 2001, Norwegian oil output recorded 12 consecutive years of falling production. The current phase might best be described as a lull before the (presumably) last long-term production increase in its history, expected to happen in the early 2020s. Much will depend on the two "Johans" Norway will bring online in the early 2020s: Johan Sverdrup (recoverable reserves worth 2-3 BBbl) and Johan Castberg (0.5 BBbl).

Much has been done to render Johan Castberg profitable at current price levels -- from an initial level of 80 USD/bbl, Statoil and the other shareholders have brought it to an alleged 35 USD/bbl . Against the background of falling oil services costs, this has entailed several cost-cutting measures, most notably scrapping any sort of semi-submersible vessel variant coupled with pipeline construction from the oilfield to the mainland (an option preferred by the government, as this would allow to provide smaller fields in the Barents Sea with a sure transport route) in favor of a FPSO.

[Dec 17, 2017] Oil from Canada's oil sands is now selling at a $27-per-barrel discount relative to WTI, the sharpest difference in more than four years

Dec 17, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

Uh-Oh Canada! Tyler Durden Dec 17, 2017 3:15 PM 0 SHARES Authored by Nick Cunningham via OilPrice.com,

Oil from Canada's oil sands is now selling at a $27-per-barrel discount relative to WTI, the sharpest difference in more than four years

Western Canada Select (WCS), a benchmark for oil from Alberta's oil sands, has plunged in December, falling to just $30 per barrel at the end of this past week. WCS typically trades at a discount to WTI, reflecting the differences in quality from lighter forms of oil, as well as the extra transportation costs to move oil hundreds of miles out of Alberta.

But a discount is usually something like $10 per barrel, not more than $25. A price deterioration of this magnitude has not been seen in years.

... ... ...

At the end of the day, the current $27-per-barrel discount is being acutely felt in Canada's oil industry. Kevin Birn, a director at IHS Energy in Calgary, told Bloomberg that a $25-per-barrel WCS discount translates into a loss of $20 million per day for Canada's oil producers.

Lore -> east of eden , Dec 17, 2017 6:27 PM

Tyler should consider doing his audience a really big favor by addressing critical market fundamentals, because it's clear that there is a lot of ignorance here, still.

There is a TEMPORARY surplus, yes, but production in domestic American formations is collapsing (no exaggeration, the entire sector is engaged in a conspiracy of silence), and the U.S. Government is about to lose its ability to pay by issuing endless mountains of debt (hence all the distractive war-mongering and pathological adventures overseas). A new civil war is coming.

America is NOT a desirable trading partner, going forward.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a clueless buffoon, pandering to the Victim Industry, Progressivists and other debased groups. Somebody in Ottawa needs to give him a good shake and remind him of his priorities regarding practical matters, starting with expansion of Canadian refining capacity and port access to international markets, which ought to be considered a matter of national security.

zebra77a -> Lore , Dec 17, 2017 7:28 PM

The big dirty secret is Saudi Arabia, THERE oil bed's are collapsing and pumped into total failure, and there was some articles they were buying oil BACK from New York. We could be sitting on the largest price swing in history.

Question is - when is Israel going into Iran...?

jaxville -> zebra77a , Dec 17, 2017 9:34 PM

Get a grip! Israel is never going into Iran. They will get the USA and other "allies" to do that for them.

Rock On Roger , Dec 17, 2017 3:30 PM

We've got the same problem with gas in Alberta. Lotsa new production and not enough export capacity. Friday Alberta spot price @$1.77 Canadian dollars per gigajoule. More or less $1.35/mcf.

zebra77a -> In.Sip.ient , Dec 17, 2017 7:35 PM

The reality was the oilsands never had to be profitable, just attractive.

No not visually attractive, investment attractive for stock markets and pensions.. The oilsands was always created on the coffer of the public investment. The oilsands were built off of pension funds and excess money flows from the fiat expansion of the Central Banks. It never had anything to do with profitability grant you if Oil had stayed at $100 a barrel big oil would of built plants the size of California.

More oil now goes into making plastic than goes into driving. Price of oil is completely and utterly delinked from it's availability. When is it going back to $100 / barrel ask when Israel is invading Iran..

shitshitshit , Dec 17, 2017 3:50 PM

I don't understand why would they lose money selling their production instead of stopping the production until conditions are reunited to sell at a decent price. Sometimes you have to be willing to suffer a but to make things good again otherwise they might drag on forever.

The oil market is like a masochist market. People try to be three first ones to sell at any price instead of patiently waiting for the right moment.

johnnycanuck -> shitshitshit , Dec 17, 2017 4:20 PM

Because you can't just stop. It takes years and enormous amounts of money to put all the pieces needed in play.

It's not like a Vietnamese food truck start up

zebra77a -> shitshitshit , Dec 17, 2017 7:46 PM

-40 for weeks up there. Boiler shuts off, pipes freeze up in hours. Water expansion will crack it all apart. They don't even want air touching the inside of the pipes to prevent oxidation. The fun one is the Texans they don't know they because they think they can run a Fort Mcmurray oilsand plant like the ones they run in Texas. The only thing keeping the plant running is a pipeline of money..

Heat Trace has put many electricians kids through a lot of colleges and universities..

Profitability is not a big concern, grandmas pension money is stuck into companies like Exxon oil, it's not going anywhere, they'll pump at a loss for 3-5 years potentially before they will shut it all down..

But they'll drop the wages and lay people off in hours... Fort McMurray' s biggest export is skilled tradesmen now not oil..

CHX13 , Dec 17, 2017 3:58 PM

The future of the canadian oil sands stand on a slippery slope... ;-)

johnnycanuck , Dec 17, 2017 4:12 PM

That's what happens when CONswervatives sell out their country's ability to control it's resources and it's means to get them to market.

They sold out Canada's publicly owned railway, then they sold out one of the last remaining Crown Jewels, the Canadian Wheat Board which not only owned it's own rail cars, but successfully managed export shipments for decades via it's reliable and well managed access to ports

Said hoakey Free Market sales pitch is just another means of screwing a country and it's citizens out of it's wealth.

The Koch bros for example, have made out like bandits at the expense of Canadian citizens right to fair profits from it's oil reserves that the likes of Koch had nothing to do with it's expensive development stage. Perhaps more appropriate description of Koch Ind is, like a Bedouin Sheik vanishing in the night with their plunder.

Said CONswervatives even went so far as to screw up Canada's grain marketing system in favor of...drum roll please.. A US hedge fund and Saudi Arabia.

But then, when their political nemisises, the Liberal Party of Canada trades off with said CONswervatives, in our times, they do nothing except extol the virtues of Free Trade. Which, all bullshit aside, means they are on the same side and what few differences there once were, like where you can stick your thingy, and into whom, are fast disappearing.

I don't expect Murikans to understand the landscape of Canadian politics, as Canada isn't a major part of the centre of their consumer society oriented Universe.

[Dec 16, 2017] IEA Dashes Bullish Sentiment In Oil OilPrice.com

Notable quotes:
"... Big Finance not shying away from shale ..."
Dec 16, 2017 | oilprice.com

Big Finance not shying away from shale . Hedge funds and private equity are pouring money into the shale patch despite a growing chorus of investors demanding higher returns from shale companies, according to Reuters . The pressure from investors raised questions about Wall Street's commitment to the shale industry, but Reuters says that the flow of money has continued to flood in unabated.

[Dec 16, 2017] Mohammed bin Salman's ill-advised ventures have weakened Saudi Arabia, by Patrick Cockburn - The Unz Review

Notable quotes:
"... We are the ones who have been fomenting destabilization all throughout the region some of whom would have been allies of the Saudis in some common cause. ..."
"... I think there are more effective choices concerning Yemen and Qatar. But figuring out what the choices are is not going to be easy. And harder still perhaps is implementing them. As for backfire -- we are just not in a position to judge, at the moment. Anyone hoping that another major state collapses in that region is probably miscalculating the value of instability. ..."
Dec 16, 2017 | www.unz.com

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) of Saudi Arabia is the undoubted Middle East man of the year, but his great impact stems more from his failures than his successes. He is accused of being Machiavellian in clearing his way to the throne by the elimination of opponents inside and outside the royal family. But, when it comes to Saudi Arabia's position in the world, his miscalculations remind one less of the cunning manoeuvres of Machiavelli and more of the pratfalls of Inspector Clouseau.

Again and again, the impulsive and mercurial young prince has embarked on ventures abroad that achieve the exact opposite of what he intended. When his father became king in early 2015, he gave support to a rebel offensive in Syria that achieved some success but provoked full-scale Russian military intervention, which in turn led to the victory of President Bashar al-Assad. At about the same time, MbS launched Saudi armed intervention, mostly through airstrikes, in the civil war in Yemen. The action was code-named Operation Decisive Storm, but two and a half years later the war is still going on, has killed 10,000 people and brought at least seven million Yemenis close to starvation.

The Crown Prince is focusing Saudi foreign policy on aggressive opposition to Iran and its regional allies, but the effect of his policies has been to increase Iranian influence. The feud with Qatar, in which Saudi Arabia and the UAE play the leading role, led to a blockade being imposed five months ago which is still going on. The offence of the Qataris was to have given support to al-Qaeda type movements – an accusation that was true enough but could be levelled equally at Saudi Arabia – and to having links with Iran. The net result of the anti-Qatari campaign has been to drive the small but fabulously wealthy state further into the Iranian embrace.

Saudi relations with other countries used to be cautious, conservative and aimed at preserving the status quo. But today its behaviour is zany, unpredictable and often counterproductive: witness the bizarre episode in November when the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was summoned to Riyadh, not allowed to depart and forced to resign his position. The objective of this ill-considered action on the part of Saudi Arabia was apparently to weaken Hezbollah and Iran in Lebanon, but has in practice empowered both of them.

What all these Saudi actions have in common is that they are based on a naïve presumption that "a best-case scenario" will inevitably be achieved. There is no "Plan B" and not much of a "Plan A": Saudi Arabia is simply plugging into conflicts and confrontations it has no idea how to bring to an end.

MbS and his advisers may imagine that it does not matter what Yemenis, Qataris or Lebanese think because President Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser, are firmly in their corner. "I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing," tweeted Trump in early November after the round up and confinement of some 200 members of the Saudi elite. "Some of those they are harshly treating have been 'milking' their country for years!" Earlier he had tweeted support for the attempt to isolate Qatar as a supporter of "terrorism".

But Saudi Arabia is learning that support from the White House these days brings fewer advantages than in the past. The attention span of Donald Trump is notoriously short, and his preoccupation is with domestic US politics: his approval does not necessarily mean the approval of other parts of the US government. The State Department and the Pentagon may disapprove of the latest Trump tweet and seek to ignore or circumvent it. Despite his positive tweet, the US did not back the Saudi confrontation with Qatar or the attempt to get Mr Hariri to resign as prime minister of Lebanon.

For its part, the White House is finding out the limitations of Saudi power. MbS was not able to get the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to agree to a US-sponsored peace plan that would have given Israel very much and the Palestinians very little. The idea of a Saudi-Israeli covert alliance against Iran may sound attractive to some Washington think tanks, but does not make much sense on the ground. The assumption that Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the promise to move the US embassy there, would have no long-term effects on attitudes in the Middle East is beginning to look shaky.

It is Saudi Arabia – and not its rivals – that is becoming isolated. The political balance of power in the region changed to its disadvantage over the last two years. Some of this predates the elevation of MbS: by 2015 it was becoming clear that a combination of Sunni states led by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey was failing to carry out regime change in Damascus. This powerful grouping has fragmented, with Turkey and Qatar moving closer to the Russian-backed Iranian-led axis, which is the dominant power in the northern tier of the Middle East between Afghanistan and the Mediterranean.

If the US and Saudi Arabia wanted to do anything about this new alignment, they have left it too late. Other states in the Middle East are coming to recognise that there are winners and losers, and have no wish to be on the losing side. When President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called a meeting this week in Istanbul of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, to which 57 Muslim states belong, to reject and condemn the US decision on Jerusalem, Saudi Arabia only sent a junior representative to this normally moribund organisation. But other state leaders like Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, King Abdullah of Jordan and the emirs of Kuwait and Qatar, among many others, were present. They recognised East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital and demanded the US reverse its decision.

MbS is in the tradition of leaders all over the world who show Machiavellian skills in securing power within their own countries. But their success domestically gives them an exaggerated sense of their own capacity in dealing with foreign affairs, and this can have calamitous consequences. Saddam Hussein was very acute in seizing power in Iraq but ruined his country by starting two wars he could not win.

Mistakes made by powerful leaders are often explained by their own egomania and ignorance, supplemented by flattering but misleading advice from their senior lieutenants. The first steps in foreign intervention are often alluring because a leader can present himself as a national standard bearer, justifying his monopoly of power at home. Such a patriotic posture is a shortcut to popularity, but there is always a political bill to pay if confrontations and wars end in frustration and defeat. MbS has unwisely decided that Saudi Arabia should play a more active and aggressive role at the very moment that its real political and economic strength is ebbing. He is overplaying his hand and making too many enemies.

Svigor , December 16, 2017 at 6:24 am GMT
The only hope someone as cloistered as a Saudi crown prince can have of being an effective ruler is either by being an extraordinary person (very curious, love learning for its own sake, etc), or be at least moderately intelligent, and listen to consensus.

For its part, the White House is finding out the limitations of Saudi power. MbS was not able to get the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to agree to a US-sponsored peace plan that would have given Israel very much and the Palestinians very little.

Lies and Jew-hatred. Everyone knows that despite their infamous sharpness in business dealings, the world's longest history of legalism, a completely self-centered and ethnocentric culture, and their longstanding abuse of the Palestinians, every single deal the Jews try to sign with the Palestinians heavily favors the Palestinians, and the only reason the Palestinians won't sign is because they're psychotic Jew-haters.

The idea of a Saudi-Israeli covert alliance against Iran may sound attractive to some Washington think tanks, but does not make much sense on the ground. The assumption that Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the promise to move the US embassy there, would have no long-term effects on attitudes in the Middle East is beginning to look shaky.

Hey, you skipped the part where you did anything to support the idea that a Zionist-Saudi alliance doesn't make sense.

K, let's all wait for Art Deco to come in and spew some Hasbara then tell us he's not a Zhid.

Avery , December 16, 2017 at 6:28 am GMT
{Mohammed Bin Salman's Ill-Advised Ventures Have Weakened Saudi Arabia}

GREAT news. Hopefully the evil, cannibalistic terrorism spreading so-called 'kingdom' of desert nomads will continue on its path of self destruction, and disappear as a functioning state.

Tammy , December 16, 2017 at 9:51 am GMT
Once more a Saudi Firster was detained in KSA. This time the owner of Arab Bank, a Jordanian with dual Jordan and KSA citizenship. Saad Hariri a Lebanese was the first one who was dual Lebanon and KSA citizens and who lost his diplomatic immunity in KSA.

I wonder if the Israel Firster who are dual citizens are now sweating? Wonder, if Netanyahu is still an USA citizen? Happy days are coming back .

Jake , December 16, 2017 at 12:31 pm GMT
"Saudi relations with other countries used to be cautious, conservative and aimed at preserving the status quo. But today its behaviour is zany, unpredictable and often counterproductive:"

Saudis allied with Israelis, backed by the wealth and might of the US? Guaranteed to bring out the worst in Saudis (which is bad enough at base) and Israelis and Americans.

cbrown , December 16, 2017 at 1:07 pm GMT
Machiavellian skills really ? I'd see 6 months ahead if this was true. MBS just made a show that they are a de facto Mafia not a businessman to the whole world. I'd bet he just quashed a lot of efforts and money spent on raising the racing horses of the saud monarch and in turn destroyed some serious connection that were vital but aren't readily available to them. Just how potent money they thought it would be ? Sure all is businesses and it will work so long you can pay the right person. The problem is where to find the right person.
Joe Hide , December 16, 2017 at 1:53 pm GMT
Come on Cockburn, look at the Big Picture, not the little one. This the old fallacy of looking at the trees and not seeing the forest. What is happening in Saudi Arabia is a piece of the much bigger puzzle being put together over years, decades, and maybe generations.

The psychopaths at the top of the power pyramid have been engaged in this hidden global game for generations, it's always been part of their longterm strategy.

Very recently Highly intelligent, realistic, morally and ethically centered, and practically oriented individuals, have also formed secret powerful groups to arrive at beneficial goals for humanity. These truly Good Guys have learned that the criminal, murderous, lecherous, degenerate, deviate, psychopaths in positions of great power are irredeemable and should be eliminated where possible. What you see in Saudi Arabia is merely a tree, not the forest. Just the same, to the author, keep writing but research the subject much much more before you put pen to paper, as you do have apersuasive and talented style.

EliteCommInc. , December 16, 2017 at 2:25 pm GMT
I am going to come to the defence here.

1. We have been screaming about the unintended consequences of Saudi giving to charities since 2004.

2. We removed the buffer of Iraq from Iranian ambitions (as unclear as it may be debated) creating issues not only for Saudi Arabia, but others in the region as well.

3. We are the ones who have been fomenting destabilization all throughout the region some of whom would have been allies of the Saudis in some common cause.

4. No one is escaping the negative consequences of our Iraq invasion.

5. We have been complaining about rogue and irresponsible wealthy Muslims ad naseum.

Now when someone steps up the plate to meet the challenges many caused by the US – our first complaint is not astute counsel but rather a series of articles highlighting failure. I would not contend that I support every choice. But I think we should at least take a wait and see perspective. He is operating in a region rife with intrigue and ambitions, not to mention -- Muslims bent on spreading Islam as one would expect a muslim to do. Frankly I am not sure how one governs in the arena of the middle east – especially now – it's a region in major shift.

I think there are more effective choices concerning Yemen and Qatar. But figuring out what the choices are is not going to be easy. And harder still perhaps is implementing them. As for backfire -- we are just not in a position to judge, at the moment. Anyone hoping that another major state collapses in that region is probably miscalculating the value of instability.

DESERT FOX , December 16, 2017 at 2:39 pm GMT
The Saudis are the U.S. and ISISRAELS puppet, they do what the Zionist neocons tell them to do, which is to be the Zionist agent provocateur in the Mideast.

The Saudis have helped the U.S. and ISISRAEL create and finance ISIS aka AL CIADA and for this the Saudis can rot in hell, and by the way the reason for the attack on Yemen is that the Saudis oil reserves are diminishing and so the Saudis figured they would take Yemens oil.

The main creators of ISIS aka AL CIADA are the U.S. and ISISRAEL and BRITAIN ie the CIA and the MOSSAD and MI6.

Anon , Disclaimer December 16, 2017 at 4:55 pm GMT
The irony is that Saudis, before MbS and during his dominance, are making exactly the same suicidal blunders as the US. No enemy could have damaged the US and its positions in the world more than its Presidents and the Congress in the last 17 years. The same is true for KSA, with the same mistakes being made: undermining the financial system of the country, global over-reach that forces all opposition to unite, crazy military expenses, etc.
Art , December 16, 2017 at 5:57 pm GMT
Sorry, but these people dressed in 14 century robes and garb, cannot be taken seriously. They look like play-people feigning a furious grandeur. Without their petrochemicals – they would be laughed at by everyone – including their own kind. They should not be respected because they are religious – they are old world tribalist thugs hiding behind a religion. They use and abuse their people – holding them back from modernity.

Think Peace -- Art

Anon , Disclaimer December 16, 2017 at 6:17 pm GMT
@Z-man

Thing is, Saudi regime was rotten through and through before MbS, remains rotten under his rule, and will remain rotten when some other jerk kicks him out and establishes himself at the helm.

neutral , December 16, 2017 at 6:31 pm GMT
It does not matter how smart Saudi Arabia is with their foreign policy now, they became allies with Israel, that means Saudi Arabia can never claim to be a power working for the interests of Islam. MBS is a marked man, no matter how many purges he undertakes in his army, or even if he just hires Pakistani soldiers, if he has Muslims fighting in his army he will always be carrying the risk of being assassinated by somebody who has seen him cross the red line and become pro jewish.
Svigor , December 16, 2017 at 6:51 pm GMT
I don't really understand the constant hopes that the Saudi regime will fall. How is that any different from cheering Bush's disastrous regime change in Iraq? How will the fallout be any better in Arabia than it was in Iraq, Libya, etc?
cbrown , December 16, 2017 at 7:43 pm GMT
@Svigor

It's not that there's a constant hope it's just they'd fall in the near future and fortunately it will balance the geopolitical power in the future. Their fallout aren't going to be as bad unless the people pulling their string persistent in keeping them in power.

neutral , December 16, 2017 at 8:14 pm GMT
@Svigor

It will be better because it means Israel loses an ally, also with the Saudis gone Egypt will also be unable to keep their population in check. The fall of the Saudis means that Israel will be surrounded by regimes that oppose it...

someone , December 17, 2017 at 12:14 am GMT
Another Junior Gaddafi that is going to ruin his entire nation while intoxicated with NYT or other Western media coverage. He talks of corruption after spending 1.1 Billion dollars on a yacht and a painting.
Netenyahu is much the same. He has weakened Israel immensely by playing the scary wolf.
anon , Disclaimer December 17, 2017 at 12:33 am GMT
@neutral

South Africa was never in danger from their hostile neighbors . They committed suicide. Egypt cannot control its own territory let alone start wars , ditto for Syria and Lebanon. Jordan is a client state of Israel and lacks a functioning army. ...

[Dec 16, 2017] Is The Oil Glut Set To Return

Notable quotes:
"... Old "classic" land-based oil fields deteriorate to the tune of 5% per year, while deep sea deteriorate more and subprime wells much more. You can probably double the figure for each, although much depends on particular geology. Infill drilling accelerates depletion, allowing to maintain high production for sometimes so changes can be abrupt. ..."
"... Moreover, with each year, "subprime wells" (multi-stage shale well) costs more and now are at a range of n 6-10 million depending on the number and the length of horizontals and number of fracking stages and other factors. Only few area (sweet spots) can recover this capital investment during the life of the shale well at current prices). More at around $80 and almost all around $100 per barrel. The later is also the price that KSA needs to remain solvent (rumored to be in low 90th). ..."
"... The shale oil produced in the USA is really "subprime" because large part of it has lower energy content (by 20% or more) and different mix of various hydrocarbons that "classic" oil. Especially condensate from gas wells. Which optimally can be used only as diluter for heavy oil. EIA does not differentiate between different types oil and use wrong metric (volume instead of weight). May be intentionally. ..."
"... Another factor is that world consumption continue to grow and will do so because population in large part of Asia and Africa is still growing and number of cars on the road increase each year requiring on average 1-1.4 MB/d additionally. ..."
"... By continuing its' easy money policies well past any recession or growth scare, the Fed has created a monster. Most shale companies aren't profitable and are in fact losing money using any kind of GAAP. However, cheap financing allows them to survive and "drill baby drill." The unintended consequences may include destabilizing Saudi Arabia to the point of an economic and political collapse. One can always hope ..."
"... Economic collapse in Venezuela due to low oil prices – good! Economic collapse in Saudi Arabia due to low oil prices – bad! Solution – extend cheap financing to Saudi Arabia via Aramco IPO! ..."
"... The 36″ North Sea Forties pipeline is currently shut down for repairs. Short and medium term prices will carry the effect of that supply loss. In the long term, unexpected developments are common. Considering how completely wrong so many oil analysts have been over the past ten years, including the IEA, there is not a lot of credibility in oil market predictions. ..."
Dec 16, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

likbez , , December 17, 7935 at 3:13 pm

My impression is that this a gap (could be intentional) between IEA statistics and predictions and the reality. This is propaganda agency after all, with the explicit agenda of keeping the oil price for Us consumers low. So typically that produce too "rosy" forecasts that later are quietly corrected. Their short-term forecasts are based on oil futures and as such has nothing to do with the reality on the ground. Which is quite disturbing.

It is undeniable that shale boom which played such a beneficial role for the USA allowing to squeeze oil price (with generous help from KSA) for two and half years is dead.

Now is kept artificially alive by junk bonds and directs loans that will never be repaid. In other words, the USA now enjoys a period of "subprime oil. Unless there is a new technological breakthrough there will be an only minor improvement in efficiency of drilling and oil extraction in the next couple of years, but the lion share of those was already implemented, and on the current technological level we are close to the "peak efficiency" in drilling and services.

Those minor efficiencies will be negated by rising prices of service industries, which can't take the current pricing any longer and need to raise prices for their services.

Old "classic" land-based oil fields deteriorate to the tune of 5% per year, while deep sea deteriorate more and subprime wells much more. You can probably double the figure for each, although much depends on particular geology. Infill drilling accelerates depletion, allowing to maintain high production for sometimes so changes can be abrupt.

In any case each year you need somehow to find 5 MB/d of oil, finance new wells in those areas and infrastructure required. All Us shale production is around 6 MD/day. So you get the idea.

Moreover, with each year, "subprime wells" (multi-stage shale well) costs more and now are at a range of n 6-10 million depending on the number and the length of horizontals and number of fracking stages and other factors. Only few area (sweet spots) can recover this capital investment during the life of the shale well at current prices). More at around $80 and almost all around $100 per barrel. The later is also the price that KSA needs to remain solvent (rumored to be in low 90th).

The shale oil produced in the USA is really "subprime" because large part of it has lower energy content (by 20% or more) and different mix of various hydrocarbons that "classic" oil. Especially condensate from gas wells. Which optimally can be used only as diluter for heavy oil. EIA does not differentiate between different types oil and use wrong metric (volume instead of weight). May be intentionally.

So the future remains unpredictable but general trend for oil prices might be up with some spikes, not down. Although many people, including myself, thought so in early 2015 ;-)

Another factor is that world consumption continue to grow and will do so because population in large part of Asia and Africa is still growing and number of cars on the road increase each year requiring on average 1-1.4 MB/d additionally.

So it looks like the situation gradually deteriorate despite all efforts and related technological breakthrough which allow to extract more from the old wells and more efficiently extract shale oil.

The problem is that new large deposits are very hard to find now and several previously oil-exporting countries gradually became oil-importers. Mexico is one, which will be huge hit.

Obama administration screw the opportunity to move US consumers to hybrid cars so the situation in the USA deteriorates too despite rise of percentage of more economical vehicle in the personal car fleet each year. Rumors were that they pursue vendetta against Russia and that was primary consideration - to crash Russian economy and install a new "Yeltsin".

The USA generally is in better position then many other countries as the switch to natural gas and hybrid electric cars for personal transportation is still possible. It already happened in several European countries for selected types of cars, buses and trucks (taxi, in-city buses and "daily round trip or short trips trucks).

But there is no money for infrastructure anymore and for example many miles of US rail remain non-electrified. Burning diesel instead.

As maintenance was neglected for two and half year disruption of existing supply might became more frequent. also mid Eastern war is also a possibility with Trump saber-rattling against Iran. Recently the leak in undersea pipeline removed 0.5 MB/d from the market and caused a price spike to $65 for Brent (WTI remains cheaper and never crosses $60 this time).

Also with a young prince in charge and the revolution against "old guard" KSA became more and more unstable so the next "oil shock" might come from them. They also have problem of depletion which until now they compensated pitting more and more heavy high sulfur oil deposits online. At some point they will be exhausted too. They also pitch for war with Iran, but they would prefer somebody else to do heavy lifting.

The only one or countries still can significantly increase oil production now – Libya (were we have problem because of the civil war after US-sponsored Kaddafi removal and killing), and Iraq where there are still untapped areas that might contain some oil; nothing big, but still substantial in the range of 1 MB/d. Looks like Iran now exports all it could. Same is true for KSA and Russia. In this sense OPEN oil production cuts might an attempt to preserve impression that they are untapped reserved. I doubt that there are much and those cuts are just a reasonable insurance policy against quick depletion of existing wells as higher price gives some space for innovation.

There is also such thing as EBITRA which gradually deteriorates everywhere and can become negative for certain types of oil (for oil sands it depends on the price of natural gas and they are primary candidate if the price doubles or triples from the current level).

Jim Haygood , December 15, 2017 at 7:07 am

' The surplus will be front-loaded – the first half of the year will see a glut of about 200,000 bpd. '

That don't square at all with WTI futures being backwardated from Feb 2018 ($57.08) to Dec 2022 ($49.79).

http://data.tradingcharts.com/futures/quotes/cl.html

Me so bullish

ChrisFromGeorgia , December 15, 2017 at 7:46 am

By continuing its' easy money policies well past any recession or growth scare, the Fed has created a monster. Most shale companies aren't profitable and are in fact losing money using any kind of GAAP. However, cheap financing allows them to survive and "drill baby drill." The unintended consequences may include destabilizing Saudi Arabia to the point of an economic and political collapse. One can always hope

nonsense factory , December 15, 2017 at 11:19 am

Economic collapse in Venezuela due to low oil prices – good! Economic collapse in Saudi Arabia due to low oil prices – bad! Solution – extend cheap financing to Saudi Arabia via Aramco IPO!

Meanwhile, China says it will be moving to all-electric cars and trucks to help solve its horrible urban air pollution problem. . . Meaning global demand has nowhere to go but down.

Why do I feel that this will not end well for the American hegemon? Particularly with Trump in office working overtime with boy genius Rick Perry to promote coal and sabotage renewable energy. . .

Octopii , December 15, 2017 at 8:14 am

The 36″ North Sea Forties pipeline is currently shut down for repairs. Short and medium term prices will carry the effect of that supply loss. In the long term, unexpected developments are common. Considering how completely wrong so many oil analysts have been over the past ten years, including the IEA, there is not a lot of credibility in oil market predictions.

[Dec 16, 2017] Condensate is not oil and now wells produce more and more condesate. So the IEA volume of condesate probably should be discounted 30% as energy content is lower. And not counted along with "real" oil.

Notable quotes:
"... There's no industry capability to put this figure as a fact. They still have people looking at tankers with binoculars figuring out how much the Sauds are putting out. Even better the WSJ printed in a story last week that the Sauds were putting out oil at $2.25 a barrel! ..."
"... Anyway, all oil numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, always. Shale is meeting with increasing geological limits, going to cost even more to produce, this in an industry that's never made a profit, even at $100 and is some $280 billion in debt, which I guess its good debt doesn't mean anything. ..."
"... Condensate is not the oil, "black gold, Texas tea" of old and fact is that type of oil basically peaked a decade ago in low 70s mbd. Shale fields have always produced a lot of condensate and are now producing more and increasing amounts of just gas. ..."
"... Anyway "oil glut" has always been at best a nebulous term for many reasons, but then we here in the US just think, as Mr. Obama proudly stated in his last State of the Union, "$2 a gallon gas ain't bad either." ..."
Dec 16, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

joecostello , December 15, 2017 at 8:26 am

"OPEC production fell by 130,000 bpd in November, due to lower output in Saudi Arabia,"

There's no industry capability to put this figure as a fact. They still have people looking at tankers with binoculars figuring out how much the Sauds are putting out. Even better the WSJ printed in a story last week that the Sauds were putting out oil at $2.25 a barrel!

Anyway, all oil numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, always. Shale is meeting with increasing geological limits, going to cost even more to produce, this in an industry that's never made a profit, even at $100 and is some $280 billion in debt, which I guess its good debt doesn't mean anything.

And the band played on

joecostello , December 15, 2017 at 9:23 am

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-14/u-s-oil-cocktails-spoil-chemistry-in-budding-asian-love-affair

this is good piece on Asia refiners having trouble with US shale as US refiners have previously.

Condensate is not the oil, "black gold, Texas tea" of old and fact is that type of oil basically peaked a decade ago in low 70s mbd. Shale fields have always produced a lot of condensate and are now producing more and increasing amounts of just gas.

Anyway "oil glut" has always been at best a nebulous term for many reasons, but then we here in the US just think, as Mr. Obama proudly stated in his last State of the Union, "$2 a gallon gas ain't bad either."

[Dec 09, 2017] The great Middle East energy game Winners and losers - Opinion

Dec 09, 2017 | www.jpost.com

Simultaneously, it has managed to develop fairly profitable, albeit at times tense relationships with other major or rising world powers. Those include Russia, China and Turkey. At the same time it is engaging a large number of European countries, South Korea, India, and others in assorted trade agreements. Iran has managed to place itself front and center – not only as a bad actor bent on colonization of the "Shi'a Crescent" and possibly beyond – it has also gained increasing political and economic legitimacy among its former adversaries.

Iran has even managed to get the United States under the Trump administration to wage limited war against ISIS, first in Iraq and Syria and to a lesser extent in Afghanistan, despite conflicts and occasional confrontations between US forces and the terrorist group's own militias. While Iran's various financial deals are to some extent being tracked, what remains noteworthy is the issue of energy control in the region, a factor that fuels the numerous conflicts, or at least finances them.

... ... ...

The US has miscalculated by believing other countries are incapable of pursuing independent interests without its involvement, or by thinking such nations cannot use energy markets effectively to marginalize any state that is not already in an active leadership position. The US should take stock of the way the energy assets are being played by various states. It should either separate the authoritarian regimes which only grow stronger with the greater access and interconnections such valuable assets provide, or by outplaying those states at their own game.

[Dec 08, 2017] Putin opens Russia's $27bn Arctic LNG plant

The US sanctions were partially anticompetitive move to block Russia selling its hydrocarbons to lucrative EU market. Now Russia is becoming a major player in LNG and things might become more complex for the USA as all US efforts to built LNG infrastructure int he USA in order to export the US LNG to Europe now are can backfire.
Notable quotes:
"... Russia plans to build 15 tankers as big as the 'Christophe de Margerie'. ..."
"... "Russia must accelerate work on development capacity to produce liquefied natural gas," Putin said at the ceremony. ..."
"... Costing $27 billion, the plant will have three production lines and a total capacity of 16.5 million tons of LNG per year. ..."
"... Shareholders of the Novatek project - Total and CNPC - will purchase LNG on a long-term basis. ..."
"... The ceremony was also attended by a member of Saudi Aramco's board of directors. The kingdom is considering taking part in Novatek's new project, Arctic LNG 2, according to Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak. ..."
Dec 08, 2017 | www.rt.com

Russia has opened a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in the country's northern region of Yamal. The first tanker with LNG was launched on Friday by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The ice-breaking tanker is named after the former CEO of Total Christophe de Margerie who died in a plane crash in Russia. The tanker can carry up to 173,000 cubic meters of LNG. Russia plans to build 15 tankers as big as the 'Christophe de Margerie'.

"Russia must accelerate work on development capacity to produce liquefied natural gas," Putin said at the ceremony.

The controlling stake in the enterprise belongs to Russian energy major Novatek. Twenty percent each is owned by Total, and China's CNPC, and the remaining 9.9 percent belongs to the China-based Silk Road Fund. Costing $27 billion, the plant will have three production lines and a total capacity of 16.5 million tons of LNG per year.

Almost 96 percent of the Yamal LNG plant's production has already been contracted. The main customers will be the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, Novatek reported. Shareholders of the Novatek project - Total and CNPC - will purchase LNG on a long-term basis.

The ceremony was also attended by a member of Saudi Aramco's board of directors. The kingdom is considering taking part in Novatek's new project, Arctic LNG 2, according to Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak.

Read more Russian LNG unfazed by US sanctions

[Dec 05, 2017] Further sabotage of the Iran deal would not bring success -- only embarrassment

This is two years old article. Not much changed... Comments sound as written yesterday. Check it out !
The key incentive to Iran deal is using Iran as a Trojan horse against Russia in oil market -- the force which helps to keep oil prices low, benefitting the USA and other G7 members and hurting Russia and other oil-producing nations. Iran might also serve as a replacement market for EU goods as Russian market is partially lost. Due to sanctions EU now lost (and probably irrevocably) Russian market for food, and have difficulties in maintaining their share in other sectors (cars, machinery) as Asian tigers come in.
Notable quotes:
"... The waning clout stems from the lobby siding with the revanchist Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, whose Iran strategy since the 2012 US presidential campaign has been to unabashedly side with Republican hawks. AIPAC's alignment with the position effectively caused the group to marginalize itself; the GOP is now the only place where AIPAC can today find lockstep support. The tens of millions AIPAC spent lobbying against the deal were unable to obscure this dynamic. ..."
"... Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina took to the floor during the debate and pulled out an old trick from the run-up to the Iraq war: blaming Iran for 9/11 and saying a failure to act would result in a worse attack – is any indication, even Democrats like the pro-Israel hawk Chuck Schumer will find it untenable to sidle up to AIPAC and the Republicans. ..."
"... The problem with the right in the USA is that they offer no alternatives, nothing, nada and zilch they have become the opposition party of opposition. They rely on talking point memes and fear, and it has become the party of extremism and simplicity offering low hanging fruit and red meat this was on perfect display at their anti Iran deal rally, palin, trump, beck and phil robinson who commands ducks apparently. ..."
"... Is it any wonder the Iranians don't trust the US. After the US's spying exploits during the Iraqi WMD inspections, why are you surprised that Iran asks for 24 days notice of inspection (enough time to clear out conventional weapons development but not enough to remove evidence of nuclear weapons development). ..."
"... Most Americans don't know the CIA overthrew the Iranian government in 1953 and installed the Shaw. Most Republicans know that most Americans will believe what Fox news tells them. Republicans live in an alternate universe where there is no climate change, mammon is worshiped and wisdom is rejected hatred is accepted negotiation is replaced by perpetual warfare. Now most Americans are tired of stupid leadership and the Republicans are in big trouble. ..."
"... AIPAC - Eventually everything is seen for what is truly is. ..."
"... Israel is opposed because they wish to maintain their nuclear weapons monopoly in the region ..."
"... With the threat you describe from Israel it seems only sensible for Iran to develop nuclear weapons - if my was country (Scotland) was in Iran's place and what you said is true i would only support politicians who promised fast and large scale production of atomic weapons to counter the clear threat to my nation. ..."
"... Netanyahu loves to play the victim, but he is the primary cause that Jews worldwide, but especially in the United States, are rethinking the idea of "Israel." I know very few people who willingly identify with a strident right wing government comprised of rabid nationalists, religious fundamentalists, and a violent, almost apocalyptic settler community. ..."
"... The Israeli electorate has indicated which path it wishes to travel, but that does not obligate Jews throughout the world to support a government whose policies they find odious. ..."
"... As part of this deal the US and allies should guarantee Iran protection against Israeli aggression. Otherwise, considering Israel's threats, Iran is well justified in seeking a nuclear deterrent. ..."
"... AIPAC's defeat shows that their grip on the testicles of congress has been broken. ..."
"... Their primary goal was to keep Iran isolated and economically weak. They knew full well that the Iranians hadn't had a nuclear program since 2003, but Netanhayu needed an existential threat to Israel in order to justify his grip on power. All of this charade has bee at the instigation of and directed by Israel. And they lost They were beaten by that hated schwartze and the liberals that Israel normally counts on for unthinking support. ..."
"... No doubt Netanyahu will raise the level of his anger; he just can't accept that a United States president would do anything on which Israel hadn't stamped its imprimatur. It gets tiresome listening to him. ..."
"... It is this deal that feeds the military industrial complex. We've already heard Kerry give Israel and Saudi Arabia assurances of more weapons. And that $150 billion released to Iran? A healthy portion will be spent for arms..American, Russian, Chinese. Most of the commenters have this completely backwards. This deal means a bonanza for the arms industry. ..."
"... The Iran nuclear agreement accomplishes the US policy goal of preventing the creation of the fissionable material required for an Iranian nuclear weapons program. What the agreement does not do is eliminate Iran as a regional military and economic power, as the Israelis and Saudis -- who have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to lobby American politicians and brainwash American TV viewers -- would prefer. ..."
"... Rejection equals war. It's not surprising that the same crowd most stridently demanding rejection of the agreement advocated the disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq. These homicidal fools never learn, or don't care as long as it's not their lives at risk. ..."
"... And how did the Republicans' foreign policy work out? Reagan created and financed Al Qaeda. Then Bush II invades Iraq with promises the Iraqis will welcome us with flowers (!), the war will be over in a few weeks and pay for itself, and the middle east will have a nascent democracy (Iraq) that will be a grateful US ally. ..."
"... I've seen Iranian statements playing internal politics, but I have never seen any actual Iranian threats. I've seen plenty about Israel assassinating people in other countries, using incendiaries and chemical weapons against civilians in other countries, conducting illegal kidnappings overseas, using terrorism as a weapon of war, developing nuclear weapons illegally, ethnically cleansing illegally occupied territories, that sort of thing. ..."
"... Iran is not a made-up country like Iraq it is as old as Greece. If the Iraq war was sold as pushover and failed miserably then an Iran war would be unthinkable. War can be started in an instant diplomacy take time. UK, France, Germany & EU all agree its an acceptable alternative to war. So as these countries hardly ever agree it is clear the deal is a good one. ..."
"... Rank and file Americans don't even know what the Iran deal is. And can't be bothered to actually find out. They just listen to sound bites from politicians the loudest of whom have been the wildly partisan republicans claiming that it gives Iran a green light to a nuclear weapon. Not to mention those "less safe" polls are completely loaded. Certain buzz words will always produce negative results. If you associate something positive "feeling safe" or "in favor of" anything that Iran signs off on it comes across as indirectly supporting Iran and skews the results of the poll. "Iran" has been so strongly associated with evil and negative all you have to do is insert it into a sentence to make people feel negatively about the entire sentence. In order to get true data on the deal you would have to poll people on the individual clauses the deal. ..."
"... American Jews are facing one of the most interesting choices of recent US history. The Republican Party, which is pissing into a stiff wind of unfavorable demographics, seems to have decided it can even the playing field by peeling Jews away from the Democrats with promises to do whatever Israel wants. So we have the very strange (but quite real) prospect of Jews increasingly throwing in their lot with the party of Christian extremists whose ranks also include violent antiSemites. ..."
"... The American Warmonger Establishment (that now fully entrenched "Military Industrial Complex" against which no more keen observer than President Dwight Eisenhower warned us), is rip-shit over the Iran Agreement. WHAT? We can't Do More War? That will be terrible for further increasing our obscene 1-percent wealth. Let's side with Israeli wingnut Netanyahu, who cynically leverages "an eye for an eye for an eye for an eye" to hold his "Power." ..."
"... AIPAC is a dangerous anti-american organization, and a real and extant threat to the sovereignty of the U.S. Any elected official acting in concert with AIPAC is colluding with a foreign government to harm the U.S. and should be considered treasonous and an enemy of the American people. ..."
Sep 14, 2015 | The Guardian

The waning clout stems from the lobby siding with the revanchist Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, whose Iran strategy since the 2012 US presidential campaign has been to unabashedly side with Republican hawks. AIPAC's alignment with the position effectively caused the group to marginalize itself; the GOP is now the only place where AIPAC can today find lockstep support. The tens of millions AIPAC spent lobbying against the deal were unable to obscure this dynamic.

We may not look back at this as a sea change – some Senate Democrats who held firm against opposition to the deal are working with AIPAC to pass subsequent legislation that contains poison pills designed to kill it – but rather as a rising tide eroding the once sturdy bipartisan pro-Israeli government consensus on Capitol Hill. Some relationships have been frayed; previously stalwart allies of the Israel's interests, such as Vice President Joe Biden, have reportedly said the Iran deal fight soured them on AIPAC.

Even with the boundaries of its abilities on display, however, AIPAC will continue its efforts. "We urge those who have blocked a vote today to reconsider," the group said in a spin-heavy statement casting a pretty objective defeat as victory with the headline, "Bipartisan Senate Majority Rejects Iran Nuclear Deal." The group's allies in the Senate Republican Party have already promised to rehash the procedural vote next week, and its lobbyists are still rallying for support in the House. But the Senate's refusal to halt US support for the deal means that Senate Democrats are unlikely to reconsider, especially after witnessing Thursday's Republican hijinx in the House. These ploys look like little more than efforts to embarrass Obama into needing to cast a veto.

If Republicans' rhetoric leading up to to their flop in the Senate – Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina took to the floor during the debate and pulled out an old trick from the run-up to the Iraq war: blaming Iran for 9/11 and saying a failure to act would result in a worse attack – is any indication, even Democrats like the pro-Israel hawk Chuck Schumer will find it untenable to sidle up to AIPAC and the Republicans.

Opponents of the deal want to say the Democrats played politics instead of evaluating the deal honestly. That charge is ironic, to say the least, since most experts agree the nuclear deal is sound and the best agreement diplomacy could achieve. But there were politics at play: rather than siding with Obama, Congressional Democrats lined up against the Republican/Netanyahu alliance. The adamance of AIPAC ended up working against its stated interests.

Groups like AIPAC will go on touting their bipartisan bona fides without considering that their adoption of Netanyahu's own partisanship doomed them to a partisan result. Meanwhile, the ensuing fight, which will no doubt bring more of the legislative chaos we saw this week, won't be a cakewalk, so to speak, but will put the lie to AIPAC's claims it has a bipartisan consensus behind it. Despite their best efforts, Obama won't be the one embarrassed by the scrambling on the horizon.

TiredOldDog 13 Sep 2015 21:47

a foreign country whose still hell bent on committing war crimes

I guess this may mean Israel. If it does, how about we compare Assad's Syria, Iran and Israel. How many war crimes per day in the last 4 years and, maybe, some forecasts. Otherwise it's the usual gratuitous use of bad words at Israel. It has a purpose. To denigrate and dehumanize Israel or, at least, Zionism.

ID7612455 13 Sep 2015 18:04

The problem with the right in the USA is that they offer no alternatives, nothing, nada and zilch they have become the opposition party of opposition. They rely on talking point memes and fear, and it has become the party of extremism and simplicity offering low hanging fruit and red meat this was on perfect display at their anti Iran deal rally, palin, trump, beck and phil robinson who commands ducks apparently.

winemaster2 13 Sep 2015 17:01

Put a Brush Mustache on the control freak, greed creed, Nentanhayu the SOB not only looks like but has the same mentality as Hitler and his Nazism crap.

Martin Hutton -> mantishrimp 12 Sep 2015 23:50

I wondered when someone was going to bring up that "forgotten" fact. Is it any wonder the Iranians don't trust the US. After the US's spying exploits during the Iraqi WMD inspections, why are you surprised that Iran asks for 24 days notice of inspection (enough time to clear out conventional weapons development but not enough to remove evidence of nuclear weapons development).

mantishrimp 12 Sep 2015 20:51

Most Americans don't know the CIA overthrew the Iranian government in 1953 and installed the Shaw. Most Republicans know that most Americans will believe what Fox news tells them. Republicans live in an alternate universe where there is no climate change, mammon is worshiped and wisdom is rejected hatred is accepted negotiation is replaced by perpetual warfare. Now most Americans are tired of stupid leadership and the Republicans are in big trouble.

ByThePeople -> Sieggy 12 Sep 2015 20:27

Is pitiful how for months and months, certain individuals blathered on and on and on when it was fairly clear from the get go that this was a done deal and no one was about cater to the war criminal. I suppose it was good for them, sucking every last dime they could out of the AICPA & Co. while they acted like there was 'a chance'. Nope, only chance is that at the end of the day, a politician is a politician and he'll suck you dry as long as you let 'em.

What a pleasure it is to see the United States Congress finally not pimp themselves out completely to a foreign country whose still hell bent on committing war crimes. A once off I suppose, but it's one small step for Americans.

ByThePeople 12 Sep 2015 20:15

AIPAC - Eventually everything is seen for what is truly is.

ambushinthenight -> Greg Zeglen 12 Sep 2015 18:18

Seems that it makes a lot of sense to most everyone else in the world, it is now at the point where it really makes no difference whether the U.S. ratifies the deal or not. Israel is opposed because they wish to maintain their nuclear weapons monopoly in the region. Politicians here object for one of two reasons. They are Israeli first and foremost not American or for political expediency and a chance to try undo another of this President's achievements. Been a futile effort so far I'd say.

hello1678 -> BrianGriffin 12 Sep 2015 16:42

With the threat you describe from Israel it seems only sensible for Iran to develop nuclear weapons - if my was country (Scotland) was in Iran's place and what you said is true i would only support politicians who promised fast and large scale production of atomic weapons to counter the clear threat to my nation.

nardone -> Bruce Bahmani 12 Sep 2015 14:12

Netanyahu loves to play the victim, but he is the primary cause that Jews worldwide, but especially in the United States, are rethinking the idea of "Israel." I know very few people who willingly identify with a strident right wing government comprised of rabid nationalists, religious fundamentalists, and a violent, almost apocalyptic settler community.

The Israeli electorate has indicated which path it wishes to travel, but that does not obligate Jews throughout the world to support a government whose policies they find odious.

Greg Zeglen -> Glenn Gang 12 Sep 2015 13:51

good point which is found almost nowhere else...it is still necessary to understand that the whole line of diplomacy regarding the west on the part of Iran has been for generations one of deceit...and people are intensely jealous of what they hold dear - especially safety and liberty with in their country....

EarthyByNature -> Bruce Bahmani 12 Sep 2015 13:45

I do trust your on salary with a decent benefits package with the Israeli government or one of it's slavish US lobbyists. Let's face it, got to be hard work pouring out such hateful drivel.

BrianGriffin -> imipak 12 Sep 2015 12:53

The USA took about six years to build a bomb from scratch. The UK took almost six years to build a bomb. Russia was able to build a bomb in only four years (1945-1949). France took four years to build a bomb. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/France_and_weapons_of_mass_destruction

The Chinese only took four years. http://www.china.org.cn/english/congress/228244.htm

steelhead 12 Sep 2015 12:48

As part of this deal the US and allies should guarantee Iran protection against Israeli aggression. Otherwise, considering Israel's threats, Iran is well justified in seeking a nuclear deterrent.

BrianGriffin -> HauptmannGurski 12 Sep 2015 12:35

"Europe needs business desperately."

Sieggy 12 Sep 2015 12:32

In other words, once again, Obama out-played and out-thought both the GOP and AIPAC. He was playing multidimensional chess while they were playing checkers. The democrats kept their party discipline while the republicans ran around like a schoolyard full of sugared-up children. This is what happens when you have grownups competing with adolescents. The republican party, to put it very bluntly, can't get it together long enough to whistle 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' in unison.

They lost. Again. And worse than being losers, they're sore, whining, sniveling, blubbering losers. Even when they've been spanked - hard - they swear it's not over and they're gonna get even, just you wait and see! Get over it. They lost - badly - and the simple fact that their party is coming apart at the seams before our very eyes means they're going to be losing a lot more, too.

AIPAC's defeat shows that their grip on the testicles of congress has been broken. All the way around, a glorious victory for Obama, and an ignominious defeat for the republicans. And most especially, Israel. Their primary goal was to keep Iran isolated and economically weak. They knew full well that the Iranians hadn't had a nuclear program since 2003, but Netanhayu needed an existential threat to Israel in order to justify his grip on power. All of this charade has bee at the instigation of and directed by Israel. And they lost They were beaten by that hated schwartze and the liberals that Israel normally counts on for unthinking support.

Their worst loss, however, was losing the support of the American jews. Older, orthodox jews are Israel-firsters. The younger, less observant jews are Americans first. Netanhayu's behavior has driven a wedge between the US and Israel that is only going to deepen over time. And on top of that, Iran is re-entering the community of nations, and soon their economy will dominate the region. Bibi overplayed his hand very, very stupidly, and the real price that Israel will pay for his bungling will unfold over the next few decades.

BrianGriffin -> TiredOldDog 12 Sep 2015 12:18

"The Constitution provides that the president 'shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur'"

http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/briefing/Treaties.htm

Hardly a done deal. If Obama releases funds to Iran he probably would be committing an impeachable crime under US law. Even many Democrats would vote to impeach Obama for providing billions to a sworn enemy of Israel.

Glenn Gang -> Bruce Bahmani 12 Sep 2015 12:07

"...institutionally Iranclad(sic) HATRED towards the west..." Since you like all-caps so much, try this: "B.S."

The American propel(sic) actually figured out something else---that hardline haters like yourself are desperate to keep the cycle of Islamophobic mistrust and suspicion alive, and blind themselves to the fact that the rest of us have left you behind.

FACT: More than half of the population of Iran today was NOT EVEN BORN when radical students captured the U.S. Embassy in Teheran in 1979.

People like you, Bruce, conveniently ignore the fact that Ahmedinejad and his hardline followers were voted out of power in 2013, and that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei further marginalized them by allowing the election of new President Hassan Rouhani to stand, though he was and is an outspoken reformer advocating rapprochement with the west. While his outward rhetoric still has stern warnings about anticipated treachery by the 'Great Satan', Khamenei has allowed the Vienna agreement to go forward, and shows no sign of interfering with its implementation.

He is an old man, but he is neither stupid nor senile, and has clearly seen the crippling effects the international sanctions have had on his country and his people. Haters like you, Bruce, will insist that he ALWAYS has evil motives, just as Iranian hardliners (like Ahmedinejad) will ALWAYS believe that the U.S. has sinister motives and cannot EVER be trusted to uphold our end of any agreement. You ascribe HATRED in all caps to Iran, the whole country, while not acknowledging your own simmering hatred.

People like you will always find a 'boogeyman,' someone else to blame for your problems, real or imagined. You should get some help.

beenheretoolong 12 Sep 2015 10:57

No doubt Netanyahu will raise the level of his anger; he just can't accept that a United States president would do anything on which Israel hadn't stamped its imprimatur. It gets tiresome listening to him.

geneob 12 Sep 2015 10:12

It is this deal that feeds the military industrial complex. We've already heard Kerry give Israel and Saudi Arabia assurances of more weapons. And that $150 billion released to Iran? A healthy portion will be spent for arms..American, Russian, Chinese. Most of the commenters have this completely backwards. This deal means a bonanza for the arms industry.

Jack Hughes 12 Sep 2015 08:38

The Iran nuclear agreement accomplishes the US policy goal of preventing the creation of the fissionable material required for an Iranian nuclear weapons program.

What the agreement does not do is eliminate Iran as a regional military and economic power, as the Israelis and Saudis -- who have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to lobby American politicians and brainwash American TV viewers -- would prefer.

To reject the agreement is to accept the status quo, which is unacceptable, leaving an immediate and unprovoked American-led bombing campaign as the only other option.

Rejection equals war. It's not surprising that the same crowd most stridently demanding rejection of the agreement advocated the disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq. These homicidal fools never learn, or don't care as long as it's not their lives at risk.

American politicians opposed to the agreement are serving their short-term partisan political interests and, under America's system of legalized bribery, their Israeli and Saudi paymasters -- not America's long-term policy interests.

ID293404 -> Jeremiah2000 12 Sep 2015 05:01

And how did the Republicans' foreign policy work out? Reagan created and financed Al Qaeda. Then Bush II invades Iraq with promises the Iraqis will welcome us with flowers (!), the war will be over in a few weeks and pay for itself, and the middle east will have a nascent democracy (Iraq) that will be a grateful US ally.

He then has pictures taken of himself in a jet pilot's uniform on a US aircraft carrier with a huge sign saying Mission Accomplished. He attacks Afghanistan to capture Osama, lets him get away, and then attacks Iraq instead, which had nothing to do with 9/11 and no ties with Al Qaeda.

So then we have two interminable wars going on, thanks to brilliant Republican foreign policy, and spend gazillions of dollars while creating a mess that may never be straightened out. Never mind all the friends we won in the middle east and the enhanced reputation of our country through torture, the use of mercenaries, and the deaths and displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians. Yeah, we really need those bright Republicans running the show over in the Middle East!

HauptmannGurski -> lazman 12 Sep 2015 02:31

That is a very difficult point to understand, just look at this sentence "not understanding the fact in international affairs that to disrespect an American president is to disrespect Americans" ... too much emperor thinking for me. We have this conversation with regard to Putin everywhere now, so we disrespect all 143 million Russians? There's not a lot of disrespect around for Japanese PM Abe and Chinese Xi - does this now mean we respect them and all Japanese and Chinese? Election campaigns create such enormous personality cults that people seem to lose perspective.

On the Iran deal, if the US had dropped out of it it would have caused quite a rift because many countries would have just done what they wanted anyway. The international Atomic Energy Organisation or what it is would have done their inspections. Siemens would have sold medical machines. Countries would grow up as it were. But as cooperation is always better than confrontation it is nice the US have stayed in the agreement that was apparently 10 years in the making. It couldn't have gone on like that. With Europe needing gazillions to finance Greece, Ukraine, and millions of refugees (the next waves will roll on with the next spring and summer from April), Europe needs business desparately. Israel was happy to buy oil through Marc Rich under sanctions, now it's Europe's turn to snatch some business.

imipak -> BrianGriffin 11 Sep 2015 21:56

Iran lacks weapons-grade uranium and the means to produce it. Iran has made no efforts towards nuclear weapons technology for over a decade. Iran is a signatory of the NPT and is entitled to the rights enshrined therein. If Israel launches a nuclear war against Iran over Iran having a medical reactor (needed to produce isotopes for medicine, isotopes America can barely produce enough of for itself) that poses no security threat to anyone, then Israel will have transgressed so many international laws that if it survives the radioactive fallout (unlikely), it won't survive the political fallout.

It is a crime of the highest order to use weapons of mass destruction (although that didn't stop the Israelis using them against Palestinian civilians) and pre-emtive self-defence is why most believe Bush and Blair should be on trial at the ICJ, or (given the severity of their crimes) Nuremberg.

Israel's right to self-defense is questionable, I'm not sure any such right exists for anyone, but even allowing for it, Israel has no right to wage unprovoked war on another nation on the grounds of a potential threat discovered through divination using tea leaves.

imipak -> Jeremiah2000 11 Sep 2015 21:43

Iran's sponsorship of terrorism is of no concern. Such acts do not determine its competency to handle nuclear material at the 5% level (which you can find naturally). There are only three questions that matter - can Iran produce the 90-95% purity needed to build a bomb (no), can Iran produce such purity clandestinely (no), and can Iran use its nuclear technology to threaten Israel (no).

Israel also supports international terrorism, has used chemical weapons against civilians, has directly indulged in terrorism, actually has nuclear weapons and is paranoid enough that it may use them against other nations without cause.

I respect Israel's right to exist and the intelligence of most Israelis. But I neither respect nor tolerate unreasoned fear nor delusions of Godhood.

imipak -> commish 11 Sep 2015 21:33

I've seen Iranian statements playing internal politics, but I have never seen any actual Iranian threats. I've seen plenty about Israel assassinating people in other countries, using incendiaries and chemical weapons against civilians in other countries, conducting illegal kidnappings overseas, using terrorism as a weapon of war, developing nuclear weapons illegally, ethnically cleansing illegally occupied territories, that sort of thing.

Until such time as Israel implements the Oslo Accords, withdraws to its internationally recognized boundary and provides the International Court of Justice a full accounting of state-enacted and state-sponsored terrorism, it gets no claims on sainthood and gets no free rides.

Iran has its own crimes to answer, but directly threatening Israel in words or deeds has not been one of them within this past decade. Its actual crimes are substantial and cannot be ignored, but it is guilty only of those and not fictional works claimed by psychotic paranoid ultra-nationalists.

imipak -> moishe 11 Sep 2015 21:18

Domestic politics. Of no real consequence, it's just a way of controlling a populace through fear and a never-ending pseudo-war. It's how Iran actually feels that is important.

For the last decade, they've backed off any nuclear weapons research and you can't make a bomb with centrifuges that can only manage 20% enriched uranium. You need something like 90% enrichment, which requires centrifuges many, many times more advanced. It'd be hard to smuggle something like that in and the Iranians lack the skills, technology and science to make them.

Iran's conventional forces are busy fighting ISIS. What they do afterwards is a concern, but Israel has a sizable military presence on the Golan Heights. The most likely outcome is for Iran to install puppet regimes (or directly control) Syria and ISIS' caliphate.

I could see those two regions plus Iraq being fully absorbed into Iran, that would make some sense given the new geopolitical situation. But that would tie up Iran for decades. Which would not be a bad thing and America would be better off encouraging it rather than sabre-rattling.

(These are areas that contribute a lot to global warming and political instability elsewhere. Merging the lot and encouraging nuclear energy will do a lot for the planet. The inherent instability of large empires will reduce mischief-making elsewhere to more acceptable levels - they'll be too busy. It's idle hands that you need to be scared of.)

Israelis worry too much. If they spent less time fretting and more time developing, they'd be impervious to any natural or unnatural threat by now. Their teaching of Roman history needs work, but basically Israel has a combined intellect vastly superior to that of any nearby nation.

That matters. If you throw away fear and focus only on problems, you can stop and even defeat armies and empires vastly greater than your own. History is replete with examples, so is the mythologicized history of the Israeli people. Israel's fear is Israel's only threat.

mostfree 11 Sep 2015 21:10

Warmongers on all sides would had loved another round of fear and hysteria. Those dark military industrial complexes on all sides are dissipating in the face of the high rising light of peace for now . Please let it shine.

bishoppeter4 11 Sep 2015 20:09

The rabid Republicans working for a foreign power against the interest of the United States -- US citizens will know just what to do.

Jeremiah2000 -> Carolyn Walas Libbey 11 Sep 2015 19:21

"Netanyahu has no right to dictate what the US does."

But he has every right to point out how Obama is a weak fool. How's Obama's red line working in Syria? How is his toppling of Qadaffi in Libya working? How about his completely inept dealings with Egypt, throwing support behind the Muslim Brotherhood leaders? The leftists cheer Obama's weakening of American influence abroad. But they don't talk much about its replacement with Russian and Chinese influence. Russian build-up in Syria part of secret deal with Iran's Quds Force leader. Obama and Kerry are sending a strongly worded message.

Susan Dechancey -> whateverworks4u 11 Sep 2015 19:05

Incredible to see someone prefer war to diplomacy - guess you are an armchair General not a real one.

Susan Dechancey -> commish 11 Sep 2015 19:04

Except all its neighbours ... not only threatened but entered military conflict and stole land ... murdered Iranian Scientists but apart from that just a kitten

Susan Dechancey -> moishe 11 Sep 2015 19:00

Israel has nukes so why are they afraid ?? Iran will never use nukes against Israel and even Mossad told nuttyyahoo sabre rattling

Susan Dechancey 11 Sep 2015 18:57

Iran is not a made-up country like Iraq it is as old as Greece. If the Iraq war was sold as pushover and failed miserably then an Iran war would be unthinkable. War can be started in an instant diplomacy take time. UK, France, Germany & EU all agree its an acceptable alternative to war. So as these countries hardly ever agree it is clear the deal is a good one.

To be honest the USA can do what it likes now .. UK has set up an embassy - trade missions are landing Tehran from Europe. So if Israel and US congress want war - they will be alone and maybe if US keeps up the Nuttyahoo rhetoric European firms can win contracts to help us pay for the last US regime change Iraq / Isis / Refugees...

lswingly -> commish 11 Sep 2015 16:58

Rank and file Americans don't even know what the Iran deal is. And can't be bothered to actually find out. They just listen to sound bites from politicians the loudest of whom have been the wildly partisan republicans claiming that it gives Iran a green light to a nuclear weapon. Not to mention those "less safe" polls are completely loaded. Certain buzz words will always produce negative results. If you associate something positive "feeling safe" or "in favor of" anything that Iran signs off on it comes across as indirectly supporting Iran and skews the results of the poll. "Iran" has been so strongly associated with evil and negative all you have to do is insert it into a sentence to make people feel negatively about the entire sentence. In order to get true data on the deal you would have to poll people on the individual clauses the deal.

It's no different from how when you run a poll on who's in favor "Obamacare" the results will be majority negative. But if you poll on whether you are in favor of "The Affordable Care Act" most people are in favor of it and if you break it down and poll on the individual planks of "Obamacare" people overwhelming approve of the things that "Obamacare does". The disapproval is based on the fact that Republican's have successfully turned "Obamacare" into a pejorative and has almost no reflection of people feelings on actual policy.

To illustrate how meaningless those poll numbers are a Jewish poll (supposedly the people who have the most to lose if this deal is bad) found that a narrow majority of Jews approve of the deal. You're numbers are essentially meaningless.

The alternative to this plan is essentially war if not now, in the very near future, according to almost all non-partisan policy wonks. Go run a poll on whether we should go to war with Iran and see how that turns out. Last time we destabilized the region we removed a secular dictator who was enemies with Al Queda and created a power vacuum that led to increased religious extremism and the rise of Isis. You want to double down on that strategy?

MadManMark -> whateverworks4u 11 Sep 2015 16:34

You need to reread this article. It's exactly this attitude of yours (and AIPAC and Netanyahu) that this deal is not 100% perfect, but then subsequently failed to suggest ANY way to get something better -- other than war, which I'm sorry most people don't want another Republican "preemptive" war -- caused a lot people originally uncertain about this deal (like me) to conclude there may not be a better alternative. Again, read the article: What you think about me, I now think about deal critics like you ("It seems people will endorse anything to justify their political views.)

USfan 11 Sep 2015 15:34

American Jews are facing one of the most interesting choices of recent US history. The Republican Party, which is pissing into a stiff wind of unfavorable demographics, seems to have decided it can even the playing field by peeling Jews away from the Democrats with promises to do whatever Israel wants. So we have the very strange (but quite real) prospect of Jews increasingly throwing in their lot with the party of Christian extremists whose ranks also include violent antiSemites.

Interesting times. We'll see how this plays out. My family is Jewish and I have not been shy in telling them that alliances with the GOP for short-term gains for Israel is not a wise policy. The GOP establishment are not antiSemtic but the base often is, and if Trump's candidacy shows anything it's that the base is in control of the Republicans.

But we'll see.

niyiakinlabu 11 Sep 2015 15:29

Central question: how come nobody talks about Israel's nukes?

hello1678 -> BrianGriffin 11 Sep 2015 14:02

Iran will not accept being forced into dependence on outside powers. We may dislike their government but they have as much right as anyone else to enrich their own fuel.

JackHep 11 Sep 2015 13:30

Netanyahu is an example of all that is bad about the Israeli political, hence military industrial, establishment. Why Cameron's government allowed him on British soil is beyond belief. Surely the PM's treatment of other "hate preachers" would not have been lost on Netanyahu? Sadly our PM seems to miss the point with Israel.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/10692563/David-Cameron-tells-Israelis-about-his-Jewish-ancestors.html

talenttruth 11 Sep 2015 13:12

The American Warmonger Establishment (that now fully entrenched "Military Industrial Complex" against which no more keen observer than President Dwight Eisenhower warned us), is rip-shit over the Iran Agreement. WHAT? We can't Do More War? That will be terrible for further increasing our obscene 1-percent wealth. Let's side with Israeli wingnut Netanyahu, who cynically leverages "an eye for an eye for an eye for an eye" to hold his "Power."

And let's be treasonous against the United States by trying to undermine U.S. Foreign Policy FOR OUR OWN PROFIT. We are LONG overdue for serious jail time for these sociopaths, who already have our country "brainwashed" into 53% of our budget going to the War Profiteers and to pretending to be a 19th century Neo-Colonial Power -- in an Endless State of Eternal War. These people are INSANE. Time to simply say so.

Boredwiththeusa 11 Sep 2015 12:58

At the rally to end the Iran deal in the Capitol on Wednesday, one of the AIPAC worshipping attendees had this to say to Jim Newell of Slate:

""Obama is a black, Jew-hating, jihadist putting America and Israel and the rest of the planet in grave danger," said Bob Kunst of Miami. Kunst-pairing a Hillary Clinton rubber mask with a blue T-shirt reading "INFIDEL"-was holding one sign that accused Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry of "Fulfilling Hitler's Dreams" and another that queried, "DIDN'T WE LEARN ANYTHING FROM 1938?"

His only reassurance was that, when Iran launches its attack on the mainland, it'll be stopped quickly by America's heavily armed citizenry."

That is indicative of the mindset of those opposed to the agreement.

Boredwiththeusa 11 Sep 2015 12:47

AIPAC is a dangerous anti-american organization, and a real and extant threat to the sovereignty of the U.S. Any elected official acting in concert with AIPAC is colluding with a foreign government to harm the U.S. and should be considered treasonous and an enemy of the American people.

tunejunky 11 Sep 2015 12:47

AIPAC, its constituent republicans, and the government of Israel all made the same mistake in a common episode of hubris. by not understanding the American public, war, and without the deference shown from a proxy to its hegemon, Israel's right wing has flown the Israeli cause into a wall. not understanding the fact in international affairs that to disrespect an American president is to disrespect Americans, the Israeli government acted as a spoiled first-born - while to American eyes it was a greedy, ungrateful ward foisted upon barely willing hands. it presumed far too much and is receiving the much deserved rebuke.

impartial12 11 Sep 2015 12:37

This deal is the best thing that happened in the region in a while. We tried war and death. It didn't work out. Why not try this?

[Dec 04, 2017] End of cheap oil will probably bring more wars as nations will try to get to remaning reserves

Notable quotes:
"... The fact is that the rise of the West to global dominance is due to a historical anomaly. It was fuelled (literally) by the discovery and harnessing of the chemical energy embedded in coal (late 18thC) and then oil (late 19thC). The first doubled the population, and as first movers gave the West a running start. The second turned on the afterburners, and population grew >3.5 fold. Again the West led the way. To fuel that ahistorical step-function growth curve, control of resources on a global scale became its civilizational imperative. ..."
Dec 04, 2017 | www.unz.com

@Vidi

From Patrick Armstrong's article (a good one, by the way):
A Russian threat is good for business: there's poor money in a threat made of IEDs, bomb vests and small arms. Big profits require big threats.
Actually, I'd say the Russian threat is necessary to keep the Europeans too frightened to protest while the U.S. steals wealth from them. After all, when the U.S. imports goods and "pays" for them with printed money, it is basically stealing those goods. The U.S. is draining a lot of wealth from Europe (like $150 billion a year), so something must be done to keep them docile. Russia's perfect for that.
@Erebus

"(Failed) West and a multipolar Rest". The latter is what I think will actually happen in the near and medium term.

I think we already have it, except I don't think West has failed yet. Or it has in a way, the process of failing goes on, but the consequences have not been felt much in the West yet.

Well, exogenous events aside, "decline and fall" is necessarily a process. A series of steps and plateaus is typical. A major step occurred in 2007/8, when the money failed. The bankers, in a frankly heroic display of coordination, propped up the $$$ and the West got a decade long plateau. Things are going wobbly again, financially speaking and I suspect the next step function to occur rather soon. Stays of execution have been exhausted, so it'll be interesting how the West handles it, and how the RoW reacts.
Europeans have been invited to join the Eurasian Project, to create a continental market from "Lisbon to Vladivostok". Latent dreams of Hegemony hold at least some of their elites back. The USA has also been invited, but its dreams remain much more virile. That is, until Trump who's backers seem to read the writing on the wall better than the Straussians.
I don't see any other power than the West (=US) aspiring to 'manage the world'....
The other 'powers' have very modest, regional aspirations... US seems to be obsessed with it.
The fact is that the rise of the West to global dominance is due to a historical anomaly. It was fuelled (literally) by the discovery and harnessing of the chemical energy embedded in coal (late 18thC) and then oil (late 19thC). The first doubled the population, and as first movers gave the West a running start. The second turned on the afterburners, and population grew >3.5 fold. Again the West led the way. To fuel that ahistorical step-function growth curve, control of resources on a global scale became its civilizational imperative.

That growth curve has plateaued, and the rest of the world has caught/is catching up developmentally. The resources the West needs aren't going to be available to it in the way they were 100 years ago. Them days is over, for everybody really, but especially for the West because it has depleted its own hi-ROI resources, and both of its means of control (IMF$ System & U$M) of what's left of everybody else's are failing simultaneously. So its plateau will not be flat, or not flat for long between increasingly violent steps.

The West rode an ahistorical rogue wave of development to a point just short of Global Hegemony. That wave broke, and is now rolling back out into the world leaving the West just short of its civilizational resource requirements. No way to get back on a broken wave. In any case, China now holds the $$$ hammer, and Russia holds the military hammer, and they've now got the surfboard. Both of them, led by historically aware elites, know that Hegemony doesn't work, so will focus on keeping their neck of the woods as stable & prosperous as possible while hell blazes elsewhere.


What is really going on is that West has over-reached and can barely handle its own problems.
IMHO, what's really going on is that the West's problems are simply symptomatic of what "decline and fall", if not "collapse" looks like from within a failing system. A long time ago I read the diary of a Roman nobleman who in the most matter-of-fact style wrote of exactly the same things Westerners complain about today. How this, that or the other thing no longer works the way it did. For all of his 60+ years, every day was infinitesimally worse than the day before, until finally he decides to pack up his Roman households and move to his estates in Spain. It took 170(iirc) more years of continuous decline until Alaric finally arrived at the Gates of Rome. If wholly due to internal causes, collapse is almost always a slow motion train wreck.
...

'there would be a vacuum' and 'Russians would move in'. This is obvious nonsense and only elderly paranoid Cold Warrior types believe it (peterAUS?).
Actually, it's just stupid. Cold Warrior or not, the view betrays a deep and abiding ignorance of both history and a large part of what drove the West's hegemonic successes. That both militate against anyone else ever even trying such a thing on a global scale can't be seen if you look at historical developments and the rest of the world through 10' of 1" pipe.

The idea that Russia wants/needs the Baltics is even more laughable than that it wants/needs the Ukraine or Poland. None of these tarbabies have anything to offer but trouble. Noisome flies on an elephant, it is only if they make themselves more troublesome as outsiders than they would be as vassals would Russia move.

[Dec 03, 2017] Carrying Capacity, Overshoot and Species Extinction by Ron Patterson

Notable quotes:
"... Carrying Capacity : Carrying capacity is a well-known ecological term that has an obvious and fairly intuitive meaning: "the maximum population size of a species that the environment can sustain indefinitely, given the food, habitat, water and other necessities available in the environment". Unfortunately, that definition becomes more nebulous the closer you look at it – especially when we start talking about the planetary carrying capacity for humans. Ecologists claim that our numbers have already surpassed the carrying capacity of the planet, while others (notably economists and politicians ) claim we are nowhere near it yet! ..."
"... Overshoot : When a population surpasses its carrying capacity it enters a condition known as overshoot. Because carrying capacity is defined as the maximum population that an environment can maintain indefinitely, overshoot must by definition be temporary. Populations ..."
"... to (or below) the carrying capacity. How long they stay in overshoot depends on how many stored resources there are to support their inflated numbers. Resources may be food, but they may also be any resource that helps maintain their numbers. For ..."
"... one of the primary resources is energy, whether it is tapped as flows (sunlight, wind, biomass) or stocks (coal, oil, gas, uranium etc.). A species usually enters overshoot when it taps a particularly rich but exhaustible stock of a resource. Like oil, for instance ..."
"... The zoomass of wild vertebrates is now vanishingly small compared to the biomass of domestic animals. In 1900 there were some 1.6 billion large domesticated animals, including about 450 million head of cattle and water buffalo (HYDE 2011); a century later the count of large domestic animals had surpassed 4.3 billion, including 1.65 billion head of cattle and water buffalo and 900 million pigs (FAO 2011). Calculations using these head counts and average body weights (they have increased everywhere since 1900, but the differences between larger body masses in North America and Europe and lower weights elsewhere persist) yield estimates of at least 35 Mt C of domesticated zoomass in 1900 (more than three times the total of all wild land mammals) and at least 120 Mt C in the year 2000, a 3.5-fold increase in 100 years (and 25 times the total of wild mammalian zoomass). And cattle zoomass alone is now at least 250 times greater than the zoomass of all surviving African elephants, which in turn is less than 2 percent of the zoomass of Africa's nearly 300 million bovines (Table 2). ..."
"... Carrying Capacity, Overshoot and Species Extinction ..."
"... let go/ get out ..."
"... until which time as I say otherwise ..."
"... until which time as I or you opt out ..."
Dec 03, 2017 | peakoilbarrel.com

11/29/2017 Notice: Please limit your comments below to the subject matter of this post only. There is a petroleum post above this one for all petroleum and natural gas posts and a non-petroleum post below this one for comments on all other matters.

First, let us define carrying capacity and overshoot. And none has done that better than Paul Chefurka .

Carrying Capacity : Carrying capacity is a well-known ecological term that has an obvious and fairly intuitive meaning: "the maximum population size of a species that the environment can sustain indefinitely, given the food, habitat, water and other necessities available in the environment". Unfortunately, that definition becomes more nebulous the closer you look at it – especially when we start talking about the planetary carrying capacity for humans. Ecologists claim that our numbers have already surpassed the carrying capacity of the planet, while others (notably economists and politicians ) claim we are nowhere near it yet!

Overshoot : When a population surpasses its carrying capacity it enters a condition known as overshoot. Because carrying capacity is defined as the maximum population that an environment can maintain indefinitely, overshoot must by definition be temporary. Populations always decline to (or below) the carrying capacity. How long they stay in overshoot depends on how many stored resources there are to support their inflated numbers. Resources may be food, but they may also be any resource that helps maintain their numbers. For humans one of the primary resources is energy, whether it is tapped as flows (sunlight, wind, biomass) or stocks (coal, oil, gas, uranium etc.). A species usually enters overshoot when it taps a particularly rich but exhaustible stock of a resource. Like oil, for instance

When we talk about carrying capacity we need to define exactly who or what we are carrying. Are we talking about humans, all animals or what? Well, let's just talk about terrestrial vertebrate biomass.

Okay, Vaclav Smil and Paul Chefurka (and the estimates of most earth biologists) are correct, the long-term carrying capacity of terrestrial vertebrate biomass is a little over 200,000,000 tons. But how do we know that amount is correct? Easily, because that is what it was for millions of years before the advent of agriculture and other things brought about by modern day Homo sapiens.

Plant and animal species all struggle to survive. In doing so they have evolved to fill every available niche on earth. If a plant can grow in an area, any area, it will do so. If an animal can find a habitat in any area on earth, it will do so. At least since the mid-Triassic, about 225 million years ago, plants and animals have occupied every available niche on earth. If any animal overshot its habitat, dieoff would soon correct that situation. So for many millions of years, the terrestrial vertebrate biomass remained at about two hundred million tons, give or take. I say that because climate change, sea levels rising and falling, continental drift would cause the long-term carrying capacity to wax or wane. Also, the estimate is just that, an estimate. It could be slightly higher or lower. But the long-term carrying capacity of the earth always remained at one hundred percent of what it was possible to carry.

Then about 10,000 years ago man invented agriculture. At first, this only enabled a slight increase in population. Soon only plants that produced the most grain, fruit or tuber per plant, or per area of ground, was selected for replanting. Genetic engineering goes back thousands of years.

Then they discovered fertilizer. Animal and human waste could greatly increase plant production. Animals were domesticated and the plow was invented. More food per area of ground could be produced. Then chemical fertilizers were invented and the population floodgates were opened. At first phosphates from bird guano dramatically increased agricultural production but around the middle of the last century nitrate fertilizers from the Haber Bosch process enabled the green revolution and enabled the population to expand three fold.

It's mostly cows, then humans, then pigs then chickens then Interesting that the biomass of chickens is ovwe three times that of all the wild animals combined. If this chart does not shock you then you are totally unable to be shocked by anything concerning the earth's biosphere.

The world population is still expanding at an alarming rate. By 1989 the population was expanding by about 88 million people per year. Then by the year 2000 population growth had slowed to about 77 million per year. Then the slowdown stopped and started to increase again. it stands at about 79 million per year according to the US Census Bureau.

Now they are saying it will start to slow. But that slowdown has not yet started. True, the fertility rate has been dropping but that has been offset by the increase in population. The fertility rate is dropping but on more and more people.

Notice the U.S. Census Bureau starts the slowdown at almost the exact date this chart was drawn, August 2017. If they had drawn this chart in 1995, then no doubt they would have started their prediction of constant decline in 1995.

But I have no doubt that the population will start to decline. It must, it must because we are destroying the ability of the planet to feed all its people.

Paul Chefurka created the above graph in May 2011. I think he was a little off. He has the world population hitting almost 8 billion then starting to drop around 2030.

I am more inclined to agree with the U.S. Census Bureau who thinks the world population will hit 9.4 billion around 2050. Then I believe the population will start to fall. The rate of population decline and how far it will fall is hard to predict. That will depend on many things but primarily on if and when globalization collapses. The collapse of globalization will bring about civil strife, border wars, and famine around the world.

I want to call your attention to the green, wild animal, portion of the second graph at the top of this post. Notice the wild animal portion of the terrestrial vertebrate biomass, by 1900, had dropped to about 20% of its historical value. Then by 2000, it had dropped to half that amount. Then by 2050, we expect that 2000 value to be cut in half again.

By 2100, it will very likely all be gone. Well, almost all gone. There will still be plenty of rats and mice and perhaps a few other small vertebrates will still survive, but all the large megafauna, except humans, will be gone. Gone forever or at least for the next million years or so. It will take that long for new megafauna to evolve after the human population has been greatly reduced to a billion or even a few million people.

But the far distant future is of little concern to us now. The sad fact of the matter is your descendants will live in a world completely free of wild megafauna. There is no way to avoid that fact now, it is already too late to stop the destruction.

WHY?

Yes, why? Why are we destroying the earth's ecosystem? Why are we driving most all wild animals into extinction? Why have we dramatically overpopulated the planet with human beings? Why did all this happen? However, when you ask why, you are implying that all this had a cause, that someone or some group of people are to blame for this damn mess we have gotten ourselves into.

Was it the early farmers who invented agriculture. Or was it the early industrialists like James Watt or Thomas Edison? Or was it Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch, are they the villains that got us into such a damn mess? No, it was none of these people. It was no one person or no group of people. It was not even any revolution like the industrial revolution, the medical revolution or the green revolution. There is no one to blame and there is nothing to blame.

Agriculture enabled the very small early population to expand. The industrial revolution and later the green revolution enabled more people to be fed. The medical revolution enabled more babies to survive and people to live much longer. Our population has exploded simply because it could. We have always lived to the limit of our existence and we always will. It was just human nature pure and simple.

Now many will say that we are now controlling our population, that we have learned how to limit our fertility rate. Well, yes and no. Reference the below chart and table that were produced by the Population Reference Bureau in 2012.

In the developed world, where most of the world's energy is consumed, we almost have zero population growth. But in the less developed world, the population is still growing.

Here is the perfect example of what is happening, what is still happening , in much of the world. Notice the difference in the infant mortality rate and the annual infant deaths. Most of the world's people are still living at the very limit of their existence.

<sarc>But not to worry. The death rate is rising, babies are dying, the population will soon start to fall in the undeveloped world. </sarc>

Note: The Paul Chefurka graphs in this post were created, primarily, with data from the research of Vaclav Smil and is published in this 24 page PDF file: Harvesting the Biosphere: The Human Impact . The file includes over 2 pages of notes and 4 pages of references where Smil sources and documents every stat he quotes. Below are a table and some text from the paper.

The zoomass of wild vertebrates is now vanishingly small compared to the biomass of domestic animals. In 1900 there were some 1.6 billion large domesticated animals, including about 450 million head of cattle and water buffalo (HYDE 2011); a century later the count of large domestic animals had surpassed 4.3 billion, including 1.65 billion head of cattle and water buffalo and 900 million pigs (FAO 2011). Calculations using these head counts and average body weights (they have increased everywhere since 1900, but the differences between larger body masses in North America and Europe and lower weights elsewhere persist) yield estimates of at least 35 Mt C of domesticated zoomass in 1900 (more than three times the total of all wild land mammals) and at least 120 Mt C in the year 2000, a 3.5-fold increase in 100 years (and 25 times the total of wild mammalian zoomass). And cattle zoomass alone is now at least 250 times greater than the zoomass of all surviving African elephants, which in turn is less than 2 percent of the zoomass of Africa's nearly 300 million bovines (Table 2).

Please comment below but only on the subject matter of this post.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged Megafauna Extinction , Overpopulation , Overshoot , Peak Oil , Population Explosion , Species Extinction . Bookmark the permalink .

295 Responses to Carrying Capacity, Overshoot and Species Extinction

George Kaplan says: 11/29/2017 at 8:23 am

Great summary. Mainly so I don't have to think about all the depressing aspects: do you not think if humans disappeared but even a few of our larger domesticated animals survived that evolution could go bonkers and we'd have new familes and species springing up all over in far less than a million years. After all homo sapiens are only a few hundred thousand years, and dogs (admittedly still technically wolves) only a few thousand. It would depend a bit whether we left much of the planet that was actually habitable of course – i.e. there'd need to be plenty of evolution pressure, but not too much. I guess your point would be we'd get new species but not the mega fauna, but I think there's evidence that isolated small islands can lead to either pygmy species or giants depending on the exact environment.
Ron Patterson says: 11/29/2017 at 9:28 am
George, I would have to start by saying that humans are not going to disappear. Other than extinction via natural disaster, like a giant meteorite hitting the earth, species are driven into extinction. That is they are outcompeted for territory and resources. Humans are the drivers of extinction, no species will drive us into extinction. We occupy every habitable niche on earth and will likely continue to do so even after our numbers have been dramatically reduced.

If we have a collapse of globalization, and I believe that is inevitable and will happen within the next one hundred years, then the human population will be devastated by civil strife, border wars, and famine. Seven to nine billion hungry people will be a disaster for all other animal life, domestic as well as wild. So I do not believe there will be enough domestic animal life to kick-start evolution of new wild species of megafauna. As I have said before, we will eat the songbirds out of the trees. So there sure as hell will not be any cows left.

Okay, so perhaps it will not take a million years for other large megafauna to evolve. Perhaps it will only be in the hundreds of thousands of years.

The Cunning Linguist says: 11/29/2017 at 10:18 am
So, after we eat the songbirds from the trees, what the hell will we eat then?

Is it not possible that the human species will drive itself to extinction because we are so successful at destroying the natural environment which we depend upon for our survival?

After industrial civilization collapses, the great human die-off will rapidly reduce human numbers by more than 90%. Life for the remaining humans will be extraordinarily hard. If the overall stress level is high enough, it will be very difficult for humans to raise enough offspring to reproductive age to maintain the species over time. Biologists call this pre-extinction phase die out. Once a species numbers fall below replacement level, they go extinct.

And what the hell do you mean: "If we have a collapse of globalization, and I believe that is inevitable and will happen within the next one hundred years "? Within the next 100 years? You are dreaming! We are in the early stages of apocalypse right now! Rapid die-off will begin within the next few years. 100 years from now, there will be no one alive who will remember it.

Ghung says: 11/29/2017 at 10:44 am
Cunning said; "After industrial civilization collapses, the great human die-off will rapidly reduce human numbers by more than 90%." ..

..while what is left of nature will rapidly move into the niches vacated by species humans have wiped out. If (big if, maybe) there are remaining reproductively viable human populations, they will exploit those recovering niches at rates which will be far below the astounding rates of exploitation during the industrial age. Where humans have abandoned their schemes of destroying the natural world for their own purposes, nature, in some form, recovers quite quickly.

On the other hand, if global warming goes off the scale (ala Guy McPherson, et al), all bets are off. Everything larger than a shrew will be toast.

Ron Patterson says: 11/29/2017 at 10:59 am
Once a species numbers fall below replacement level, they go extinct.

The replacement level for animals in the wild and the replacement level for domestic animals are two different things entirely. For animals in the wild, the replacement level may be several hundred to several thousand. Animals in the wild have to find each other in order to reproduce. For domestic animals, the replacement level is two.

In this regard, we Homo sapiens are far more like domestic animals than wild animals. An example would be the Polynesians who migrated to distant islands in sailing outrigger canoes. Their numbers, in those canoes, likely numbered only a dozen or so. Yet huge numbers eventually sprang from tiny numbers.

Yes, stress during periods of great strife and famine will be great. Stress will likely take a great toll. But there will always be survivors. Everyone is not equally affected by stress. Some can overcome, some cannot. It is a little like a plague or disease. There are always some who are immune or otherwise escape the problem.

As for rapid die-off coming within a few years, yes that may happen but I doubt it. Humans societies are far more resilient than you might expect. For instance, look at Somalia, or Venezuela. Somalia, a failed state, has been in turmoil for decades yet no massive die-off has occurred. Venezuela is in a state of almost total anarchy, yet no massive die-off as of yet.

I believe the die-off will start within the next hundred years. Next week is within the next hundred years. But I doubt it will happen by then, or even within the next few years or so. In my opinion, it will take several decades for things to really fall apart.

The Cunning Linguist says: 11/29/2017 at 12:01 pm
Ron,

You said:
"But I doubt it will happen by then, or even within the next few years or so. In my opinion, it will take several decades for things to really fall apart."

What about Limits to Growth? That study forecast that real problems would begin in the first or second decade of the 21st century, in other words, now. Why is Limits to Growth wrong? How do we avoid sudden, catastrophic collapse once world economic growth comes to an end?

What about the fragile, debt ridden financial/credit/monetary system? Have you read the Korowicz paper? How will industrial civilization gradually unwind over many decades when the world economy freezes very suddenly and food stops arriving at the grocery stores? That should lead to a very rapid die-off as every city suddenly becomes uninhabitable.

Ron Patterson says: 11/29/2017 at 12:27 pm
What about Limits to Growth? That study forecast that real problems would begin in the first or second decade of the 21st century, in other words, now. Why is Limits to Growth wrong?

Hey, I have a copy of Limits to Growth right here in my hand. On what page do they predict catastrophic collapse before 2050. Help me out here but I just can't seem to find it.

As to real problems, hell yes, we are having real problems right now. We have been having real problems in Venezuela and a lot of other places. But there is a tremendous difference between real problems and catastrophic collapse.

And what about all the other terrible things you are say are happening right now. Hell yes, they are happening and they are terrible. But they have not yet led to catastrophic collapse. But it is very likely they will lead to collapse in three or four decades from now.

Ghung says: 11/29/2017 at 12:37 pm
The LTG graphs appear to show economic and industrial peaks @2025-2030, if not sooner, dropping off quickly.

https://i.guim.co.uk/img/static/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2014/9/1/1409550981593/cc68cfc8-072c-4e53-a741-b28c3d6bcea3-573×1020.jpeg?w=620&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&fit=max&s=1ec7d319d599211c6d4adb5d287cced8

Ron Patterson says: 11/29/2017 at 12:59 pm
Ghung, what page is this on?
Ghung says: 11/29/2017 at 1:17 pm
It's actually from a Guardian article, taken from Bardi's "The Limits to Growth Revisited". I don't know what page the original graph was on, but I have a copy of the original 1972 graph which shows the same curves, without the more recent data curves.

Guardian article "Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we're nearing collapse" :

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/02/limits-to-growth-was-right-new-research-shows-were-nearing-collapse

George Kaplan says: 11/29/2017 at 1:17 pm
Ron – that graph is from the Graham Turner LtG update: http://sustainable.unimelb.edu.au/sites/default/files/docs/MSSI-ResearchPaper-4_Turner_2014.pdf
Ron Patterson says: 11/29/2017 at 1:32 pm
Shit? Is this real? I had no idea that we might be this close to collapse.

Nevertheless, I just can't believe we are that close. I think it will be at least 20 to 30 years from now.

George Kaplan says: 11/29/2017 at 1:43 pm
It depends on what you call collapse. The UK and USA are both following the curve such that life expectancy is starting to decline. I think industrial productivity might be going the same way in UK, and definitely our health and old age care systems (which is one of the measures he uses for "services") are in decline (though the government always finds a way to massage the numbers so far). One of the authors of LtG has said that once one of the main curves is definitely through an extrema then the models probably don't work any more – which I took to mean possible accelerating chaos, but might mean something else.
Hightrekker says: 11/29/2017 at 7:37 pm
Shit? Is this real? I had no idea that we might be this close to collapse.

Yep -- -
Population overshoot, ecocide, environmental destruction, deforestation, ocean acidification, mass loss of pollinators–
I could go on --

It doesn't take a weather man to tell which way the wind blows.

Alice Friedemann says: 11/29/2017 at 8:02 pm
This a unique, one-time only collapse because we never relied on fossil fuels in the past, and we certainly won't in the future. If you look at energyskeptic/3) Fast Crash, you'll see the many reasons I think collapse will unfold quickly. Turchin, who has looked at the patterns of collapse in civilizations going back to Mesopotamia, says it takes about 20 years on average. That is in line with Hook's estimate of a 6% exponential decline, which is the rate at which the 500 giant oil fields decline on average after peaking (something like 270 of them last I checked), all others (offshore, shale, smaller, and so on) decline much faster, hence Hooks estimate of an exponential increase of .0015 a year as non-giants increasingly contribute to what's left of production (giants are now 60% of world oil production). If Hook (2009) is right, that means we'll be down to 10% of what we produce after global peak production in 16 years. At that point, even if governments are rationing oil wisely to grow and distribute food, you're reaching the breaking point. Oil makes all other resources possible, so although many resources reaching their limits, the decline of oil will be the true beginning of the end. No more pumping water from the Ogallala 1,000 feet down, going 10,000 miles on factory farm fishing boats, and so on. Oil is masking how incredibly far we are over overshoot. Above all, 99% of the supply chain transport – trucks, rail, ships – depends on oil. 80% of communities in the U.S. depend entirely on oil, by far the least efficient mode of transportation of the three. Well, it is too big a topic to cover in a comment. I have a lot more to say in my book "When Trucks Stop Running".

Oh, and when I heard Dennis Meadows speak at the 2006 Pisa Italy ASPO conference, he said that if anything Limits to growth was head of schedule, with collapse starting as early as 2020. We'll see, too many factors. Also in the past, nations avoided collapse way past their carrying capacity by trading or conquering other nations, like the Roman Empire, which had to import food from Carthage and Egypt, no way to grow enough food in Italy.

Hook, M., Hirsch, R., Aleklett, K. June 2009. Giant oil field decline rates and their influence on world oil production. Energy Policy 37(6): 2262-2272
https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:225443/FULLTEXT01.pdf

OFM says: 11/30/2017 at 7:14 am
Hi Alice,

I'm hoping to see more comments from you in the future, and not just in this one thread, lol.

It's very common for experts in any given field to presume there are none in other fields that are capable of solving the problems they see as civilization killers.

There are no guarantees of success, but success is possible when it comes to finding and implementing solutions to problems such as the eventual depletion of oil.

Once the shit starts hitting the fan pretty hard and fast in terms of declining oil supplies, both good and bad things will happen on a scale that will take the breath away.

The bad will unquestionably include economic collapse across large swathes of some and maybe most societies.

The good will come in the form of action on the part of awakened LEVIATHAN, the nation state. Those of us who cannot see that once LEVIATHAN stirs and focuses on such problems as we FORCED to deal with soon have little understanding of history , human nature, and technology.

Now WHETHER , or NOT, Leviathan, Uncle Sam, John BULL, the Russian BEAR, et al, can do enough to keep the wheels on and turning, instead of falling off, is an open question.

I believe they can, depending on how far gone things are once they begin to come to grips with the various troubles that will threaten their existence.

People CAN AND DO come together, and work together, sometimes. Consider the case of the USA. We were mostly all isolationists the day before Pearl Harbor, but within a couple of days after, we were all ready to to go flat out to murder our enemies on the grand scale, and DID.

Neither I nor anybody else can prove either way whether we WILL work together well enough to prevent outright collapse meaning we die hard deaths by the tens of millions even here in a country such as the USA.

There's no question that we CAN work together, once we realize we must. Whether we get started soon enough is probably going to determine just how bad things will get in economic terms.

But between what scientists and engineers can do for us, by way of providing us with better tools, and what we can collectively do for ourselves by way of collective action, there's a real possibility that some countries will pull thru ok, no longer sleek and lazy and fat and wasteful, but at least still functional, and with most of their populations still alive and leading a reasonably dignified life style.

I will have more to say about what Leviathan awakened, scared and enraged can do later on, way down thread someplace within the next few days, by relating some historical examples.

Survivalist says: 12/02/2017 at 8:22 pm
I too feel that one day the trucks will stop running. It will be a very interesting transition to observe. I imagine it will have a progression that goes something like this:
-trucks running will increase in cost as will the things that they are running about with inside them.
– trucks will run to less and less places.
-trucks will run to less and less places less frequently.
-trucks will run only very rarely and only for high priority reasons.
-trucks will stop running altogether.

As this process takes place I imagine there will be measures taken to fill some of the void, where and when it is possible to do so.

George Kaplan says: 11/29/2017 at 12:57 pm
Ron – do you think humans will still be around in a million years or even a hundred thousand? If they are I think it will only be because they have made themselves irrelevant to the environment (i.e. small in numbers and having found a way to live sustainably) and other species will be evolving without too much human involvement.
Ron Patterson says: 11/29/2017 at 1:59 pm
Yes, George, I think humans will be around in a million years. Not nearly as many as are around today however. If I had to guess, and I do have to guess, then I would guess around 10 to 15 million humans would be around a million years from now. That would be one person alive then for every 500 alive today.

Of course, all fossil fuel would be gone and everyone would live off the land.

But if you doubt human survival, then just what do you think will wipe everyone out? What will bring the human population to zero?

George Kaplan says: 11/29/2017 at 2:26 pm
That sounds as good a guess as any. Part of my point was that they could only survive if they were not intrusive, and therefore would not be an impediment to evolution of other mega fauna. I think average species life time is estimated at around 1 to 2 million years, homo is a family rather than a species so the sapiens could go and something else come along, like we took out the Neanderthals. On the other hand if the bottlenecks get small enough in different locations we could just be whittled away by different causes.
Ron Patterson says: 11/29/2017 at 2:52 pm
I think average species life time is estimated at around 1 to 2 million years,

The point is George, Homo sapiens is not an average species. If we were an average species we would still be competing with other species for food and territory, losing some of those battles and winning others. But our numbers would be kept in check by our success and failure of that struggle, just like every other average species.

Our dominance has overwhelmed all other species. Like a plague, we are killing them all off. There is nothing average about us as a species.

George Kaplan says: 11/29/2017 at 2:59 pm
Ok, but our numbers were kept in check and we were competing like that for almost all of our history, until the Holocene interglacial came along and we decided agriculture was a good idea, or maybe we had a go before and it never took in a less stable climate. But before that there is evidence of some pretty tight bottlenecks when we were almost gone either locally (e.g. in India) or globally. And things like the Roman empire collapse suggest we can forget any kind of technological advantages in a couple of generations.
Ron Patterson says: 11/29/2017 at 3:11 pm
You lost me. I don't understand your point.

But since our brains to a degree where we could create stone tools and use fire, our population has been on a slow increase, bottlenecks notwithstanding.

What has made us not average is our brains, our mental ability. That is the one thing that has given us a huge advantage over all other species.

We are smart enough to wrestle all the world from every other species that stood in our way. If another species had something that we wanted, including even their flesh, we got it. We are smart enough to dominate the world, but not smart enough to see that we are destroying it.

George Kaplan says: 11/30/2017 at 11:23 am
My point is that unless we find a niche in which we can exist sustainably despite our intelligence and ability to get whatever we want and dominate the world, then we won't survive very long, and may not even then.
Dennis Coyne says: 11/30/2017 at 12:31 pm
Hi Ron,

I think some (you for example) are smart enough to see that we are destroying our World.

It may not be a majority view, though I think the numbers are increasing.

I would agree that we so far have not demonstrated that we are smart enough to change what we are doing (reduce the rate that we destroy the planet as rapidly as possible to zero (or negative, by which I mean restore the planet closer to a natural or sustainable state).

This may never be accomplished, but we cam move in that direction while reducing our numbers and our impact.

Des Carne says: 11/30/2017 at 1:02 pm
What it is about our brains that makes us not average is our capacity to deny reality. The mind over reality transition (Varki &Brower) is arguably what gave "sapiens" the advantage, successful but apparently impossible risk taking, to do away with neanderthalensis. In small scale hunter bands surrounded by magafaunal predators, denial of reality is a decided advantage, but in mass societies with the capacity to produce mass belief in non-realityy, it is the disadvantage that could do us in. Although not experimentally demonstrable, the idea that this mind over reality transition was an evolutionary event in the hominid genus 100-200 thousand years ago is a plausible explanation for sapiens' dramatic cortical development and the development or consolidation of female sexual selection, not present in our forebears or current great apes.

In a future world scratching a living as we did for most of our history as hunter-gatherer bands, but from a depleted world absent of any predators, we might evolve the ability to believe reality, without sacrificing cortical development. The first inhabitants of my country (Australia) managed to get by fot 60,000 years by killing off the megafauna. They were helped by climate change which dessicated the continent, but hung in there making it an extremely attractive aquisition by my ancestors when they came along.

OFM says: 11/30/2017 at 7:26 am
Hi Ron,

In broad terms, I agree with what you are saying here.

"Our dominance has overwhelmed all other species. Like a plague, we are killing them all off. There is nothing average about us as a species."

But we aren't doing any better than rats or fire ants, lol.

You're dead on about humanity not being an average species. We will be around at least until some other species capable of wiping us out evolves, and it's unlikely that we will ALLOW such a species to exist, unless it's a microbe and we can't wipe it out.

If chimps were to evolve just a little further along the lines of using tools and being able to communicate and work together, and started attacking humans, numerous humans armed only with primitive weapons such as fire and bows and arrows would kill every last chimp, and they wouldn't lose any time in doing so.

This brings up an interesting question. We know chimps use stone tools as hammers to break nuts, etc, , and that they fight ORGANIZED fights to the death sometimes.

Is there any evidence they are using stones as weapons . YET?

Ron Patterson says: 11/30/2017 at 7:38 am
No, chimps do not use stones as weapons but they do use sticks to flail another chimp with.

Chimps will not evolve much further if any. Their numbers are dropping like a rock. They will all be gone in 20 or 30 years.

Survivalist says: 12/02/2017 at 8:27 pm
I once heard an interesting story about chimps. Might have been in one of Pinker's books, I can't recall.

If you hang a bunch of bananas from the ceiling that a chimp cannot reach and you leave an A-frame ladder laying on the ground the chimp will set the ladder upright and get the bananas.
If you do the same thing with 2 chimps and a ladder so heavy that one chimp alone cannot set it upright, but 2 chimps working together could set it upright, they'll never get on the same page, so to speak, and cooperate in setting up the ladder. They will both try individually and fail. The bananas will never be reached.

Dennis Coyne says: 11/30/2017 at 12:46 pm
Hi Ron,

The charts in your post suggest about 1 billion might work, I would say 500 million would be my guess, not sure where you come up with 10 to 15 million.

Note that 500 million is roughly the World population in 1550 CE.

Just a different guess as I think a sustainable society could be reached by 2300 at these lower population levels, though perhaps fertility levels will remain below replacement over the long term so population will continually decline eventually some optimum will be determined and fewer than two children will not be encouraged.

Fred Magyar says: 11/29/2017 at 3:47 pm
Humans, that is Homo Sapiens per se, maybe not. Don't forget Cro-Magnons probably caused the extinction of Homo Neandertalis in about 40,000 years or so ago. Some other future species of the Genus Homo, very likely will be around for another million or so years. This is what I think they might look like. Maybe they will be called Homo technoligicus implantabilis, feel free to call them whatever you want. In any case resistance will be futile and you will be assimilated. 😉
Cheers!
.

robert wilson says: 12/01/2017 at 12:23 am
http://www.eindtijdinbeeld.nl/EiB-Bibliotheek/Boeken/The_Next_Million_Years__how_to_kill_off_excess_population___1953_.pdf
Nathanael says: 11/29/2017 at 4:18 pm
First of all, Ron, a species which destroys its own food supply or its own habitat *does* go extinct. They're currently referred to as "superpredators" -- it's happened repeatedly throughout history.

Second, regarding population growth, my primary charity for 20 years has promoted sex ed, access to contraceptions, and education of women worldwide. We know how to halt and reverse population growth in the "underdeveloped world". It's not difficult except for the religious groups which oppose contraception and oppose women's liberation.

Often the same religious groups who promote burning of fossil fuels. And deforestation.

Basically, whether humans survive depends on whether we defeat those groups, IMO.

Countries like Cuba which are very underdeveloped but essentially *lack* those religious groups (thank you Godless Communism!) they're doing OK on population stabilization.

Dennis Coyne says: 11/29/2017 at 5:15 pm
Hi Nathaneal,

There are countries that are religious such as Iran that have seen rapid demographic transition (15 years for TFR to go from over 5 to under 2). Also non-communist nations such as South Korea saw rapid transitions.

I agree education and gender equality as well as access to modern contraception are helpful.

Electrification will also help.

OFM says: 11/30/2017 at 7:46 am
Thank you Dennis,

Religion has it's points, as Twain used to put it, both good and bad. Preachers and priests have a way of figuring out what is in their own best interests, short term, medium term, and long term.

There are some religions or cultures, which are not necessarily one and the same thing , that do encourage or more or less actually force women to bear lots of children.

I come from a culture that is very often ridiculed here in this forum, which doesn't bother me at all personally. It's ridiculed on such a broad scale that it's hard to find a public forum peopled with technically well educated people where ridicule isn't the NORM.

As religion goes, my own personal extended family is about as religious as they come in the USA. My nieces and nephews and third cousins, the children of my FIRST cousins, are having kids at less than the necessary 2.1 rate needed to maintain our blood lines, lol. My informal seat of the pants estimate is that the extended family birth rate is down to somewhere around one point five.

It's well known that the birth rate in some countries that are supposedly Catholic has fallen like a rock over the last couple of decades.

And while I can't prove it, it's my firm opinion that once the priesthood in any country comes to understand that it's own long term interests are best served by encouraging small families, small families WILL BE ENCOURAGED. That may not happen for another generation or so, and it may not happen at all in some countries, if there is no top down control of the culture and religion.

Priests and preachers don't exist to serve GOD, or any combinations of gods, etc. They exist because they have found a way to provide a secure and relatively easy way of living largely off the work of their followers.

This is not to say their followers don't get back as much or more as they contribute. Every society has to have leaders, and priests and preachers can be and have often been very effective leaders. Some of them are effective leaders today.

Ron Patterson says: 11/29/2017 at 5:41 pm
First of all, Ron, a species which destroys its own food supply or its own habitat *does* go extinct. They're currently referred to as "superpredators" -- it's happened repeatedly throughout history.

Really, I have never heard of that. The only superpredator I ever heard of are human beings. But if you can give an example of a species destroying its own food supply and habitat, please enlighten me.

Survivalist says: 12/02/2017 at 8:31 pm
Humans on Easter island is the only thing that comes to my mind when thinking of such an example. I'm no expert on Easter island, however I understand people there did not go extinct, and that there was a small group living there when the island was found by Europeans. Again, not terribly well informed about that particular bit of history.
Kathy C says: 12/02/2017 at 5:20 am
When things begin to collapse the grid infrastructure will collapse. Coal factories in China and elsewhere will shut down and dimming will end. James Hansen estimated that warming may be held back by 50% by dimming, so we can expect warming to shoot up. http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2013/20130329_FaustianBargain.pdf

When the grid collapses the nuclear power plants will no longer be able to be cooled. We know what happens then. This article addresses that happening from solar flares or emp attack but of course the failure of the grid from civilization collapse would do the same thing http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/7301-400-chernobyls-solar-flares-electromagnetic-pulses-and-nuclear-armageddon

With collapses of civilization their will be no remediation of forest fires. Chemical and Nuclear Dumps will burn as well as the nuclear power plants that have gone Fukushima.

A very underappreciated study is that of decaying leaves around Chernobyl While horses and other wildlife might now roam around Chernobyl the implications of leaves not decaying is enormous. "However, there are even more fundamental issues going on in the environment. According to a new study published in Oecologia, decomposers -- organisms such as microbes, fungi and some types of insects that drive the process of decay -- have also suffered from the contamination. These creatures are responsible for an essential component of any ecosystem: recycling organic matter back into the soil. Issues with such a basic-level process, the authors of the study think, could have compounding effects for the entire ecosystem."
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/forests-around-chernobyl-arent-decaying-properly-180950075/

To just state that humans wouldn't disappear is nothing more than an assertion, as is stating that they would certainly disappear. However what faces humans is much more daunting than just the chaos of civilization collapse. Those who survive everything else will have a hard time reproducing with all that radiation around https://chernobylguide.com/chernobyl_mutations/

Of course long before civilization collapses the countries of the world may well play out the scenario that Richard Heinberg describes – Last Man Standing. Sound like politics today?

Survivalist says: 12/02/2017 at 8:34 pm
I suspect someone will bulldoze the nuclear power plants into the ocean before they let them melt down on land. Just a WAG.
Fred Magyar says: 11/29/2017 at 9:13 am
I posted this as a reply to a comment by GF a few threads back.

I highly recommend the following three ASU Origins Project debates and panel discussions to get a good feel for the big picture. It might take up a good four hours or so of your time. This isn't something suitable for sound bites. It involves a lot of in depth cross disciplinary knowledge.

https://origins.asu.edu/events/great-debate-transcending-our-origins-violence-humanity-and-future
Great Debate: Transcending Our Origins – Violence, Humanity, and the Future

https://origins.asu.edu/events/great-debate-extinctions-tragedy-opportunity
Great Debate: Extinctions – Tragedy to Opportunity

https://origins.asu.edu/events/conversation-inconvenient-truths-love-extinctions
Conversation: Inconvenient Truths – From Love to Extinctions

Maybe we are all royally fucked already but I also recommend E.O. Wilson's book 'Half Earth'.

Cheers!

Tom Welsh says: 11/29/2017 at 9:38 am
"Why did all this happen? However, when you ask why, you are implying that all this had a cause, that someone or some group of people are to blame for this damn mess we have gotten ourselves into".

I would like to suggest, respectfully, that this wording is the wrong way around. The essence of the problem is that no one has been in charge, no one has taken responsibility – and that is hardly changing at all.

The world is teeming with governments, corporations, NGOs, and "leaders" of all kinds. But what are all those leaders, and their estimable organizations, really trying to do? Some are aiming to earn as much money as possible. Others are trying amass as much power as possible. Most of their programmes have a lot to do with gaining more money and power – which become interchangeable at a certain point (as can be seen from a study of the US Congress, for example).

An intelligent alien visitor to our planet would reasonably conclude that, although individual humans are intelligent to various degrees, the human species as a whole is profoundly unintelligent. It has ample means of diagnosing what has happened, is happening, and will happen. Yet, because it has never developed any organ comparable to the individual's conscious brain, it does nothing about the obvious threats it faces.

Ron Patterson says: 11/29/2017 at 10:34 am
Tom, I think my wording was correct, you just did not quote all of my explanation. You wrote:

The essence of the problem is that no one has been in charge, no one has taken responsibility

No one can take responsibility because no one is in charge of the human race. And as far as being "profoundly unintelligent", I think that is an unfair charge. Having a blind spot in our DNA does not imply that we are unintelligent. The human race has never been faced with such a dilemma before. Our brains evolved to its present state during our hunter-gatherer days. We are molded by evolution to do everything possible to survive and reproduce. There is nothing in our DNA that tells us to protect the biosphere because the lives of our grandchildren depend upon it. So we don't.

What is happening is just human nature. That's all.

Joe Clarkson says: 11/29/2017 at 1:20 pm
What is happening is just human nature.

Evolution has resulted in all species, including humans, having a biotic potential that is greater than the carrying capacity of the niches in which they live. Populations are limited by resource limits and predation, not by self restraint or mutual agreement.

It would have been very unusual, perhaps unique in evolutionary history, for humans to have deliberately limited our population, even though it might have been theoretically possible due to our 'intelligent' ability to foresee our probable future. Despite Malthus, Limits to Growth and many other warnings, no realistic attempt has been made to remain below carrying capacity.

As you note, a massive die-off is inevitable, the only real question is when. Like The Cunning Linguist, I personally think it will be whenever people lose confidence in the global monetary system, as in Korowicz's "Trade Off: Financial system supply-chain cross contagion – a study in global systemic collapse". Once money stops flowing so does the food supply.

Dennis Coyne says: 11/29/2017 at 5:10 pm
Hi Joe,

What would cause this rejection of the monetary system? I don't follow the argument. Everyone decides at once that money is no longer a reasonable medium of exchange. Didn't happen during any financial crisis so far, people couldn't access their money at Banks after the 1929 crash, but this was less of a problem in OECD nations during the GFC.

The ETP nonsense is just that, anyone who knows their thermodynamics knows that theory is full of holes.

Joe Clarkson says: 11/29/2017 at 9:29 pm
Didn't happen during any financial crisis so far

No, but we did come close in 2008. All sorts of debt instruments including commercial paper, CDOs (the root of the problem), many derivatives and letters of credit all froze up. Without prompt dramatic action by the central banks and the US Treasury, the financial system could have collapsed. Nobody knew who was solvent or insolvent, so the central banks had to backstop every financial institution. All this over some mortgage securities based on the US housing market.

Now imagine that growth has turned to continuous worldwide economic recession, the inevitable fate of the global market economy in the face of energy and resource depletion ( it will happen despite the stupidity of the Hill's Group). Unemployment increases year after year and tax revenues continuously fall. Every kind of debt instrument, from sovereign debt to mortgages, to municipal and corporate bonds is more and more likely never to be repaid. Defaults are increasing with greater and greater frequency. The equities of every company become suspect as more and more companies go under.

Sooner or later, a critical mass of people are going to realize that most debts can never be repaid and are therefore worthless as assets. Since almost all money is created from debt, almost all money becomes worthless.

The only thing that makes money work is confidence in its value. When confidence in money (debt repayment) fails, the monetary system fails and without a monetary system, the global market fails.

Billions of lives are dependent on that market functioning smoothly every day. When it fails to function, people will die. I fully expect to lose every financial asset I own at some point, that's why I am preparing to live without money. Unfortunately, most people in the developed world can't do that, though they should be trying to do so with utmost urgency.

I admit that if there were a concerted international effort to declare a debt jubilee and start all over with a new world currency, some form of monetary system might continue after the present one collapses, but I really doubt that creditor countries and debtor countries are going to cooperate with the rapidity and solidarity needed to manage such a transition.

And even though all the productive assets in the world would still continue to exist after a financial collapse, without a market to mediate their interconnected function, everything would grind to a halt. I don't see an international command economy taking over either. That would be harder than creating a whole new monetary system.

The global market economy is very complicated and very fragile. I certainly wouldn't trust my family's life to something that could collapse virtually overnight and neither should you.

Dennis Coyne says: 11/30/2017 at 12:07 pm
Hi Joe,

There are a lot of if's in your scenario, any of which if broken makes the conclusion invalid.

I suppose it is possible that all of those things could happen, just as it is possible that a large asteroid will strike the planet.

I choose not to concern myself with very low probability events.

Pretty sure neither of us will convince the other. If you are convinced buy some good farm land and maybe gold, guns, lead, and gun powder.

Probably even better, find a nice community somewhere.

Note that as long as governments are willing to intervene in the economy when necessary, the system is much more resilient than you believe.

The biggest risk to the Global financial system would be free market fundamentalism where government intervention is never invoked.

I cannot imagine a continuous world wide economic recession, this is a fundamental flaw in your argument.

This assumes what you are trying to prove.

Joe Clarkson says: 11/30/2017 at 6:32 pm
I cannot imagine a continuous world wide economic recession, this is a fundamental flaw in your argument.

Well, I can't imagine how the global market economy and industrial civilization are going to have a steady state economy forever at present levels of production and affluence. Overshoot means eventual retrenchment and die-off.

Up-thread you estimated the carrying capacity of the earth at around 500 million people. You obviously expect to gracefully reach that level (in 2300!) through birth control while still maintaining current standards of living.

I expect that we will reach that population, or fewer, due to complications from resource-depletion-caused economic failure (famine, war, pandemic). There simply isn't enough energy available to make the transition you desire without also destroying the climate, even if there were the political will to do so, which there isn't.

I suggest looking at the history of the last 100 years to decide which future is more probable. Humanity has had the ability to create a high technology, steady-state civilization with sustainable population levels for over a century, but has failed to do so. There is still no evidence that we are serious about making the attempt now. I wonder why you can believe that such a thing will happen at a time when the resources to make it happen will be declining rapidly. Continuous world-wide recession is a certainty and unless you are very old, you will live to see it.

And as far as your suggestions for prepping go, my family has already got it's lifeboat ready in a rural tropical community. I've got the productive land, the community and the guns. I don't expect to rely on gold at all. To my mind, the best durable trade items are ammo, fishing equipment and livestock.

If raising my own food and living without money is necessary, I can do it. If your eco-modernist utopia magically appears, I won't be disappointed, or regret one iota of the 'unnecessary' preparations I will have made, but I prefer to err on the side of prudence.

Dennis Coyne says: 12/02/2017 at 1:14 pm
Hi Joe,

I don't expect to live forever and as I said don't plan ahead for scenarios I believe have a very low probability of occurring. As fossil fuel resources become scarce they will become more expensive and we will use them more carefully (or efficiently). There has been no need to do so for the past 100 years as they have been relatively cheap and abundant. There will be enough energy from Wind, solar, hydro, and perhaps nuclear to make the transition, as fossil fuel becomes expensive these will be produced as they will become cheaper alternatives. Much of freight traffic can be moved to rail, which can be electrified, moving goods from rail to factory or store can be done on overhead wires on main roads with EV used for the last few miles.

Also keep in mind that fossil fuels by nature are quite inefficient in producing electricity with about 60% of the energy wasted, for heating systems compared to heat pumps there is also higher energy use. The transition to non-fossil fuels will result in about one third the energy use for the same exergy (or work and useful heat) provided.

I make no assumptions about living standards being maintained, perhaps the transition will be very difficult and living standards in the OECD will decrease while living standards in less developed nations increase. Note that declining population will reduce resource pressure and realization of resource limits (as will be clear from fossil fuel scarcity) by the majority of citizens may lead to changes in social behavior.

Also note that we have only been aware of the climate problem for about 38 years (using Charney report in 1979 as the starting point).

If fossil fuels are very limited (say 1200 Pg C emissions from 1800-2100) then climate change might be less of a problem, but this will still be adequate for a transition to non-fossil fuels. Even 1000 Pg of total carbon emissions from all anthropogenic sources (including fossil fuel, cement and land use change) may be adequate for an energy transition, though it will need to begin in earnest in the next 5 to 10 years, the sooner we begin the easier it will be to accomplish.

OFM says: 11/30/2017 at 7:51 am
"What is happening is just human nature. That's all."

EXACTLY.

I posted a long rant down thread trying to get this across to people who somehow think we are DEFECTIVE because we don't collectively behave more rationally, hoping to get it across in terms that are intelligible to those of us who have HEARD of evolution, but never actually studied it for more than an hour or two at the most.

alimbiquated says: 12/01/2017 at 6:07 pm
Nonsense, this is just Libertarian propaganda, which is actually a fake religion invented by real estate investors in the fifties in a political catfight to avoid rent control legislation. It has now widen to some kind of pseudo-Darwinistic hocus pocus, but it ignores the obvious fact that we became the world's dominant species be collaboration and long term thinking.

We're doomed if we don't get along with each other, and lots of propaganda is pushing you to believe we never have or could, and never can or will. But that doesn't make it true.

Hickory says: 12/02/2017 at 12:02 am
aren't all religions fake (fabrications)?
Survivalist says: 12/02/2017 at 8:42 pm
That's a pretty narrow view of libertarianism.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarianism
What you say is perhaps relevant to contemporary versions of libertarianism in USA, however it goes back a bit further than the 50's.
It's worth noting there are left wing libertarian models also.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-libertarianism
Phil Stevens says: 12/02/2017 at 2:56 pm
I'd like to question the assertion that no one is in charge of the human race. In "Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States" (Yale, 2017), James C. Scott demonstrates fairly convincingly that humans actively avoided adopting grain-based agriculture because the labor:reward tradeoff was far less satisfactory than what could be obtained through hunting and gathering. The accumulation of surplus, and presumably the insurance a surplus would provide against yearly fluctuations in food supply, in other words, was an insufficient motivation for humans to give up hunting and gathering. As Scott documents quite clearly, this refusal to adopt agriculture as the basis of the human economy persisted for more than 5,000 years in Mesopotamia, and much longer elsewhere.

So what caused the shift? Alas, Scott fails to explore this in any detail. (Just one of the many weaknesses of the book, which nevertheless manages to make its central argument very well.)

I will speculate that what caused the change was the coming-together of a sufficiently large number (five? a dozen? who knows?) of individuals who lacked the ability to feel remorse, shame, or compassion, and who were motivated purely by a desire to enrich and empower themselves. Modern psychology calls these types psychopaths. I suggest that it was these individuals who, likely with help from others with the related disorder of sadism (see recent research on "the dark tetrad"), were first able to subjugate (Scott uses the very apposite term "domesticate") human communities and force them to labor on the land to produce a surplus, which of course then could be appropriated by the psychopaths and their henchmen.

I am not aware of anyone else who has advanced the notion that civilization was founded by psychopaths and sadists. But recent psychological research (popularized in books such as Babiak and Hare, "Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work") suggest that psychopaths are four times more commonly represented in upper management than in the population as a whole, so it seems plausible to me, at least, that the project of civilization and its attendant destruction of the ecosphere has been, from its inception, forced upon humanity by a small minority.

Ron Patterson says: 12/02/2017 at 5:00 pm
Phil, thanks for a great post. I have no doubt that psychopaths have had a great influence on civilization. Many great leaders were no doubt psychopaths. Hitler and Stalin come to mind. However, not all of them were psychopaths. Rosevelt, Washington, Jefferson, and many other U.S. presidents were not psychopaths. Neither was Churchill or Gandhi.

However, your original sentence was: I'd like to question the assertion that no one is in charge of the human race. So I kept reading, waiting for you to tell us just who was in charge of the human race. Of course you did not do that.

Phil Stevens says: 12/03/2017 at 4:56 pm
Fair enough, Ron.

My short answer to your question would be to ask "Cui bono?" Doubtless not everyone who reaps the most benefit from the biocidal trajectory of late capitalism is dominated by one or more of the traits of the Dark Tetrad, of course. Some of us might even be able to argue plausibly that we were unaware of the consequences of our actions. But even though late capitalist society is sufficiently robust that it continues to work out its internal logic without a lot of direct guidance by the dark few, I doubt it would last long without their presence among the wealthy and powerful classes. If their interventions on behalf of the killing machine could be eliminated, my guess is that dismantling the machine would be a much easier project.

Ultimately, it's the ones in positions of power who manifest the traits of the Dark Tetrad whose interventions are critical to maintaining the status quo. If anyone can be said to rule the earth, it's them.

Fred Magyar says: 11/29/2017 at 12:24 pm
An intelligent alien visitor to our planet would reasonably conclude that, although individual humans are intelligent to various degrees, the human species as a whole is profoundly unintelligent. It has ample means of diagnosing what has happened, is happening, and will happen. Yet, because it has never developed any organ comparable to the individual's conscious brain, it does nothing about the obvious threats it faces.

That is my view as well! Though some like E.O. Wilson argue that we have evolved into an eusocial species and can at least in theory function as a hive or termite mound. Where the collective intelligence emerges and even though the individual ants or bees are stupid the anthill is an entity unto itself is smart and knows how to defend itself. See also Douglas Hofstader and Daniel Dennett's book, 'The Mind's I', Chapter 11 titled Prelude Ant Fugue.
http://themindi.blogspot.com/2007/02/chapter-11-prelude-ant-fugue.html

Also check out Curtis Marean's talk at the end of Inconvenient Truths – From Love to Extinctions from the link I provided above from the ASU origins debates. He specifically makes that analogy about aliens, in his talk.

Marean is a professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and the associate director of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University. He is interested in the relation between climate and environmental change and human evolution, both for its significance as a force driving past human evolution, and as a challenge to be faced in the near future. Curtis has focused his career on developing field and laboratory teams and methods that tap the synergy between the disciplines to bring new insights to old scientific problems. He has spent over 20 years doing fieldwork in Africa, and conducting laboratory work on the field-collected materials, with the goal of illuminating the final stages of human evolution – how modern humans became modern.

OFM says: 11/30/2017 at 8:04 am
" Yet, because it has never developed any organ comparable to the individual's conscious brain, it does nothing about the obvious threats it faces."

Such an organ would be very costly, in terms of depriving humanity of the energy and resources devoted to it, depriving us of the use of these resources for other purposes.

Evolution doesn't create organs that will be useful in dealing with new circumstances, by plan, ahead of time, except by accident. It's just a "lucky accident" FOR US TODAY that our own ancestors evolved hands capable of grasping things such as branches .. which set the stage for us to be able later on to grasp a stone and use it as a hammer or weapon.

No planning is involved. NONE. Various deists who accept the reality of evolution but still believe in higher powers disagree of course.

I can't prove they are wrong. I don't believe anybody else can. All we can do is demonstrate that they have no evidence that such higher powers exist.

An absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, lol.

George Kaplan says: 11/29/2017 at 1:04 pm
I doubt if "intelligent" aliens are any different than we are – and therefore probably have a very short life expectancy should they ever get to an industrial age – evolution can only work from one generation to the next and is therefore incompatible with longer term planning for species longevity.
Steve says: 11/29/2017 at 2:25 pm
"It has often been said that, if the human species fails to make a go of it here on the Earth, some other species will take over the running. In the sense of developing intelligence this is not correct. We have or soon will have, exhausted the necessary physical prerequisites so far as this planet is concerned. With coal gone, oil gone, high-grade metallic ores gone, no species however competent can make the long climb from primitive conditions to high-level technology. This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned. The same will be true of other planetary systems. On each of them there will be one chance, and one chance only." – Sir Fred Hoyle
Ron Patterson says: 11/29/2017 at 3:19 pm
Thanks for posting this Hoyle quote Steve. I have read it before, many times. And the truth of it is so obvious. All the things that have enabled this wonderful abundant life will soon be gone. Then what?
Dennis Coyne says: 11/29/2017 at 5:02 pm
Hi Ron,

We recycle what we can, we use less of scarce resources as prices rise and we try to find substitutes for resources as they become scarce. Also population will fall as TFR falls (with a time lag due to population momentum) putting less pressure on resources.

None of this will be easy, and perhaps not possible, hard to predict the future.

Ron Patterson says: 11/29/2017 at 5:58 pm
Dennis, Hoyle here, is talking about long-term. Recycle or not, we will run out of all fossil fuels and eventually all metals. However, recyclig will help, in the short term anyway.

No, we cannot really predict the future. All we can do is look at what is happening right now and say: "If this continues ." And Dennis, it will continue. Human nature may be changed by evolution. But that will take many generations and tremendous evolutionary pressure. So right now, human nature being what it is, we can predict that collapse is just down the road. Just how far down the road is what we are trying to figure out right now.

Caelan MacIntyre says: 11/29/2017 at 6:27 pm
Ron, if we look at the apparent numbers, say of many species, collapse appears already here, just that the shockwave hasn't hit yet. Remember, if you see an explosion in the distance, it takes awhile to hit.
Dennis Coyne says: 11/30/2017 at 11:51 am
Hi Ron,

Yes some things will continue and others will not.

For example fossil fuel output has grown pretty steadily in absolute terms (about 163 million tonnes of oil equivalent per year from 1981 to 2016) and I expect that will change (it will not continue).

The total fertility ratio has decreased at about 1.38% per year from 1965 to 2015, but I expect this will continue until the World TFR approaches the high income nation average of about 1.75 (which would be reached in 2040 if the 1965-2015 rate of decrease continues).

There may be more fossil fuels available than either of us think, but if my medium scenarios are correct there may be enough fossil fuel to enable a transition to non-fossil fuel, then we just need to deal with other depleting resources.

Note that the fact that fossil fuels have peaked and declined (which should be apparent by 2035 at the latest), may enable people to realize that this will be true for every scarce resource and perhaps we will plan ahead and recycle, and use resources more efficiently.

Much of this is a matter of education.

Perhaps the meaning of soon we use differently.

When you say "will soon be gone." Can you define soon in years.

The sun will eventually destroy all life on Earth, but not "soon", as I define it. 🙂

Ron Patterson says: 11/30/2017 at 12:10 pm
Well, perhaps I should not have said "gone". There will always be trace amounts of everything left. And nothing will suddenly disappear. There will be a decline curve for everything. But let's deal with the one with the least future abundance, oil. I believe we are at peak oil right, or very near it anyway. The bumpy plateau may last from 5 to 10 years. Then the decline curve will be much steeper than the ascent.

That's about the best answer I can ive you.

Dennis Coyne says: 12/02/2017 at 1:26 pm
Hi Ron,

Let's assume for the moment you are correct and the peak is either now or next month and we remain on plateau for a year or two.

What happens to the price of oil?

Let's assume that you agree that unless there is a severe World recession in the next year or two that oil prices are likely to rise.

What happens it oil output if oil prices rise to say $100/b or more?

Eventually I expect output will reach a peak no matter how high oil prices rise, I just disagree it will be at the current level of output.

Can you define your limits for the "bumpy plateau" (high and low 12 month average output level)?

If the limits were 80 to 85 Mb/d, then we would agree and I would say we may be on a bumpy plateau between 80 and 85 Mb/d for 10 years or so.

I suspect you may expect output to remain below 81 or 82 Mb/d (World 12 month average C+C output).

Ron Patterson says: 12/02/2017 at 3:01 pm
Dennis, you must be familiar with the phrase "You cannot get blood from a turnip". High prices will not create more oil in the ground. We will most definitely have higher prices but they will be high because we have reached the peak. So, $100 oil will not create a higher peak.

Just my guess but I believe the plateau will average less than 82 million bpd.

Dennis Coyne says: 12/03/2017 at 10:37 am
Hi Ron,

So could you define your "bumpy plateau"?

Is it a trailing 12 month average of between 80 and 82 Mb/d?

I imagine we will break above 82 Mb/d in 2018 if oil prices are over $65/b (Brent in 2016$) for the annual average in 2016.

For the most recent 12 months (EIA data) ending August 2017 we are at 80.93 Mb/d.

In the low price environment since 2015 the trend in World output is an annual increase of 280 kb/d. This rate of increase is likely to double (at minimum) with oil prices over $80/b, which would bring us to 82 Mb/d by 2019 or 2020, perhaps this will be as high a output rises, but my guess is that there is a 50% probability that output will continue to rise above this and perhaps a 25% probability it may reach 85 Mb/d around 2025.

Ron Patterson says: 12/03/2017 at 2:49 pm
I thought I did that Dennis. I the bumpy plateau will average about 82 million barrels per day or less. There could be spikes and dips and it will last from 2 to as much as 10 years. But when it heads down, it will do so with a vengeance.
alimbiquated says: 12/01/2017 at 6:11 pm
Blah, nobody needs coal or oil in the long run, and metal is never "gone" unless you shoot into space or a fission reactor.

For every obvious problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

-H. L- Mencken

Hightrekker says: 11/29/2017 at 7:44 pm
Ehrlich underestimated the Green Revolution and Haber/Bosch factor that was really upping food production at the time.
Ultimately, he will be proven right.
OFM says: 11/30/2017 at 8:39 am
I met Ehrlich personally when he visited Va Tech sometime around 1972. Visiting scholars often have smaller seminar meetings after making their presentation to the larger U community, which he did. Not many people attended the particular seminar I participated in , probably less than a couple of dozen. I was taking some ag courses there at the time, and enjoyed a long conversation with him.

You're dead on. He badly underestimated what we farmers could do, and are still doing, given the necessary industrial support system that keeps industrial level agriculture humming.

Sooner or later . We are going to have to deal with the Population Bomb. The resources we are devoting to industrial ag aren't going to last forever. Neither are nature's one time gifts of soil and water so long as we are in overshoot.

I was head over heels in love with a milk and corn fed girl from Ohio and we were about ready to join the Peace Corp or something along that line, and go someplace and save the people in some backwards community by teaching them how to farm the American way all day and enjoy each other all night of course.

But one of my crusty and profane old professors took me aside and asked me if I really wanted to go to XXXXX and teach starving people how to produce twice as much food so that twice as many of them would starve a generation down the road.

HE was right about the increase in production just resulting in more mouths to feed . back then. Since then, things have changed dramatically . in SOME countries.

There are good reasons to believe that birth rates may fall dramatically within the next decade or two in at least some of the countries that still have exploding populations. Maybe a few of them will manage to avoid starvation on the grand scale long enough for their populations to stabilize and decline.

It's too late for falling birth rates to prevent famine on the grand scale in a hell of a lot of places.

Dennis Coyne says: 11/30/2017 at 10:54 am
Hi Old Farmer Mac,

Let's assume Ron's prediction of 2050 for a peak in World population at around 9 Billion is correct (this seems a very reasonable guess to me).

Also assume for the moment the grain is freely traded throughout the World with few barriers to trade (tariffs and outright bans).

Are you suggesting that it is likely that World food output will not be adequate to feed the World under this scenario?

Typically famine results from war and food supply not being able to be safely transported to those in need, at least in the past 50 years or so.

Do you expect this to change before 2070?

OFM says: 11/30/2017 at 2:51 pm
Hi Dennis,

I'm going to answer twice, lol.

First off, do I think it's technically possible that we can feed a population that peaks around nine billion a few decades down the road?

This answer depends on how well energy supplies and the overall world economy holds up, with some wild cards thrown in relating to climate, depletion of certain critical resources such as fresh water and minerals such as easily mined phosphate rock, etc.

New technology and the reactions of the people to it will also play a big role.The role played by governments local to national to international will be critical, and huge, because only governments will have power enough to FORCE some changes that may and probably will be necessary.

Here are a few examples.

It may be necessary to force well to do people aka the middle classes, to give up eating red meat for the most part, so that grain ordinarily fed to cattle and hogs can be diverted to human consumption.

(I expect rich people will still be able to get a ribeye or pork chop any time by buying up ration tickets, or buying on the black market, or paying an exorbitant consumption tax, or any combination of these strategies.)

Fuels, especially motor fuels, may be tightly rationed, so that enough will be available to run farms and food processing and distribution industries.

Large numbers of people may be paid or coerced into going to work on farms or in community gardens or greenhouses.

A substantial fraction of the resources currently devoted to other needs or wants may have to be diverted to building sewage treatment infrastructure designed to capture and recycle the nutrients in human sewage.

I could go on all day.

Bottom line, I think that barring bad luck, it is technically possible that we can feed that many people that long, and for a while afterwards, as the population hopefully starts trending down.

As a practical matter, I don't think there WILL BE food enough for nine billion.

It's more likely in my opinion that some countries are going to come up desperately short of food, and be unable to beg, buy or steal it from other countries. Some people, and some countries, are likely to resort to taking food, and other resources of course by force from weaker neighbors .. maybe even "neighbors" on the far side of oceans.

I may be too pessimistic, but I'm one of the regulars here who think that climate change for the worse, much worse, is in the cards, and I spend a few hours every week reading history. Humans have always been ready to go to war, even without good reasons. A lot of people in desperate situations are going to see war as their best option, in my opinion, over the next half century.

Maybe my fellow Yankees will be willing to give up their burgers for beans so that kids in some far off country can eat. I'm not so sure we are compassionate enough to do so on the grand scale.

Dennis Coyne says: 11/30/2017 at 11:25 am
Hi Hightrekker,

If total fertility ratios continue to fall (for the World they fell from 5 in 1965 to 2.5 in 2015) about a 1.38% per year, there may be no catastrophic collapse.

If that average rate should continue for 16 years then World TFR would be at 2 (below replacement level) by 2031. If the rate of decrease in TFR experienced from 1965 to 2015 continues for 35 years (to 2050), the TFR for the World would be 1.54 in 2050.

Based on UN data from 2015, 65% of the World's population had a weighted average TFR (weighted by population) of 2.05, but a more sophisticated calculation using estimates of the population of Women of child bearing age I have not done, I simply used total population to weight the TFR from each nation which implicitly assumes the age structure of each nation is identical which is clearly false.

Hightrekker says: 11/30/2017 at 1:01 pm
Dennis- We are adding 83 million per year to a already population in drastic overshoot.
The barn door is already open, and the horses are gone.
Ron Patterson says: 11/30/2017 at 1:17 pm
Exactly! That's been my point from the very beginning. It is already way too late to fix things. We have a predicament that must be dealt with, not a problem that can be solved.
alimbiquated says: 11/29/2017 at 3:09 pm
Yeah, they shot white people. Can't have that. Nowadays the cops shoot three people on average every day in America. Nobody cares, life is cheap in America. Gun deaths are the price of freedom. Native Americans run about three times the risk of white folks, and black folks run about twice the risk.
GoneFishing says: 11/29/2017 at 11:03 am
It is obvious that humans are the major drivers of extinction on the planet. We are in the Sixth Extinction event and we cause it directly and indirectly through our actions. the why is quite obvious, all species live to propagate and expand to their limits, our limits are global at this point and so are our effects. I don't see energy as much of a problem as there is plenty of it in various forms and we can obtain it if we want it. That however means continuing the high tech industrial form of civilization which we have embarked upon. Can that be made sustainable and much less harmful, even helpful? Of course it can, it's all about wise choices and thinking before we act instead of just going for profit.

The loss of vertebrates is just horrible but the loss of invertebrates will be the undoing of our farming and food production and much of the other life that depends upon them. The loss of insect life due to global human generated poisoning of the environment, especially food production areas, will unwind much of the food production.
As collapse starts, the chaos of riots and crime will rise sharply. All those mentally ill and drug addicted people will no longer have their chemicals, causing a trigger point of violence and chaotic actions.
However the major fast cause of loss of human life will be disease. People forget how it was just a few generations ago before antibiotics. Diseases will spread rapidly among the weak and starving, public sanitation will fail causing more disease to spread. Clean water supplies will become absent, compromised or even purposely wrecked. Hospitals will fail because of both being overrun and the power will fail plus supplies will fail. Disease will grow and spread among both people and their animals. It could take less than a generation to drastically reduce the population of the species, with the resulting loss of knowledge, technical ability and industrial ability the cascade will go further.
In the bad case scenarios much of the infrastructure will burn putting up a cloud of aerosols and GHG's as well as causing a large toxic pulse to the environment.

But on the other side humans are very inventive and determined to continue the system that supports a huge population. So we may expand this time forward for quite a while, but only through smart choices and changing how we do things such as agriculture, industry and technology. Smart choices, not choices just for profit.

Just one example of our innovative and creative ability.
From sand to soil in 7 hours
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stc5MUIloP0

SRSrocco says: 11/29/2017 at 11:17 am
NOT TO WORRY .

Humans need not worry about the Falling EROI, the Falling Carrying Capacity or the degradation of the environment. Those no longer matter now that BITCOIN is now trading over $11,000.

Technology will solve all our problems and Bitcoin will make us all wealthy once again.

steve

Doug Leighton says: 11/29/2017 at 11:21 am
Ron -- The full text of this paper in SCIENCE will cost you 15 bucks but in my opinion, is well worth it; below is the Abstract. Commenters are welcome to talk about educating women, etc. but its too late for Africa for the balance of this century. I have personally observed the situation in Central Africa where you can see a school each containing about 1,000 kids located at roughly one-kilometer intervals along all significant roads -- a lot of kids. Virtually all schools in Africa are run by churches (of all types), and you can guess what these guys are teaching about birth control: I've asked, and the answer is NOTHING. AFRICANS LOVE KIDS. And, health care has improved greatly over the past few decades meaning general health has been upgraded and infant mortality has been reduced greatly. In fact, I would say the bulk of the UN's efforts in Africa are directed towards improving general health at which they have been successful.

Sorry for the inarticulate ramble but this is a rather personal interest of mine partly because our family is supporting a young girl in Uganda who will soon become a medical doctor. I had promised to stop commenting on the Blog but the African over population crisis issue is one dear to my heart.

WORLD POPULATION STABILIZATION UNLIKELY THIS CENTURY

"The United Nations recently released population projections based on data until 2012 and a Bayesian probabilistic methodology. Analysis of these data reveals that, contrary to previous literature, the world population is unlikely to stop growing this century. There is an 80% probability that world population, now 7.2 billion people, will increase to between 9.6 billion and 12.3 billion in 2100. This uncertainty is much smaller than the range from the traditional UN high and low variants. Much of the increase is expected to happen in Africa, in part due to higher fertility rates and a recent slowdown in the pace of fertility decline. Also, the ratio of working-age people to older people is likely to decline substantially in all countries, even those that currently have young populations."

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/346/6206/234

Ron Patterson says: 11/29/2017 at 11:39 am
There is an 80% probability that world population, now 7.2 billion people, will increase to between 9.6 billion and 12.3 billion in 2100.

I think you are about 237,500,000 too low with your estimate of world population. Well, that was as of a few minutes ago. It was 7,437,500,000 last time I checked.
World Population Clock

However, I think the UN is way off on their population projection. I believe that world population will reach 9 billion by 2050, just about a billion and a half above where it is now. However, I doubt it will ever go much above that. The UN, of course, is predicting no catastrophes. After all, that's not their job.

alimbiquated says: 11/29/2017 at 3:11 pm
The UN systematically underestimates the fall in birth rate associated with better education for women and their access to health care and contraceptives.
GoneFishing says: 11/29/2017 at 11:43 am
Here is the free pdf version of the paper"World population stabilization unlikely this century". https://www.stat.berkeley.edu/~aldous/157/Papers/gerland.pdf
Dennis Coyne says: 11/29/2017 at 12:49 pm
Hi Doug and Gonefishing,

The article inked below is also of interest (chart from the PDF).

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378014001095?via%3Dihub

David Archibald says: 11/30/2017 at 2:06 am
My work suggests that the world runs out of more land that can be put under grain by 2035. This is mainly Brazil and Russia. Just about every country in Africa is importing grain now. Therefore most of their population growth has to be fed on imported grain. Most of the costs in producing grain are in energy so a rising oil price will have a leveraged effect on food prices.
Dennis Coyne says: 11/29/2017 at 12:31 pm
Hi Doug,

Glad you decided to comment. Yes Africa is indeed a problem as far as population growth. With education and improved access to health care and internet access on smart phones, African women may become empowered and decide to control their fertility using modern birth control. The transition to lower fertility can happen in a generation.

As an anecdotal example, my family and my wife's averaged a Total fertility ratio (TFR) of 5.5 for the two families (close to the average sub-Saharan TFR), the next generation of 11 children in total had a total of 6 children for a TFR of about 1.1.

Unscientific and likely too optimistic, but not that different from what occurred in the upper middle income nations of the World (population about 2.4 billion in 2015) where TFR decreased from 4.93 in 1975 to 1.93 in 2000 a period of 25 years.

It is the low income nations that have lagged in reducing TFR, economic development is a key ingredient to getting population under control. Easier to say than to accomplish.

The article below is hopeful https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/06/26/the-race-to-solar-power-africa

I saw something similar on PBS https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/in-remote-kenyan-villages-solar-startups-bring-light

George Kaplan says: 11/29/2017 at 1:10 pm
Dennis – I guess this site is rightfully energy-centric but what's your view on the other limits that are showing up like potable water, top soil, phosphorus?
Dennis Coyne says: 11/29/2017 at 1:40 pm
Hi George,

I think recycling human waste might help with top soil and phosphorus, though a Farmer would know more than me. I think recycling water from sewers can also be done and eventually the expansion of solar power may allow desalination of sea water.

In short, I think there are solutions to these issues, especially as we move to more sustainability (less beef production would help) and a peak in population as education levels improve would also help.

Some nations such as Iran have made amazing progress on their TFR, from 1990 to 2005 (15 years) the TFR fell from 5.62 to 1.97 and by 2015 it had fallen to 1.75.

African nations should find out what happened in Iran over that period and import some of the lessons learned.

Note that there are many examples of a rapid demographic transition, another is South Korea where total fertility ratio (TFR) decreased from 5.63 to 1.60 from 1965 to 1990 and in 2015 had fallen to 1.26.

Ghung says: 11/29/2017 at 5:44 pm
Using South Korea as an example of increased sustainability (the point here?) is not helping your case much Dennis. As their TFR decreased, their consumption grew exponentially. Just since 1991:

https://i0.wp.com/www.eurasiareview.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/petroleum_consumption.png

Seems their per-capita energy use has skyrocketed in the last 60 years or so, and they now import most of their energy sources. They became 9th in CO2 emissions as of 2005. Looks like increased standards-of-living and declining birth rates are not much of a solution for reducing planetary impacts.

Dennis Coyne says: 11/30/2017 at 10:40 am
Hi Ghung,

I agree. The point was that population growth can be reduced.

We need two things to happen, reduced use of fossil fuels (which peak fossil fuels will take care of by 2030) and reduced population (which peak population in 2050 to 2070 will take care of).

https://www.demographic-research.org/volumes/vol28/39/28-39.pdf

Figure below is from page 1153 of the article linked above.

Note that in 2015 the TFR for South Korea was 1.26, if average life expectancy does not rise above 90 years and World TFR falls to 1.25 by 2100, then World Population falls from 8 billion to 2 billion in about 100 years. This reduces the use of resources and the pressure on other species.

Transition to wind and solar with pumped hydro, wind gas, and thermal storage backup can reduce carbon emissions and reforestation as population falls will help to absorb some of the carbon in the atmosphere. Carbon capture and storage of burned biofuels and cement that absorbs CO2 would be other options for reducing atmospheric CO2.

As fossil fuel peaks prices will rise and the transition to non-fossil fuel will speed up.

The process will be messy, but we are likely to muddle through as there is not much alternative (or not a better one as I see it.)

Dennis Coyne says: 11/30/2017 at 10:41 am
Forgot chart sorry

George Kaplan says: 11/30/2017 at 3:54 am
I think a common factor in all countries seeing large falls in birth rates is that they are preceded by large falls in death rates. This typically takes a couple of generations, which is one of the biggest causes of population overshoot. In Iran it was maybe a bit faster but not much – from above 20 per 1000 in the 50s and 12 in the eighties to around 4 now.
yvesT says: 11/30/2017 at 8:39 am
Regarding fertilizers, when you realize that there was a "human bones" market in the 19th century, and that for instance England "emptied" the catacombs in Sicily for that, or took back the soldiers bones from Waterloo, you get a sense of the urgency for fertilizer without phosphorus or natural gas based ones.
See for instance below :
"England is robbing all other countries of their fertility. Already in her eagerness for bones, she has turned up the battlefields of Leipsic, and Waterloo, and of Crimea; already from the catacombs of Sicily she has carried away skeletons of many successive generations. Annually she removes from the shores of other countries to her own the manorial equivalent of three million and a half of men Like a vampire she hangs from the neck of Europe."
https://livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe40s/crops_04.html
Or below :
https://medium.com/study-of-history/the-bones-of-waterloo-a3beb35254a3

I had a better link regarding the bones from Sicily catacombs (many due to the plague epidemia I think), but cannot find it back.

yvesT says: 11/30/2017 at 10:21 am
Note : the above quotation is in fact from Justus Von Liebig (German chemist/agronomist), it also appears in below books :
https://books.google.fr/books?id=bnXXES5-LRcC&pg=PA175&lpg=PA175&dq=fertilizer+sicily+catacombs&source=bl&ots=uWrEC04pcf&sig=zf_RNhU0HfM_aetTy6AkyHSpp3Q&hl=fr&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi7m_v-uebXAhXF0aQKHR1ABOkQ6AEIXjAK#v=onepage&q=fertilizer%20sicily%20catacombs&f=false
or :
https://books.google.fr/books?id=VugoemP2th0C&pg=PA178&lpg=PA178&dq=justus+von+liebig+bones+sicily&source=bl&ots=M808Tc41C4&sig=D-NkZ4zpKOekifQQs-eJt4P7LsI&hl=fr&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwia1eiczObXAhUJF-wKHRITBM0Q6AEIRTAI#v=onepage&q=justus%20von%20liebig%20bones%20sicily&f=false

And this page above (from "Justus Von Liebig : the chemical gatekeeper" p 178) is also interesting on other aspects, suggesting Liebig would today address energy ..

Nathanael says: 11/29/2017 at 4:24 pm
The churches which promote childbearing must be destroyed. They are basically the enemies of humanity. Since they're losing in North America, Europe, South America, and most of Asia, they are targeting Africa.

(And *targeting* is the correct word -- they are deliberately sending missionaries to spread their sick, twisted doctrines and spending lots of money to do so.)

islandboy says: 11/29/2017 at 5:00 pm
If you read my story below, Food for the Poor is a religious group. In Jamaica I believe it is affiliated with Missionaries for the Poor , an international Catholic organisation. So while they are doing yeoman service in providing shelter for poor folks, they are doing diddly squat to encourage poor folks to stop creating more mouths to feed and bodies to clothe and shelter. Isn't that just dandy?

Incidentally here's a recent newspaper article from my neck of the woods:

Crime strangling growth – Youth unemployment in Caribbean highest in world, fuelling criminality

Youth unemployment in the Caribbean is said to be the highest in the world, and crime, partly fuelled by this high rate of joblessness, is a major obstacle to economic growth in the region, according to Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The IMF boss, who addressed the sixth High Level Caribbean Forum, held yesterday at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston, said that crime imposed several economic costs such as public spending on security and the criminal justice system, as well as private spending on security. She also highlighted social costs arising from the loss of income owing to victimisation and incarceration.

Can anybody spot my comment? Hint: I used a pseudonym that should be familiar with everybody here.

Hightrekker says: 11/29/2017 at 7:49 pm
Can we be so unpolitical correct to call for "A Pope onA Rope?"
Someone must draw a line in the sand- or should we all be under a religious spell?
Or do we want to break that spell?
Survivalist says: 11/30/2017 at 10:57 pm
"would you like to see the pope on the end of a rope do you think he's a fool"

https://youtu.be/OOCbrUTpukM

GoneFishing says: 11/29/2017 at 7:54 pm
This was discussed just this morning on NYC NPR, concerning homelessness and the housing provided for low income people. The gist of it was that although there were programs to help the people with food and housing, very little was really being done to solve the problems.
Fred Magyar says: 12/02/2017 at 8:20 pm
"This uncertainty is much smaller than the range from the traditional UN high and low variants. Much of the increase is expected to happen in Africa, in part due to higher fertility rates and a recent slowdown in the pace of fertility decline. Also, the ratio of working-age people to older people is likely to decline substantially in all countries, even those that currently have young populations."

I have the impression that many of us myself included have an outdated and still colonialist view of African societies. I think changes happening in many parts of Africa will surprise us and technologically leapfrog over much of the built infrastructure of the OECD countries. I have seen it happen first hand in previously underprivileged parts of Brazil.

https://www.ted.com/talks/keller_rinaudo_how_we_re_using_drones_to_deliver_blood_and_save_lives#t-518345

How we're using drones to deliver blood and save lives

Keller Rinaudo wants everyone on earth to have access to basic health care, no matter how hard it is to reach them. With his start-up Zipline, he has created the world's first drone delivery system to operate at national scale, transporting blood and plasma to remote clinics in East Africa with a fleet of electric autonomous aircraft. Find out how Rinaudo and his team are working to transform health care logistics throughout the world -- and inspiring the next generation of engineers along the way.

BTW, I have a serious question! Does this kind of technology make the population crisis in Africa better or worse? Would like to hear some thoughts on the matter.

islandboy says: 11/29/2017 at 1:49 pm
It is uncanny how this lead post has come about just when I have been thinking about this subject recently. I am currently very depressed, to the point I suspect it may be clouding my better judgment with respect to various matters. This depression is partly caused by my views of the future of my little island in particular and the world in general. Let me try and illustrate how my thoughts have been brought into focus recently.

I travel around the city I live in, passing through all the different types of communities from time to time. We have pockets of extreme wealth as evidenced by palatial homes with swimming pools, tennis courts and all the creature comforts you would expect in the home of a wealthy first world resident. Leaving these pockets of extreme wealth, one doesn't have to drive for more than five minutes to reach pockets of extreme poverty, people who are so poor, they cannot pay rent and cannot envision ever buying a plot of land or a house, so they build structures on any piece of land that they can get away with. This type of activity extends across the island and there is no area that does not experience informal settlement (aka squatting). There is a political aspect to this, in that in an effort to garner the votes of the large voting block that poor people make up succesive governments have not discouraged squatting, to the point of encouraging it. See yesterday's cartoon in one of the local rags for a satirical perspective of the situation but, I digress.

I try to avoid too much contact with people outside my socioeconomic and educational class because it inevitably leads me to being depressed but, sometimes I end up in that exact situation. This past Monday night was one such case and it was my observations from Monday night that got me thinking about Peak Oil and carrying capacity and overshoot. I was invited to visit a gathering and told to bring drinks and that they were going to cook so, I decided not to eat a meal before leaving the city. It was a forty five minute drive, including a drive through late evening heavy traffic heading westward out of the city, past a big highway construction project being carried out by a Chinese (honest to God, from China) construction firm that has been active in the island for a number of years. On arriving at my destination I was told by my host that the gathering was at another house less than half a mile away.

This particular house was one of 39 houses made possible by the efforts of a couple from Grand Junction, Colorado (with pics) along with the local branch of Food For The Poor . I estimate that, these "houses" measure about 13ft. by 15 ft. inside and are supposed to include a kitchen, a bathroom and two bedrooms. The sister of my host was the recipient of this house, being qualified for the charity as a result of being unemployed with four children, one of whom was either newborn or yet to be born at the time the house was handed over to her. She was not yet thirty years old when her last child was born. Does anybody see where I am going with this yet?

Back to the gathering. On arriving at the house my host informed that no food had been cooked. By this time I was hungry and asked where was the nearest cook-shop where I could purchase a meal. I traveled with my host to Old Harbour, the nearest town apart from Spanish Town. I can only describe Spanish Town as an overpopulated, crime infested, thug controlled mess, that becomes a ghost town by midnight even though it is surprisingly busy by day. I asked my host if I should buy a meal for them also and they declined but, by the time we got back to the house, they declared that they were hungry and needed to get something to cook to go with the rice they had. So off we went to try and find a local shop that had what they wanted and was still open. First one was a 24 hour joint, built using an old cargo truck body but it didn't have all they wanted so it was off to another one that we managed to catch just as they were closing. We came away with a small packet of "veggie chunks" and some cooking oil. The little propane stove had been fired up and the rice was almost done so in less than fifteen minutes a meal of rice and veggie chunks was being served to four or five adults, one of whom had an infant, less than a year old, sharing the meal with her.

So let me weave together how all of this ties in with the subject of the lead post. First the "house" was only possible through the generosity of citizens of a first world, developed country. The materials that made the house (lumber corrugated, galvanized steel) are the products of extractive industries that rely heavily of FF, petroleum in particular. The soft drinks and alcohol that I brought to the gathering were manufactured, distributed and retailed in a system, heavily dependent on external energy. My vehicle runs of diesel. The rice for the meal I ate and the one at the house was imported from outside the island, again produced and delivered with lots of help from petroleum. The chicken I ate was locally produced with imported grain, a product of industrial scale agriculture, probably in the USA. Thankfully many of the chicken farmers are involved in a project that started with 15 kW systems at about 40 chicken farms and seems to be expanding. The veggie chunks are a meat substitute protein made from soy meal, again a product of industrial scale agriculture.

The cooking oil was probably one of soy, palm, canola, corn or coconut oil, produced at an industrial scale and imported to the island. Jamaica was once an exporter of coconut oil before the industry was decimated by a disease called lethal yellowing back in the early 70s. Virtually the entire population of coconut palms on the island was wiped out by this disease and even though efforts have been made to resuscitate the industry using disease resistant varieties, more than forty years on, the manufacture of coconut oil in Jamaica is a tiny cottage industry.

So here we have five or adults, two males and three females, one of which had four children with the other two having one each. There were other people at the gathering but as far as I am aware only two had jobs, the brother of my host who left before the meal and the woman with the infant who has a part time job selling lotto tickets. All of these people are living on the edge, heavily dependent on a system that is in danger of collapse for their very survival and they are far from alone. there are thousands of them if not hundreds of thousands on this island alone.

If for whatever reason industrial scale agriculture fails, the songbirds are going to be eaten out of the trees. I used to dissect rats in my sixth form (12 and 13th grade) biology classes and there ain't much meat on them but, if we get hungry enough maybe we'll turn on the rats. Without affordable propane, every tree and shrub will end up as firewood. This is the reason why I have an almost obsessive focus on renewable energy, solar in particular. It is my hope that the deployment of renewable energy can stay ahead of FF depletion long enough for global civilization to transition away from FF. It is my hope that our civilization, seeing itself on a real time, renewable energy budget, will begin to recognize the fragility of our situation. I have to ask Ron and others to forgive me as I continue to bring attention to the hopeful stories. It is the only way I can keep myself from sliding into depression and despair. It is the only way I can cope.

alimbiquated says: 11/29/2017 at 4:07 pm
The Green Revolution in the 60s was supposed to solve all our problems, and it solved a lot of them, especially in Europe and Asia. It works well when you have a lot of water and farm intensively, but is destructive in semi-arid conditions and when used in extensive agriculture, like the American Midwest.

After the Green Revolution, Asia boomed and Africa fell behind, prompting racist theories. Geography and climate are more likely explanations. In India, for example, the more arid north did less well than the wetter south. The Chinese were the first to realize the problem, and started a new generation of re-greening projects to boost agricultural production.

Meanwhile bad farming practices continues to rapidly degrade wide stretches of North America and South America. I was reading recently about a county in SD that lost 19 inches (not feet!) of topsoil between 1960 and 2014. Many places in America simply abandoned farming, like New England and Appalachia. People blame red dirt and the crick risin' in Appalachia and glacial rocks in New England, but that wasn't a problem before soil degradation set in.

The Green Revolution focused on genetics and chemistry, which makes sense if applied correctly. Development economists were puzzled that Kenyan farmers were uninterested in high yield seeds, but the explanation as simple: They need a regular water supply, not better seeds. A lot of places in the world get 3-4 weeks of rain a years, and good seeds don't solve this problem. Pumping the water out of the aquifier isn't the solution either, just ask anyone in Antelope Valley CA, a former grassland turned desert by the alfalfa farmers.

My mother warned my to watch out for flash floods when camping in the desert. It took me decades to understand why flash floods are a particular problem in the desert: More or less by definition, deserts are places where there are flash floods. The flash floods are both cause and symptom of soil degradation. Deserts aren't places where there isn't enough water -- they are places where rainwater runs off the surface instead of seeping into the soil. Degraded soil can't absorb water fast enough, surface runoff degrades soil.

The problem with industrial agriculture is that it treats the great outdoors like a hydroponic farm -- it ignores soil ecology and just assumes the hydrology will work itself out.

A more modern approach starts with water and soil. It's spreading rapidly in Africa, for example with the sand dams in Kenya, the terracing in Ethiopia and Kenya, and the various planting pit (like zai and demi-lunes) in the Sahel and agroforestry (planting trees in fields, or crops in orchards) in a lot of arid places.

It's true that mankind is pushing the limits of what the current ecosystem can carry, but it's also true that the ecosystem could be much bigger than it currently is.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtOBSmIBx1A

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wkq540gsq2M

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nKc5wEjWrY

Ron Patterson says: 11/29/2017 at 4:22 pm
Meanwhile bad farming practices continues to rapidly degrade wide stretches of North America and South America. I was reading recently about a county in SD that lost 19 feet of topsoil between 1960 and 2014.

There is a serious problem with that statement. No place on earth has 19 feet of topsoil, not even 19 inches over an entire county.

Topsoil Wikipedia
Topsoil is the upper, outermost layer of soil, usually the top 2 inches (5.1 cm) to 8 inches (20 cm). It has the highest concentration of organic matter and microorganisms and is where most of the Earth's biological soil activity occurs.

alimbiquated says: 11/29/2017 at 4:30 pm
Inches I mean, not feet obviously.

EDIT: Here's a shot from Kalkriese, Germany where they are digging out a Roman-German battlefield. The artifacts are all found at or just below the border between the black topsoil and the red dirt underneath it -- that was 7 BC

https://www.landkreis-osnabrueck.de/sites/default/files/bildergalerie/k1600_grabung1016_1.jpg

http://www.kalkriese-varusschlacht.de/fileadmin/_processed_/csm_2015-02-16-Archaeologie_Schnitt_68a0493043.jpg

The archaeologists there told me the topsoil is about 1.5-2m deep, and was formed after the Romans left by later farming practices.

Ulenspiegel says: 11/30/2017 at 5:07 am
In the Kalkriese area, the farmers used sod planting ("Plaggendüngung"), i.e. they removed the top soil on large areas to improve the soil on their fields.

Therefore, Kalkriese is an example how NOT to do it.

alimbiquated says: 11/30/2017 at 5:35 am
I think the thickness of the topsoil in the area speaks for itself.

My point is that as Ron points out, there is a limited carrying capacity for the planet, but I don't really think we are there yet, because there are relatively simple methods available to make huge areas of the Earth's surface. Of course, even if it's possible, it isn't clear it will happen.

Ron Patterson says: 11/30/2017 at 11:57 am
there are relatively simple methods available to make huge areas of the Earth's surface.

That seems to be an incomplete sentence. Make huge areas of the Earth's surface what ? Desert? We sure can do that. We are doing more of that every year. Scrubland? We are doing that also by cutting down the forest and trying to make farmland out of it. After a few years the land will row nothing of value. That's happening in the Amazon right now.

There is nothing we can do to increase human habitual area without reducing the wild habitual area. That is what my post is all about. We are destroying every wild thing by destroying their habitat, by taking their habitat for ourselves.

alimbiquated says: 11/30/2017 at 12:50 pm
productive.

Your last paragraph is not correct. Much of the world is desert, and that desert could be much more productive than it is, given the right agriculture methods.

Whether that will actually happen is another question of course.

alimbiquated says: 11/29/2017 at 4:22 pm
Just a line of rocks on contour works too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCSYqUiI41w

The chinese are a lot farther down ths road.

http://www.topguilintravel.com/images/longsheng-travel-bg.jpg

But the Ehtiopians are doing their best to imitate the chinese

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CVSiR0mWsAAxhqi.jpg

The Kenyns too.

http://c8.alamy.com/comp/B7P41Y/africa-kenya-matiliku-ukambani-makueni-district-fertile-farming-country-B7P41Y.jpg

This would be great in East Tennessee, but they get their corn in a jar, as the old song goes.

GoneFishing says: 11/29/2017 at 4:11 pm
That very same first world country that donated the materials has plenty of homeless and large amounts of poor. It also has large amounts of empty buildings and huge amounts of food waste, yet they do not take care of their own. That is even a sadder situation as people freeze to death, starve, and die of simple preventable health problems in one of the richest countries in the world. Basic needs are not met and the governing bodies are constantly fighting to reduce the paltry benefits that are given. It's a country full of hate for their own people and hate back at the haters.
TonyMax says: 11/29/2017 at 4:42 pm
There's no inherent evolutionary advantage to caring for people you have no relation to. That's the real reason why all of these 'safety net' programs you describe are hated in the general sense and under attack as time marches on.
GoneFishing says: 11/29/2017 at 9:06 pm
Now Tony, we all know the public programs are under attack because of the greed and selfishness of people who already have too much money and stuff.
We all know it is the greed and the overconsumption that is causing the destruction of our environment and possibly the whole human race. That is a huge evolutionary disadvantage.
Helping, sharing and cooperating is the advantage. The selfish and greedy are like ticks sucking the world dry for their own personal benefit.
Fred Magyar says: 11/30/2017 at 2:51 pm
There's no inherent evolutionary advantage to caring for people you have no relation to.

That is absolute Bullshit!

http://www.sarahmathew.net/

Dr. Sarah Mathew

I study the evolution of human ultra-sociality and the role of culture in enabling it. I am especially interested in how humans evolved the capacity to cooperate with millions of genetically unrelated individuals, and how this links to the origins of moral sentiments, prosocial behavior, norms, and large-scale warfare. To address these issues, I combine formal modeling of the evolution of cooperation with fieldwork among the Turkana. The Turkana are an egalitarian pastoral society in East Africa who cooperate, including in costly inter-ethnic raids, with hundreds of other Turkana who are not kin nor close friends. Through systematic empirical studies in this unique ethnographic context, my research project here aims to provide a detailed understanding of the mechanisms underpinning cooperation and moral origins.

Survivalist says: 11/30/2017 at 10:53 pm
evolutionary advantage of caring for others
About 232,000,000 results (0.58 seconds)
https://tinyurl.com/y7wv5sez

This information is not exactly carved in a stone tablet and hidden on the dark side of the moon.

Caelan MacIntyre says: 11/29/2017 at 5:20 pm
Hi Ron,

I haven't read your good article just yet (although it is doubtful any of it will surprise me or add to what is already more or less understood), but just to mention that I recently listened to a podcast from Chris Martenson's site, Peak Prosperity, featuring William Rees from the University of BC

Two things about the podcast that stood out was that William was in fine form (articulate, clear, concise, passionate, 'deathly' serious, etc.); and the second was his mention of possibly fundamentally changing the natural system of Atlantic cod (fisheries), so that they may never recover. Not everything can simply reverse, and quickly enough, if they can, such as, say, with the depletion of the ozone layer, and when it involves all kinds of living systems– much, and the intricacies/complex interconnections, of which we are blissfully unaware of, despite some of our arrogant pretensions to the contrary (such as with regard to the avocation of most if not all forms of geoengineering)– it is very serious.

What concerns me also is how some people, such as on this site, can ostensibly claim a required greenwashed BAU from out of one side of their mouths, while on the other side, express grave concerns for the ecosystem. We cannot have it both ways.

To me, much greenwashed BAU is just swapping out different forms of rampant resource extraction, pollution and inequability for other forms.

The system, along with its 'power-politics', is still intact.

IOW, there is no real change.

Loren, assuming that's you, I am certain that radical decline, if not outright collapse, is already well underway, despite the obstinate mindlessness of some people. Just because some don't see something or want to see something doesn't mean it is not there.

My simple recommendation, especially for certain people WRT this deathwish-for-a-culture is to let go/ get out (and in the process, learn things like permaculture and local community resilience, and how our ancestors did some of it). Your comforts are much of an illusion (and predicated, for example, on natural draw-down).

islandboy says: 11/29/2017 at 6:46 pm
I knew you'd show up sooner or later and since you've always been critical of my support for renewables and EVs, let's bite.

"To me, much greenwashed BAU is just swapping out different forms of rampant resource extraction, pollution and inequability for other forms.

The system, along with its 'power-politics', is still intact.

IOW, there is no real change."

Are you saying that "there is no real change" going from corporate owned, centrally located, large scale, FF fired generators to small scale, individually or community owned, distributed renewable generators? If so, that's not what the FF and corporate generator class in Australia thinks. They have captured the Australian federal government and are fighting renewables as hard as they can.

Are you saying "there is no real change" going from ICE powered vehicles to EVs that, are perfectly happy to suck electrons from any source including renewable sources individually owned or owned by a co-op of which the vehicle owner is invested? That's not an opinion shared by the Koch brothers who are spending millions of dollars to try and paint EVs in a bad light in the eyes of the public.

Surely you realize that an individual with solar on their roof and an EV is giving a big middle finger to the status quo, including FF corporations and utilities who will no longer be able to feed at that individual's trough. In case you don't realize it, that is a very big disruption of "system, along with its 'power-politics'" and no, in case you haven't been listening, "The system, along with its 'power-politics'", will not be "still intact."

Now if you read my fairly long narrative further up, I hope the point I am trying to make does not escape you. That point is that there are millions, no lets make that billions of poor poorly educated folks who depend on things like industrial agriculture and the current status quo for the basic necessities of life, food, clothing and shelter. If the status quo collapses they are dead, let me say that again, dead! I'm all for dismantling the status quo and replacing it with something that is much kinder to all life on this pale blue dot we call home but, I shudder at the thought of millions or billions of human beings starving to death, just as I shudder at what we are doing to the biosphere. Can you see why I'm depressed right now?

Caelan MacIntyre says: 11/29/2017 at 7:59 pm
Alan,
This is my cameo appearance. LOL

There is no real change if we are still relying on the monstrosity that is the crony-capitalist plutarchy/government-big-biz symbiosis, such as for solar panels, etc. and/or what some misleadingly refer to as 'renewable'.

If you are in the biz– and I think you wrote hereon that you indeed are– then some might suggest, maybe even me, that you are, say, 'soft-shilling' and/or rationalizing for your product using POB as your platform, and maybe problematically skewing the narrative a little more towards a dystopic system that we should be getting the hell out of, while making preparations to do so, like learning how to do the basics in a local, resilient context so that we do not need industrial agro. The longer we rely on industrial anything– and as if it's somehow morally/ethically neutral– the harder/faster we will likely fall, maybe along something of a seneca curve.

We cannot eat solar panels and electricity is not a necessity, except to for the brainwashed and the brainwashers.
Attempting to play on people's heartstrings, such as about poor people in so-called undeveloped locales to sell a product they don't need and that would risk locking them– and others– into a certain ('Western') lifestyle, in some contexts, approaches contemptible, by the way.

You should already know how sociogeopoliticultural ideologies like Westernisation is foisted upon the global masses through physical, cultural, mental and intellectual colonialism, with the result often being wars and deaths to people and traditional ways of life. Just consider the Middle East right now. In the name of what? Oil and oligarchy?
You've said it yourself hereon that you have some kind of slavery in your family, yes? Well, many people are still slaves anyway, if with coats of white paint. Libya was in the news recently about that– slavery– incidentally.

If we want to do solar panels etc. the right, ethical ways, we need sea changes, such as that avoid slavery and privilege-by-gun, but I highly doubt we will manage them in time, and suspect that we are already long past that time.

That said, how do you feel now?

islandboy says: 11/29/2017 at 10:31 pm
I am not yet in the business of doing anything with solar PV so, as of right now I have no product that I am shilling for, soft or hard. I am in a business connected to entertainment if you must know. The entertainment business can by no means be classified as non-discretionary and recent technology has allowed far more people to compete with me so it will be necessary to get out of that at some point. How about viewing this as something I see as as worthwhile pursuit for the future of mankind, given my skill set and thus my advocating it as a worthwhile area for me to pursue a vocation in? I am not only advocating for solar PV because it's a field I can participate in but, because I think it can contribute a great deal to reductions in carbon emissions among other noble aspirations.

Are you going to start suggesting that I want to get into the business of manufacturing and selling EVs just because I am suggesting that large scale EV adoption would be a good thing? I ain't no Elon Musk if that's what your thinking. Now, if the shit hits the fan and motor fuels became really unobtainium, I might take a stab at an EV conversion business, a la Jack Rickard but, right now even Jack seems disillusioned with that pursuit, having posted only one new video since the middle of August and only two new blog posts since the last week of July. At any rate the necessary preconditions for such a business to be successful in an age of factory made EVs, do not exist.

I am with OFM on the point that some of your ideas for agriculture cannot adequately serve the needs of a rapidly growing population of 7.5 billion people. My dad who was a descendant of rebel runaway slaves, known in Jamaica as Maroons , was into agriculture and left me and my surviving sister a six acre homestead when he died. I can tell you agriculture ain't a walk in the park. It's damned hard work and carries all sorts of risks not faced by other pursuits (droughts, thieves, diseases pests etc.) . You seem to have some romantic view of agriculture that I do not share.

As for locking people in to a western lifestyle, that doesn't apply to Jamaica. The western lifestyle came with colonization and slavery. Do you think that people outside of the developed word should forgo electricity, computers, cell phones, the internet and other modern conveniences?

Despite all of that, the Caribbean has been bucking western culture for centuries. Trinidad and Tobago has their carnival and it's music and Jamaica has had as big an impact on western culture with our music (reggae and ska) as western culture has had on us. Even this past weekend, a dark skinned Jamaican woman sporting a huge afro, placed third in the Miss Universe pageant. The girl that won was from South Africa and could pass for Caucasian whether she is or not and I didn't see any other black women in the contest sporting an afro hairstyle (not that I watched it).

When it comes to some things, that train has already left the station. No point in romanticizing about what could have been. I'd rather focus on what small steps we can take to improve things in the here and now, while moving us to a more sustainable future. I will probably remain depressed until the new year. Probably more to with not having any immediate family around for "the festive season" than anything else. Maybe the new year will bring some good news on the renewable/sustainability front! That would cheer me up!

Hightrekker says: 11/29/2017 at 10:40 pm
Islandboy–
After being in Central America for quite a while, and that heavy Catholic noose around everyones neck, it was so liberating to get out to the islands.
Lets Party Mon!
islandboy says: 11/30/2017 at 3:17 am
Now you're talking! We in the Caribbean know how to party! I wouldn't be surprised if we woke up the morning after the collapse and said, "Collapse? What collapse? We were too busy partying to notice" 😉

Having said that, Trinidad is heavily influenced by catholicism, their carnival being associated with the catholic observance of Lent. I don't see any evidence of the Trinis (as they are known in the islands) taking the admonitions of their various religious leaders too seriously. Hell! I've never been to Trinidad carnival but, I hear it's one wild party!

On the other hand, Trinidad should have some long term concerns about what they are going to do after Oil and Gas production fall below consumption and they have to start importing hydrocarbons. What if either prices are too high or supplies are limited? What if prices collapse due to lack of demand as Seba suggests will happen after EVS and solar begin to dominate transport and electricity generation?

GoneFishing says: 11/30/2017 at 8:22 am
So how is that wind farm coming along?

https://www.ustda.gov/news/press-releases/2017/ustda-advances-wind-power-generation-jamaica-through-us-solutions

islandboy says: 11/30/2017 at 9:04 am
Way too early to say. The article dated October 4, 2017 says this:

"The feasibility study will evaluate the viability of installing the wind farm, which would represent one of the first offshore wind installations in Jamaica and the greater Caribbean region."

I expect the feasibility study is going to take months and I would expect them to do some detailed analysis of the offshore wind resource in the process. It is good that this study is being done so soon after two devastating hurricanes have hit the region. Should keep hurricanes very much in the picture.

Dated

GoneFishing says: 11/30/2017 at 11:01 am
Looking at some Caribbean buoy data it looks like wind would be a good source of power for the islands.
Beside the wind, the island has about 54 billion kwh/day of sunlight falling on it. That is more than ten times the total energy production per year for the island. Energy is not a problem, how the energy is generated is the problem.
Cover less than 0.1 percent of the island with solar panels and make up the difference with wind power.
islandboy says: 11/30/2017 at 4:26 pm
I have done some numbers in terms of what it would take to power the island entirely with renewables, mostly solar. Not impossible but the technocrats, one of whom is a college classmate of mine, cannot wrap their head around 100% renewable electricity!

Incidentally, I came across a video presentation on Youtube (with a really annoying backing track) that at about 3 minutes in contains the following text:

"Seba's forecasts are predicated on the assumption that the cost of generating and storing electricity will continue to fall – to the point where just about all generation will be solar by 2030. But electricity production would only have to increase by 18 percent in the US to cope with a complete switch to EVs, he said"

That 18% figure squares quite nicely with some back of the envelope calculations I have done.

GoneFishing says: 11/30/2017 at 4:36 pm
The choice is to transistion or fail.
OFM says: 12/01/2017 at 12:14 pm
I've made good friends with a couple of guys from Jamaica who have friends and family here that have managed to get their permanent paperwork taken care of.

Unfortunately it doesn't look as if they will ever be able to get permanent resident status. They're older guys, and about as mellow and fun people to be around as I have ever met. They come up for an extended family visit every fall, which just HAPPENS to be the time of year local farmers need a lot of extra help, lol.

As soon as I'm finished with family duties, I'm going down to spend a month with them. 😉

Will be spending some money on food and utilities and a few new nice things for them of course, because while they're friends, they're not well off.

Hightrekker says: 11/29/2017 at 10:31 pm
Bottom line:
It is really hard to face the extinction of your species, no matter what reality presents to you.
GoneFishing says: 11/30/2017 at 8:31 am
What has been highly disturbing is watching the natural world be run over and steadily destroyed.
Fred Magyar says: 11/30/2017 at 9:52 am
We cannot eat solar panels and electricity is not a necessity, except to for the brainwashed and the brainwashers.

Than do the world a favor and unplug yourself from all sources of electricity! At least we here won't have to read your fantasies!

BTW there are plenty of people who understand that the current capitalist system is not the answer, read Kate Raeworth's, Donut Economics for starters.

Modern humans could no more live without electricity in the 21st century than they could live without food and water. Try living without refrigeration in any city in the world. You would cause massive starvation in a few days. Try providing medical care to an urban population without electricity.

You have to be completely delusional to suggest that electricity is not a necessity!

Caelan MacIntyre says: 11/30/2017 at 9:48 pm
That's all irrelevant to my point which still stands– especially when the system is destroying our planet. We have lived with electricity for a relative split second of our existence as a species on this planet.
Besides, if we're not treating the planet properly, do we even deserve electricity and its conveniences? I think not.

And then there are assorted uses for electricity, some being more questionable as priorities than others.

Electric car versus fridge?

FWIW, I have personally lived without refrigeration for months in a major city, at least at home after shopping at the grocery store LOL, but also in the country– more hard-core.

If your local community especially is growing and processing its own food, then it's easy.

There's pickling, drying, fermenting, spicing/salting, alcohol, etc., and natural cool-storage, such as root cellars and simple cooling-by-evaporation systems.

There's also 'eating as you go'. Other animals do that, and I've never heard of an animal that needs a fridge or electricity, have you? Maybe your cat at home, but even Meow Mix can last outside the fridge, yes?

But some of us have to actually help make the changes, such as to the narrative, and limit the cling to some kinds of BAU narratives and fantasies.

Do it for Mother Earth, Fred. Or me. Or Harvey Weinstein or whoever/whatever motivates you. Coral.

Obviously, we can't just turn off the lights and fridges overnight, but there are plenty of ways to manage, maintain and consume food that don't require a fridge. So if we can't just turn off the lights and fridges overnight, maybe we should start talking more about how to live without them and/or with greater resilience.

But even if the juice stays on forevermore, some juiceless skills and knowledge are great to learn, have and apply.

BTW, I just watched this documentary on rare earths– the apparently highly-polluting stuff that's supposed to help power, until they run out, all these new and relatively-useless electrical gadgets now and in the future to get off of those other pollutants.

Hightrekker says: 11/29/2017 at 7:53 pm
but just to mention that I recently listened to a podcast from Chris Martenson's site, Peak Prosperity, featuring William Rees from the University of BC

Highly recommended.
And I'm not a fan of some of Martenson's guests.

Caelan MacIntyre says: 11/29/2017 at 8:09 pm
I came across the podcast indirectly via another site, but do sometimes run into Chris' material. He seems good at interviewing and is easy to follow in videos.
OFM says: 11/29/2017 at 7:59 pm
This post is going to be a gold mine for me, because it relates directly to so much of what I'm working on for publication in book form if I ever manage to finish it to my satisfaction. Here's hoping it attracts over a thousand comments, lol! I'm especially interested in comments that dispute my own, because those are the ones enable me to understand my own blind spots. 😉

Now so far, nobody has said anything about what I will refer to as the SECOND key fact that one must understand to understand evolution. Hoyle missed the first one altogether, making a total fool of himself, although he was a brilliant scientist, one of the top men in HIS field, his mistake being that he failed to understand that evolution BUILDS on it's PAST " accomplishments".

The second key fact I am hereby pointing out is that while evolution creates new life forms that reproduce to fill any and all available niches, there's no GUIDANCE involved, no overall PLAN, no GOD in charge, if you wish to put it that way.

Evolution is characterized in large part by parsimony, by being conservative in the use of resources. Animals that don't have use for claws don't have claws like tigers, lol, and animals that don't eat grass out in the fields don't have digestive systems like COWS. Evolution creates organisms that are "good at" taking advantage of whatever resources are available, WITHOUT REGARD ANY FUTURE CONSEQUENCES because there is NO LONG TERM PLAN. Behavioral BRAKES that aren't needed don't evolve, lol, and countless things that would be extremely useful, like eyes in the back of our heads, which would keep us from being attacked from the rear, don't often evolve either, because .. well because of more factors than I have any inclination to cover at this minute. Half of the SHORT answer is that eyes in the back of our heads would cost us more in terms of sacrificing something else than they would gain for us. The other half of the SHORT answer is that since pure chance plays such a big role . the odds are astronomically high against it happening anyway.

This a comment/ rant, not a BOOK. The BOOK is in the works, and will be available free to member of this forum who may want to read it and point out shortcomings in it before I publish it, most likely for free on the net. I'm not so arrogant as to think anybody will PAY for it, lol.

Dead ends, blind alleys, and death, at the individual level, and or at the species level, means absolutely NOTHING to "Mother Nature" because she is not sentient, she's not moral, she's not even ALIVE in the usual sense. She's just an artifact, a tool, that we naked apes have invented in our efforts to understand reality.

What I'm getting at, since She IS parsimonious, is that She does not provide brakes where none are needed.
Sometimes things do evolve that prove to be useful under new circumstances, but when this happens, it's just a lucky accident for the creature involved. If for instance a creature evolves a forelimb capable of grasping a branch, so that it can climb better, lol, later on the ability to GRASP something MAY come in very handy, because it sets the stage for that creature being able to grasp a stone which can be used as a tool or weapon. This does NOT mean the creature WILL eventually discover the use of tools and weapons. It DOES mean the probability of such evolution is vastly enhanced. There's NO PLANNING INVOLVED . except in the minds of deists who accept the reality of evolution while also retaining the concept of a God or gods or some guiding force of some sort.

IF the need arises for BRAKES, well then, die off, or even extinction, takes care of the problem. If a given species eats only a given plant, and that plant goes extinct, Mother Nature does not grieve for either the plant, nor the species that feeds exclusively upon it,which very likely also goes extinct. She doesn't even consciously keep score, as indifferently as a hired bookkeeper keeps books for a client he has never met and will never meet. She does however inadvertently create a RECORD of historical "scores" , which we can read. It's the fossil record.

It's rather amusing that professional biologists go around talking about human stupidity as if there is something inherently WRONG with people, as if we are collectively DEFECTIVE. We are what we are because we are final product ( up until today ) of our own evolutionary history. We're as " good " or "well designed "as we are evolved to be, like all other living creatures.

Engineers build in safety margins, and add features that may be useful, under certain circumstances, when they design things, because they DO work with and from PRECONCEIVED PLANS. Mother Nature doesn't make plans, she just deals and redeals the cards, over and over, and will continue to do so until all life on this planet perishes which won't be until the sun expands sufficiently to destroy the last vestiges of life on it.

We are NOT something different from the rest of biological creation, we do NOT operate under different rules, we aren't on some sort of fucking pedestal, separate from the rest of the biosphere. THAT whole crock of shit sort of thinking is one of the cornerstones of kinds of the thinking that some of the regulars here like to make fun of, such as religion, nationalism, racism, etc.

A biologist who talks about humanity as if humanity SHOULD BE EXPECTED to display a hive like consciousness has his head up his ass. NO. NO. No.

We have succeeded,basically for no other reason that accident in the last analysis, to the point we compete mostly with each other, rather than other species.

The evolved PROGRAMS hard wired into our brains that drive our behavior DO NOT include much in the way of built in brakes, because BRAKES HAVE COSTS. If we over populate, if we use up critical resources on which we depend for our survival, and perish, there's NOBODY who gives a shit.. other than some of us who are aware of the fact that we ARE in overshoot. Mother Nature is INCAPABLE of giving a shit.

The whole fucking idea that we are SOMETHING SPECIAL was probably originated by the first priests and their allies. It's an idea that has little to do with any discussion based on real SCIENCE within the context of understanding our own overshoot .

Now none of this rant should be interpreted as indicating I don't know and understand that humans are tribal creatures, that we are social creatures, and that we survive and thrive because we DO live and work cooperatively. The thing is , we survive and thrive as COMPETING communities, tribes, and nations, rather than as a SINGLE global community. Wolf packs compete. Prides of lions compete. Bands of chimps compete. We humans compete with each other. Talking as if we are DEFECTIVE because we behave this way is a waste of time.

When the shit hits the fan hard enough and fast enough, we do sometimes cooperate with our former enemies, at least temporarily.Old enemies can be new allies.

It's at least THEORETICALLY POSSIBLE that we can cooperate as a SPECIES, at the global level, in order to solve some or maybe even most of the problems associated with our own overshoot. We have cooperated before at levels up to and including the global level. In WWII, most of the developed countries of the world were involved as partisans on one or the other side. We cooperate to some extent at the global level now, in economic terms, and in terms of our physical security, as for instance in arms control agreements.

But just because it's theoretically possible that we can cooperate at the species level globally doesn't mean it's going to happen. I don't think there's any real likelihood of it happening, although alliances consisting of the various major economic and military powers do exist and will continue to exist and some of these alliances will prove to be critically important in determining the course of future history.

GoneFishing says: 11/29/2017 at 9:17 pm
"A biologist who talks about humanity as if humanity SHOULD BE EXPECTED to display a hive like consciousness has his head up his ass. NO. NO. No." Do you mean E. O. Wilson has his head up his ass?
Fred Magyar says: 11/30/2017 at 6:17 am
Do you mean E. O. Wilson has his head up his ass?

Edward O. Wilson's New Take on Human Nature

The eminent biologist argues in a controversial new book that our Stone Age emotions are still at war with our high-tech sophistication

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/edward-o-wilsons-new-take-on-human-nature-

In his newly published The Social Conquest of the Earth -- the 27th book from this two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize -- Wilson argues the nest is central to understanding the ecological dominance not only of ants, but of human beings, too. Ants rule the microhabitats they occupy, consigning other insects and small animals to life at the margins; humans own the macroworld, Wilson says, which we have transformed so radically and rapidly that we now qualify as a kind of geological force. How did we and the ants gain our superpowers? By being super-cooperators, groupies of the group, willing to set aside our small, selfish desires and I-minded drive to join forces and seize opportunity as a self-sacrificing, hive-minded tribe. There are plenty of social animals in the world, animals that benefit by living in groups of greater or lesser cohesiveness. Very few species, however, have made the leap from merely social to eusocial, "eu-" meaning true. To qualify as eusocial, in Wilson's definition, animals must live in multigenerational communities, practice division of labor and behave altruistically, ready to sacrifice "at least some of their personal interests to that of the group." It's tough to be a eusocialist. Wouldn't you rather just grab, gulp and go? Yet the payoffs of sustained cooperation can be huge. Eusociality, Wilson writes, "was one of the major innovations in the history of life," comparable to the conquest of land by aquatic animals, or the invention of wings or flowers. Eusociality, he argues, "created super­organisms, the next level of biological complexity above that of organisms." The spur to that exalted state, he says, was always a patch of prized real estate, a focal point luring group members back each day and pulling them closer together until finally they called it home. "All animal species that have achieved eusociality, without exception, at first built nests that they defended from enemies," Wilson writes. An anthill. A beehive. A crackling campfire around which the cave kids could play, the cave elders stay and the buffalo strips blacken all day. Trespassers, of course, would be stoned on sight.

As is evident by some of the comments on this thread, while the hive may be able to display collective intelligence, the individual ants can still be pretty dumb! Do check out the link I posted to 'The Mind's I' chapter 11 Prelude to Ant Fugue.

GoneFishing says: 11/30/2017 at 8:16 am
If we can't cooperate globally then the idea of Half-Earth is a farce.
Fred Magyar says: 11/30/2017 at 9:18 am
The idea is still sound! If humans have not yet evolved to the point that they are able to include the whole globe as a part of their hive Well, that's a separate issue and may indeed mean that we are collectively fucked! Because not enough of us have reached that particular point in our evolution.

As George Carlin once said: "The Planet is fine, it's the people that are fucked"

GoneFishing says: 11/30/2017 at 12:18 pm
An idea is sound only if it can be implemented, otherwise it is just a bunch of sugars turned to heat and in this case trees turned to wastepaper.

My point was not that E.O. Wilson is wrong, but that he would not have presented such a point if he did not think it possible or even probable. It was OFM that was the one saying it was not possible, which is a rather narrow view of humanity. Humanity cooperates on large scale right now.

Looking at the update of Limits to Growth I get the feeling that the flattening out of some of the parameters (energy, industrial output) may be misinterpreted. The same thing would happen if an energy and industrial transistion were occurring.
The key question is what does a transistion look like initially?

A field to a forest transistion looks a lot like field, then some bushes with a few small trees, then eventually almost all trees. Originally the trees are hardly there at all and don't seem to be having much effect as their leaves smoother a lot of plant life around them and they take up more and more of the solar energy that used to reach the ground. It starts small then spreads to complete takeover.

An energy and industrial transistion goes hand in hand with a social/governmental transistion. It looks small and scattered at first but steadily fills in even despite the resistance of the legacy systems. Key to the fast takeover is the weakening of the previous growth and it's demise leaving easy space for the takeover.

For example, I have a kitchen ceiling light fixture. It has three bulb positions. I had replaced the three 60 watt incandescent bulbs years ago with a 100 watt CFL (running actual 25 watts).
Last night the CFL started flickering so I pulled it and it had burn marks on the base of the bulb. The CFL bulb has now been replaced by two 60 watt equivalent LED bulbs which together use only 16 watts and provide more light than the CFL.
Also the LED bulbs may never have to be replaced in my lifetime. 180 watts to 16 watts and no more replacement, that is high ground transistion! Now $4 replaces over $500 on the user end and eliminates large amounts of pollution.

The power cost and economics have overshadowed the legacy instrument in an inexorable way. The death of an individual instrument allowed the replacement by a superior one.
I think that effect has been happening all across the world in many areas of energy use and industrial process for decades. This effect may have been interpreted as a reduction in energy and industrial output while it is really mostly a transistion in process.

So how do we get a fast takeover? Strand and remove the old legacy assets and systems plus do not replace dead systems with the same system. The action is harsh, but that is how it is done.

I will know we are on the right course when I see those large glass buildings being stripped of their components, their glass re-used, their steel reused and recycled, their wiring removed as they are removed. Why and how do we put up R2 buildings that soak up huge amounts of energy for heating and cooling? They need to go now. Passenger vehicles that get less than 150 pMPG need to go now and no passenger vehicle that gets below 400 pMPG should be built ever again. There are many inefficient, harmful and problematical systems that could be removed and changed.

Trash the old ways now and insert better ways, ones that work longer with less harm. Make new systems that heal soil and nature in general. The collapse is occurring now, take advantage of it by putting in superior systems that allow E.O. Wilson's Half-Earth idea to flourish, not finish.

Personally, until a lot of the old stupid harmful systems are put aside we can't see clearly if a fast collapse is at hand or not. Maybe if we just stop following bad and stupid we can ease off our consumption of the planet and reverse some of the major problems we face. There may be no real need to go through a grand scale collapse and huge loss of species.

Fred Magyar says: 11/30/2017 at 2:40 pm
Yeah, I have to agree with most of what you said.

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."

― R. Buckminster Fuller

OFM says: 11/30/2017 at 6:20 pm
""It was OFM that was the one saying it was not possible, which is a rather narrow view of humanity. "

BULLSHIT.

Here's what I actually said in a comment upthread. It was posted a day previous to your comment, lol.

"It's at least THEORETICALLY POSSIBLE that we can cooperate as a SPECIES, at the global level, in order to solve some or maybe even most of the problems associated with our own overshoot. We have cooperated before at levels up to and including the global level. In WWII, most of the developed countries of the world were involved as partisans on one or the other side. We cooperate to some extent at the global level now, in economic terms, and in terms of our physical security, as for instance in arms control agreements. "

Perhaps I ought to lecture you a little on the meaning of the word EXPECT within the context I used it, which I think is obvious enough to anybody who WANTS to understand. In this context, expect means (or not ) that cooperation will happen spontaneously, or with only moderate incentives.

I don't think global level cooperation will happen, IF it happens, until the incentives to cooperate are OBVIOUS and overwhelming, when it comes to really changing the way we do things. I don't think any competent biologist will argue with this position, speaking in the broadest terms, painting with the so called broad brush.

We do after all have a few thousand years of known history that indicates that we are as apt to fight as cooperate, lol.

When the shit hits the fan hard enough, id it also hits slowly enough for us wake up , I EXPECT ( PREDICT ) that WE WILL COOPERATE on the grand scale, at least up to the nation state level, in most nations, and frequently at the international level, and MAYBE even at the global level.

OFM says: 11/30/2017 at 3:40 pm
Hi GF,

I must admit I'm a little behind in reading E O Wilson, who is as capable a scientist as any in his field, and head and shoulders above almost all the rest, in my opinion. He's also one of the best writers ever in his field, probably THE best writer in biology in my personal opinion.

But so far as a I know, and I have read all of his older books, unless I'm mistaken, he would basically agree with me, because I am, as I interpret his work, AGREEING WITH HIM.

There's a HELL OF DIFFERENCE between EXPECTING people to cooperate on the grand scale, and believing they are capable of doing so.I believe we are capable of cooperating on the grand scale, given sufficient motivation to do so, and have said so already in this thread. I don't EXPECT us to cooperate with people we see as outsiders and enemies, but given new circumstances, new conditions, new problems, new fears, we can and sometimes do find new common ground, and make friends with former enemies.

I'm ready to bet the farm that I'm WITH E O WILSON, rather than AGAINST HIM.

Nuance matters.

To me at least, lol.

A couple of days back in another thread, you lectured me, telling me to THINK GLOBALLY, as if to imply I 'm unaware that most of the people in the world are still desperately poor. I have never said that most of humanity is well off. I have never IMPLIED that most of humanity is well off.

What I DID say, is that FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH, quoting myself, that there is a sound case to be made for the trickle down effect, and that a substantial number of even very poor people humanity HAVE ALREADY benefited greatly from economic and technological progress.

Hundreds of millions of desperately poor people are benefiting today from progress made in fields ranging from public health to industrial agriculture to renewable energy , etc. Hundreds of millions of very poor people are making relatively fast economic progress by some measures, for instance in the rate at which they are able to make use of at least some electricity, even if it's only a single light powered by a battery recharged by a small solar panel.

The less you have, the greater the marginal value of anything new you are able to get.

Just one rechargeable light is worth a LOT to a person who has no other option than perhaps a candle or kerosene lamp or a home made torch.

Incidentally I can remember being told by my grand parents that back when they were kids, it wasn't at all usual to literally light a ( corn ) shuck to provide some light so as to make a quick run to the outdoor privy or take care of some other after dark chore. They had kerosene, but it was considered wasteful to use it unnecessarily.

Things can and do get better sometimes, even on the global scale, lol.

GoneFishing says: 11/30/2017 at 4:51 pm
E.O. Wilson would not have written the book Half Earth if he did not think that people could and would cooperate on a grand scale. I don't think he was just blowing wind. Your statement was a direct affront to him and many others.

I have not read his latest book yet " The Social Conquest of Earth" which relates to this subject.

See mine and Fred's comments above.

OFM says: 11/30/2017 at 6:57 pm
" Your statement was a direct affront to him and many others."

Bullshit again. You're deliberately twisting my words into something I didn't say.

You brought up his name, and you have put words in his mouth, as well as mine, in a manner of speaking.

I will say it again. There's a DIFFERENCE between EXPECTING or PREDICTING cooperation between large and diverse groups of people EXCEPT when circumstances leave the various groups little or no choice, and they have COME TO UNDERSTAND that the only real option they have IS to cooperate.

ONCE various competing groups or societies come to understand that they have little or nothing in the way of viable choice other than cooperation, well then I PREDICT OR EXPECT them to cooperate.

I believe my position is entirely consistent with E O Wilson's thinking and beliefs, speaking in general terms.

If you want to play word games,I'm ready, because it's TRAINING as well as entertainment for me. I need all the practice I can get when it comes to making my arguments clear before I go out on my own with my own book and web site .. EVENTUALLY.

The audience here is sophisticated enough to understand nuance, lol.

Well, MOST of the audience here , anyway.

GoneFishing says: 11/30/2017 at 7:11 pm
You ask for opposing opinions then you get nasty and personal and show no sign of wanting to learn or discuss anything, just shove your ideas. Since you apparently are not capable of dealing with opinions or thoughts other than your own, I will cease interacting with you. Plus you are always yelling in your comments, very rude.

Here is what you actually said ""A biologist who talks about humanity as if humanity SHOULD BE EXPECTED to display a hive like consciousness has his head up his ass. NO. NO. No."

OFM says: 12/01/2017 at 11:06 am
I want opposing opinions , and I'm always on the lookout for new facts. I do NOT want my words twisted into pretzels so that they appear to mean something diametrically opposite to what I actually said, by taking them out of context.

I think you are more interested in finding personal fault with me than you are in actually discussing facts, possibilities, and ideas.

I use a lot of caps, but seldom more than five or six words at a time, because caps are a lot quicker for me than taking time to use italics or bold.

I'm not presenting a paper for publication here, lol. I'm just participating in a conversation. If you want to take offense, feel free, it's still somewhat of a free country.

I

OFM says: 11/30/2017 at 7:00 pm
" Your statement was a direct affront to him and many others."

Bullshit again. You're deliberately twisting my words into something I didn't say.

You brought up Wilson , and you have put words in his mouth, as well as mine, in a manner of speaking.

I will say it again.

There's a DIFFERENCE between EXPECTING or PREDICTING cooperation between large and diverse groups of people under ordinary circumstances versus under new and compelling circumstances.

IF AND WHEN circumstances leave various groups little or no choice other than cooperation, , and they have COME TO UNDERSTAND that the only real option they have IS cooperation , well then .

I expect or predict that such groups WILL cooperate, sometimes, maybe even almost every time.

I believe my position is entirely consistent with E O Wilson's thinking and beliefs, speaking in general terms.

The audience here is sophisticated enough to understand nuance, lol.

Well, MOST of the audience here , anyway.

Understanding is tough for those who prefer NOT to understand.

alimbiquated says: 12/01/2017 at 4:15 pm
This is pretty much nonsense. People are very different than other animals because they get ideas in their head and follow them. That's the secret to our success -- we change our game plan all the time instead of being stuck in a single niche like most species. It's always hard to guess which ideas are going to work out, but societies choose -- so to speak -- whether to destroy themselves or not.

America has been choosing self destruction for several decades, and the eschatology our wacky creed planted in our minds seems very attractive, especially to old farts -- the alternative is to try something different.

Many societies have shown themselves to be resilient an sustainable. America has a colonial mentality that doesn't support that, even when it's obvious. My grandmother was born in Kansas and when she talked about the Dust Bowl she would shake her head and say, "I always told them not to cut down those cottonwoods -- they were the only thing keeping the farm from being blown away". Now they're depleting the aquifier in Kansas by planting maize for diesel. So the desert will continue to spread.

But the Japanese aren't like that at all. They've been planting trees for centuries. They don't have much choice, because the hills aren't very stable there. They'll get through.

And the Sahel Zone, the world's worst and poorest place, is changing as well. They've started replanting. A lot of them will survive.

Crazy hippies like this may do better than you think. Civilizations come and go, the species won't die for a while.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FHMNke5ppE

Root hog or die, as my father used to say. You can't imagine a world without Walmart, but it isn't the end of the world.

Another thought -- The Tasmanians. They were probably the wolrd's most primitive culture. They were cut off from the very old Australian mainland after the Ice Ages, and seems to have even forgotten fishhooks one of mankind's oldest technologies. But they had their ways, and they survived.

Hightrekker says: 11/29/2017 at 10:29 pm
A panda who was "really, really, ridiculously good at sex" brought the species back from the brink of extinction, but things are still weird

https://boingboing.net/2017/11/29/panda-bangers.html

Hickory says: 11/29/2017 at 11:32 pm
thank you Ron for this posting. I am in complete agreement with you on this.
nothing more important. it is a bizarre and tragic spectacle to behold, and to participate in.
what a poor use of such an incredible biosphere.
Gene Orleans says: 11/29/2017 at 11:55 pm
Many people from the looks of it here try to deal with the crises we face as a species and civilization the same way as myself. I spend much time here in front of modern electronic gadgetry. It's useful in distracting the mind from a diseased dying world along with a way to pass the time while waiting on my Lord and Savior to return to cleanse all the wickedness Satan has saturated humans with. Yes this is truly a sick sad world we live in now. Matthew 13:38-40.
Ron Patterson says: 11/30/2017 at 7:51 am
It's useful in distracting the mind from a diseased dying world along with a way to pass the time while waiting on my Lord and Savior to return to cleanse all the wickedness Satan has saturated humans with.

You are likely to be waiting a very long time. Religious stupidity makes the problem worse, never better.

Watcher says: 11/29/2017 at 11:55 pm
Didn't know this was here.

1. Any quotes of someone's book on collapse and how collapse happens based on history . . . all worthless. There is no history.

2) There is no history because there has never been 7 billion before. There has never been collapse with nuclear weapons involved before. There has never been collapse with the maggot and fly total in the atmosphere from 6.5 billion corpses before.

3) Chinese oil consumption lags US per capita and they are striving mightily to correct that, as they should. When per capita consumption growth becomes difficult, they HAVE to take oil from someone else. That someone else's population starts to starve for lack of food production or transport. They object to the theft of "their" oil. War. They must. War or starve.

4) Consider Japan. Consider the relations between China and Japan. Japan cries out . . . you're taking this oil to improve your country's standard of living and you are starving our country to death to do this. How can you find morality in this? China will have no trouble whatsoever contriving morality in this.

5) Simply that. When there isn't enough to go around, no one will quietly accept inadequate amounts. Nor should they. All other stuff about global warming and debt and sacrificing lifestyle for someone else is just so much bizarre delusion. You got too little to live, you kill whoever took it.

Dennis Coyne says: 11/30/2017 at 9:57 am
Hi Watcher,

If you were correct there would be constant World War, most humans realize that conflict does not always lead to a positive outcome.

In an anarchic world things might play out as you imagine, we don't live in such a World.

Most people will do all they can to prevent anarchy.

Watcher says: 11/30/2017 at 11:18 am
Ahh so only evil people resort to war.

Haven't you noticed only good guys win?

Survivalist says: 12/01/2017 at 8:33 am
'Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning' by Timothy Snyder is quite good. If you're not into the minutia of east European history circa WW2 then just cut to the conclusion. 'Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin' is good too.

Here's an interview with Timothy Snyder if you want to get a taste.
Will this be the catalyst for the next Holocaust?
http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/12/09/what-will-cause-the-next-holocaust/

Hightrekker says: 11/30/2017 at 11:35 am
Almost anyone, I suppose, can call himself or herself an anarchist, if he or she believed that the society could be managed without the state. And by the state -- I don't mean the absence of any institutions, the absence of any form of social organisation -- the state really refers to a professional apparatus of people who are set aside to manage society, to preëmpt the control of society from the people. So that would include the military, judges, politicians, representatives who are paid for the express purpose of legislating, and then an executive body that is also set aside from society. So anarchists generally believe that, whether as groups or individuals, people should directly run society.
-Murray Bookchin

Anarchism is founded on the observation that since few men are wise enough to rule themselves, even fewer are wise enough to rule others.
-Edward Abbey

Dennis Coyne says: 12/02/2017 at 2:09 pm
Hi Hightrekker,

I define anarchy as without government.

Let's assume for a moment a World without any governments at all.

Let's also assume there at 7.4 billion people in the World.

I just don't see how that works. The World is not a perfect place, but it is far from clear that a World without any government(s) would be an improvement.

When some one comes up with a plan that is appealing to the majority of citizens in some nation, perhaps such a form of non-government will be instituted.

Caelan MacIntyre says: 12/02/2017 at 8:50 pm
Collapse Dynamics: Initial Conditions, Media Manipulation and The Short-Circuiting of Consensuality

Hi Dennis,

I see anarchy, if it is understood correctly, as potentially having government if it is optional/consensual/legitimate.

For example, if I want you to represent me until which time as I say otherwise , then you can if you wish .

I also see anarchy as potentially 'hierarchical', or at least pseudohierarchical, if it is chosen freely.

So, for example, if I want you to tie me to a bed and have your way with me as your 'slave' if you wish , until which time as I or you opt out , then that is still ok. (fans face with hand)

It is about consensuality and a large part of the whole idea behind media manipulation of the masses is to 'short-circuit' consensuality– IOW, to make the masses consent to what they might not have normally consented to.

At the moment, I do not consent, for example, to what we call 'government' to take my money, or 'skim my labor', such as in the form of taxation. It is an 'initial condition' (think the butterfly effect) that can cascade, and seems to have cascaded, over time into dangerous, 'hurricane', territory. I mention this angle also to hopefully appeal to your apparent understanding and appreciation of physics and physical dynamics over time.

Right now, there is software available, ostensibly to support government governing consensually, called Loomio . There are likely others as well.

Dennis Coyne says: 12/03/2017 at 10:48 am
Hi Caelan,

See free rider problem. If taxes are not required, then very little is collected. So essentially, not taxes is roughly equal to no government.

How do legal agreements work in this no coercion society?

When there are disagreements how are they settled?

Come up with a system which works in a World with 7.5 billion and maybe someone will pay attention.

Caelan MacIntyre says: 12/03/2017 at 10:42 pm
Hi Dennis,

Your assertion does not necessarily stand to reason and is just an assertion without support. I could flip/modify it this way:

If taxes were consensual, then people would likely feel a greater sense of belonging to their locales and how they are shaped and so give them freely and as they see fit.
Consensual tax collection could be viewed as part of the modus operandi of actual government, rather than as a kind of large-scale centralized armed coercive mob, such that it appears.

See also here . I'll paraphrase some of it for you (again)

" if economics is to become an instrument of freedom and prosperity instead of an instrument of statism, then there are certain fundamental fallacies that must be continually challenged and discredited. Chief among these is the persistent non sequitur from externality to coercion -- that is, the bogus conclusion that coercion is a proper means to solve problems involving economic externalities.

One of the most blatant examples of this non sequitur occurs in discussions of the 'free rider problem' and the alleged solution of government provision of so-called 'public goods'. This is a particularly insidious economic theory that bears a great deal of the responsibility of derailing economics into the ditch of statism." ~ Ben O'Neill

A system that works for many more people, rather than a handful of elites, would appear to be a system that truly echoes what the people actually want, rather than what they are forced to.

islandboy says: 11/30/2017 at 5:08 am
On the matter of carrying capacity, I have a minor quibble with some of the ideas presented here. Let me start by outlining my understanding of what is being said about carrying capacity.

"So for many millions of years, the terrestrial vertebrate biomass remained at about two hundred million tons, give or take"

So that lays a base line for carrying capacity but, unnatural selection, the selection of higher output varieties of crops or genetic engineering of crops would have raised the carrying capacity and I suggest, that increased carrying capacity would be sustainable indefinitely. The use of fertilizer, primarily organic types, if done in a sustainable way and by that I mean, returning animal and human waste streams to the soil, would also result in a more or less permanent increase in carrying capacity. So far, I've outlined two methods that humans could have used to positively influence carrying capacity more or less permanently.

The big change in carrying capacity comes with the FF age and the industrial revolution, first with the advent of mechanization and then with the Haber-Bosch process. A quick Internet search to refresh my memory of what the Haber-Bosch process entails, reveals that it is the chemical synthesis of ammonia (NH3) from nitrogen and hydrogen. Herein lies the basis for the connection between the petroleum industry and fertilizer industries and by extension carrying capacity. However, if we have enough excess energy we can easily get nitrogen from the atmosphere and hydrogen from water though I'm not sure how well that would work at a industrial scale at a global level.

So between the manufacture of fertilizers and the use of diesel powered machinery in farming, we have seen a huge increase in the ability to produce food. Ostensibly this ability can only last as long as the NG used to obtain hydrogen at an industrial scale and the petroleum to fuel the farm machines. However, the University of Minnesota has a Wind to Nitrogen Fertilizer project that aims to use excess wind power to manufacture ammonia so, it may well be that, if sufficient amounts of renewable energy can be harnessed, the manufacture of nitrogen fertilizers could be extended way beyond the end of the petroleum age.

That is the basis for my minor quibble. Obviously, fossil hydrocarbons have allowed us to increase the carrying capacity of the planet in a way that can only last as long as the finite hydrocarbon reserves do. Might it not be the case that, a transition to renewable energy on a massive scale would allow a more or less sustainable increase in the carrying capacity of the planet above and beyond the 200 million tons of terrestrial vertebrate biomass that existed 10,000 years ago? I would argue that, from the standpoint of energy, renewable energy has the potential to yield a far more sustainable increase in carrying capacity than fossil energy has. What the level of that carrying capacity is would require a fair amount of academic research.

I fully concede that there are all sorts of other resource limits that will negatively affect carrying capacity. Maybe I'm just bargaining.

Ron Patterson says: 11/30/2017 at 7:59 am
Islandboy, there is no doubt that the carrying capacity of human beings can be increased somewhat by the use of organic fertilizers. But it is chemical fertilizers that have very dramatically and very temporally increased our carrying capacity.

Of course when the carrying capacity of humans is increased the carrying capacity of wild species, especially megafauna is decreased.

That is one thing that just drives me up the wall. Everyone is concerned about the welfare of human beings. No one seems to give a rats ass about the welfare of all other species.

HuntingtonBeach says: 12/01/2017 at 2:58 am
Hi Ron, I hope your doing well. Thank you for a great post. It sure explains why Costco was so F'n busy last weekend.

"No one seems to give a rats ass about the welfare of all other species"

That's just not all true. I'm pretty sure GoneFishing cares about his dog a lot more than myself.

"the selection of higher output varieties of crops or genetic engineering of crops would have raised the carrying capacity and I suggest, that increased carrying capacity would be sustainable indefinitely"

I think you could include the knowledge of harvesting water and controlled irrigation also increasing sustainable capacity

James says: 11/30/2017 at 8:47 am
Humans evolved to become the equivalent of RNA in cells. We use tools and information, primarily in technological cells and use them with ATP equivalent fossil fuels to do work. Like organisms or cells in the ecosystem, human organizations seek to grow, profit and take market share – to further their existence.

The human brain is primarily a reward seeking organ as is most neural tissue in the ecosystem. Since humans are dissipative structures, not seeking rewards is the greatest threat they face. Most other threats, short of being chased by a pack of wild dogs, can be watered down and ignored since the brain must concentrate on getting resources and energy. Even though a human can think about things, it does not substitute for being greedy and gathering as much wealth as possible and reproducing prolifically. We're selected for doing that.

The natural greed which evolved because of natural scarcity in the ecosystem, did not wane as we evolved into a technological setting. There is no limit on our desires to be "rich" because we perceive associated advantages in survival and reproduction. Civilization is an explosive cancer that emerged from the ecosystem to consume and destroy the ecological body. Humans are the RNA that can't stop reproducing and stimulate the growth of new cells and distribution systems until the entire consumable earth is covered and the ecosystem dies or at least becomes much less complex.

Dennis Coyne says: 11/30/2017 at 10:06 am
Hi James,

In many wealthy nations total fertility has fallen below the replacement level, in fact for about half the World's population TFR is below replacement (dividing things up by nation state). Generally it is higher income nations where this is the case and correlation between education level and total fertility is very strong.

These facts and the trend in Global education levels for women don't square very well with your theory.

As Ron has suggested, homo sapiens sapiens is not your average species.

James says: 11/30/2017 at 11:29 am
Even the education occurs in schools, the cellular equivalent of the nucleolus. Instead of pursuing the rewards of children, women are pursuing "wealth" created by the technological system. I'm not sure which one is most damaging.
Fred Magyar says: 11/30/2017 at 10:30 am
The natural greed which evolved because of natural scarcity in the ecosystem, did not wane as we evolved into a technological setting. There is no limit on our desires to be "rich" because we perceive associated advantages in survival and reproduction.

And out of which orifice did you pull all that BS out of?! Let me guess, you are of the Neo-Liberal Economist school of though, right? Try cracking a few tomes on human evolution and anthropology instead of failed 20th century memes about the nature of man and rationality of markets.

Hightrekker says: 11/30/2017 at 10:49 am
Speaking of the rationality of markets:

Whitefish is halting Puerto Rico power repairs, claiming it's owed $83 million

http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/20/us/puerto-rico-power-whitefish-halts-work/index.html

James says: 11/30/2017 at 11:34 am
You don't see any greed? None in the ecosystem? Why is everyone trying to accumulate more wealth? Why do all organisms struggle to eat and reproduce to the maximum? Look in the cell, it's all happened before, but mostly with sunshine at the base.

Why do we worship the likes of Warren Buffett?

Cooperation exists, but only to enhance competition against a similarly cooperating group.

Cats@Home says: 11/30/2017 at 1:25 pm
Warren Buffett seems like a good man but Jeff Bezos is the businessman I admire most right now.
Survivalist says: 11/30/2017 at 11:07 pm
The Creepy Religion That Explains All Of Trump's Actions.
"The Prosperity Gospel is quintessentially American. One journalist described it as the "religion of winning," so we have to assume Charlie Sheen is onboard too."
http://www.cracked.com/blog/trumps-bizarre-religion-weirder-than-scientology/
Hightrekker says: 12/01/2017 at 3:22 pm
Blowing Up the Territory
Trump's biggest break came from the Democratic party. Booking Hillary Clinton as the good guy in this match was a colossal error, especially when the most improbable thing in all of politics was waiting in the wings: a legit babyface.

Bernie Sanders came off like Paddington Bear next to Hillary Clinton. Bernie was a nice old Jewish man from Vermont who legitimately meant well, and he got a real pop from his fans. He drew like crazy. Hell, even I sent him money, the first time I have ever contributed to a political campaign -- every time he got on TV and started shooting about marijuana smokers going to jail while Wall Street hoodlums were walking, I Paypaled him five bucks. I had waited my whole life to hear a politician cut a promo like that -- I think he eventually ended up with a Jackson from me, straight from my personal pot budget.

As a face, Clinton just had too much baggage, a lot of it achingly familiar: A partner known for predatory sexual behavior, wicked family ties to big business, an entitled daughter, a family charity fund loaded with foreign money, lies, flip flops. . . . What was good for the goose might have been tolerable for the gander, but all she really got was a cheap pop, and if she had any moral high ground at all, she lost it when former Democratic operative Donna Brazile, while working for CNN, leaked potential questions to the Clinton campaign before a debate with Sanders. That was cheating, behavior clearly unbecoming to a babyface. But more important was that she failed to deliver on the only thing that matters: she didn't draw. For a while it looked like there might be a "Dusty finish," a gimmick ending (named for Dusty Rhodes, the legendary wrestler and booker who invented it) in which one wrestler is declared the winner, only to have the decision reversed on a technicality -- for instance, interference from Russian hackers. This was a finish guaranteed to drive crowds insane, but Hillary couldn't put it over.

So who's the best worker? If we are using the Hulk Hogan index, it is indisputably Donald Trump. He won the election. He's the president.

But when it all comes tumbling down, be ready for a fresh wave of Trump-brand kayfabe -- transparently flawed in both conception and execution, except that he actually believes it. He'll ride off in his helicopter claiming that Washington was too dirty to clean up, that he tried but he couldn't drain the swamp, that they wouldn't accept the One Honest Man. He'll blame obstructionist Democrats for staging a witch hunt, and the Republicans for not having the guts to back him. In wrestling parlance this is called "blowing up the territory."

Pundits will argue: How much of it was real, how much reality show? How much was a put-on, how much of it was a guy legit skating at the edges of madness and dementia? Was it a work, a shoot, or a worked shoot? The only thing we can be sure of is that the secular writers will get it wrong. And, existentially, at least, Trump will still wear spandex when he mows the lawn. He can't help himself, that's just the kind of jerk he is.

https://thebaffler.com/salvos/the-art-of-the-heel-edison

Survivalist says: 11/30/2017 at 10:40 pm
Organisms evolved a bias to maximize fitness by maximizing power. With greater power, there is greater opportunity to allocate energy to reproduction and survival, and therefore, an organism that captures and utilizes more energy than another organism in a population will have a fitness advantage.
Individual organisms cooperate to form social groups and generate more power. Differential power generation and accumulation result in a hierarchical group structure.
"Politics" is power used by social organisms to control others. Not only are human groups never alone, they cannot control their neighbors' behavior. Each group must confront the real possibility that its neighbors will grow its numbers and attempt to take resources from them. Therefore, the best political tactic for groups to survive in such a milieu is not to live in ecological balance with slow growth, but to grow rapidly and be able to fend off and take resources from others[5].
The inevitable "overshoot" eventually leads to decreasing power attainable for the group with lower-ranking members suffering first. Low-rank members will form subgroups and coalitions to demand a greater share of power from higher-ranking individuals who will resist by forming their own coalitions to maintain it. Meanwhile, social conflict will intensify as available power continues to fall.
Eventually, members of the weakest group (high or low rank) are forced to "disperse."[6] Those members of the weak group who do not disperse are killed,[7] enslaved, or in modern times imprisoned. By most estimates, 10 to 20 percent of all the people who lived in Stone-Age societies died at the hands of other humans.[8] The process of overshoot, followed by forced dispersal, may be seen as a sort of repetitive pumping action -- a collective behavioral loop -- that drove humans into every inhabitable niche of our planet.
Here is a synopsis of the behavioral loop described above:
Step 1. Individuals and groups evolved a bias to maximize fitness by maximizing power, which requires over-reproduction and/or over-consumption of natural resources (overshoot), whenever systemic constraints allow it. Differential power generation and accumulation result in a hierarchical group structure.
Step 2. Energy is always limited, and overshoot eventually leads to decreasing power available to some members of the group, with lower-ranking members suffering first.
Step 3. Diminishing power availability creates divisive subgroups within the original group. Low-rank members will form subgroups and coalitions to demand a greater share of power from higher-ranking individuals, who will resist by forming their own coalitions to maintain power.
Step 4. Violent social strife eventually occurs among subgroups who demand a greater share of the remaining power.
Step 5. The weakest subgroups (high or low rank) are either forced to disperse to a new territory, are killed, enslaved, or imprisoned.
Step 6. Go back to step 1.
The above loop was repeated countless thousands of times during the millions of years that we were evolving[9]. This behavior is inherent in the architecture of our minds -- is entrained in our biological material -- and will be repeated until we go extinct. Carrying capacity will decline[10] with each future iteration of the overshoot loop, and this will cause human numbers to decline until they reach levels not seen since the Pleistocene.
http://www.dieoff.org
Hightrekker says: 11/30/2017 at 10:50 pm
will cause human numbers to decline until they reach levels not seen since the Pleistocene.

Such a optimist!

Hightrekker says: 11/30/2017 at 10:38 am
Megacancer?
Hightrekker says: 11/30/2017 at 10:28 am
"There's no indication that we're going to do anything philosophically different," said Jim Blackburn, an environmental law professor at Rice University. "With a few modifications, it's business as usual."

As Houston rebuilds from the most expensive hurricane in U.S. history, local officials plan to dredge waterways, build new reservoirs and a coastal barrier to protect against storms that experts say are growing in intensity due to a warming climate. They have asked Washington for $61 billion to pay for it all.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-storm-harvey-floods/hurricane-harvey-makes-houston-reassess-growth-friendly-policies-idUSKBN1DU1KP?feedType=RSS&feedName=domesticNews

Hightrekker says: 11/30/2017 at 10:37 am
"Half the inhabitants of Melbourne have probably never seen something like this," Mr Williams said.

"This is a vast, intense, high impact event for this state."

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/melbourne-weather-record-rainfall-and-flash-flooding-to-kick-off-summer-20171129-gzvk4s.html

George Kaplan says: 11/30/2017 at 11:40 am
Apart from our own actions there may be random events that can take us out. There's a report in the Times today of research into super-eruptions. The Toba explosion, 75,000 years ago, almost took out Homo sapiens. The latest research indicates such events (maybe not quite as bad) happen on average every 17,000 years instead of every few hundred thousand as previously thought, and we are currently in an unusually long hiatus from these.

The biggest explosion since "civilization" started was probably Krakatoa in the 6th century, which has been proposed as the beggining of the dark ages in Europe and the end of a couple of other civilizations, though there's a bit of controversy about that theory, but it was much milder than an explosion from one of the major calderas would be.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/why-volcanic-doom-is-closer-than-we-think-90c8d56gr

(paywall – but there might be some free articles per month available and the research is to be published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters)

Sorry – probably the wrong thread.

Doug Leighton says: 11/30/2017 at 12:57 pm
Continuing from above (this mirrors my own experience in Central Africa where families currently seem to be averaging about four kids each):

POPULATION GROWTH IN AFRICA: GRASPING THE SCALE OF THE CHALLENGE

"In the past year (2016) the population of the African continent grew by 30 million. By the year 2050, annual increases will exceed 42 million people per year and total population will have doubled to 2.4 billion, according to the UN. This comes to 3.5 million more people per month, or 80 additional people per minute since the early 1990s, family planning programmes in Africa have not had the same attention (as Asia and Latin America), RESULTING IN SLOW, SOMETIMES NEGLIGIBLE, FERTILITY DECLINES. IN A HANDFUL OF COUNTRIES, PREVIOUS DECLINES HAVE STALLED ALTOGETHER AND ARE REVERSING."

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2016/jan/11/population-growth-in-africa-grasping-the-scale-of-the-challenge

Also,

WHY HAVE FOUR CHILDREN WHEN YOU COULD HAVE SEVEN? FAMILY PLANNING IN NIGER

" but Hamani is unusual in that three babies are enough for her. Despite having the highest fertility rate in the world, women and men alike in Niger say they want more children than they actually have – women want an average of nine, while men say they want 11."

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2017/mar/15/why-have-four-children-when-you-could-have-seven-contraception-niger

GoneFishing says: 11/30/2017 at 5:08 pm
Sounds like an explosion that will lead to implosion and migration. Families used to be fairly large in the European and American regions not long ago. Some still are.
There are 27.7 million people in Uganda. But by 2025 the population will almost double to 56 million, close to that of Britain, which has a similar land mass. In 44 years its population will have grown by nearly as much as China's.
"You look at these numbers and think 'that's impossible'," said Carl Haub, senior demographer at the US-based Population Reference Bureau, whose latest global projections show Uganda as the fastest-growing country in the world. Midway through the 21st century, if current birthrates persist, Uganda will be the world's 12th most populous country with 130 million people – more than Russia or Japan.

https://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2006/sep/01/guardianweekly.guardianweekly1
Doug Leighton says: 11/30/2017 at 6:02 pm
"There are 27.7 million people in Uganda."

That sounds about right and from personal observation almost all 27.7 million of them are school kids who (currently) are quite well nourished and with decent health care. A big problem, as I see it, is that virtually all schools in Uganda are run by "Western" churches who seen determined to increase the size of their flock by NOT teaching their students about contraception and the benefits thereof: sound familiar?

Survivalist says: 11/30/2017 at 10:36 pm
"In 2015, the median age of the population in Uganda was 15.8 years."
https://www.statista.com/statistics/447643/average-age-of-the-population-in-uganda/
George Kaplan says: 12/01/2017 at 1:48 am
Doug – like you I have some sponsorship in Africa – a general women's group rather than an individual. From their letters what they want is education (both formal for the children and also just tips on farming and running a business), enough money (very little) to start a business so they can feed their children, a way to manage HIV if they are infected (many still are) and peace and quiet. What they don't want is more children, forced marriage through kidnap, the return of their husbands to beat them up, interference from the elders (all men) in their business. Often they only realise these options are even possible after they have had contact with the groups set up by the charity.
Doug Leighton says: 12/01/2017 at 9:35 am
George – My African experiences are mainly restricted to Uganda (the pearl of Africa) where my family visit annually and have done so for almost 20 years; we love the country, the people, the wildlife. Its been a joy watching the girl we assisted progress from kindergarten to medical school; to meet and relate to her extended family who've become our close friends. The country (Uganda) and the people are currently doing well, very well indeed (unless you happen to be gay). Wildlife parks flourish and are well managed. My concerns relate to the future. There are too many kids. In my opinion, without reigning in population growth the country will face immense over-population problems in the future. I hope I'm wrong. Having said that, I agree with your comments -- all of them. And its true, woman's business groups are in many respects the future of Africa.

Cheers,

Rob Mielcarski says: 11/30/2017 at 4:00 pm
For anyone seeking a plausible scientific explanation for why:
– one species has a uniquely powerful brain
– why the brain of that species is capable of visiting the moon but incapable of understanding or acting on it's own overshoot
– why one small group of hominids exploded about 100,000 to take over the planet
– why religion emerged simultaneous with the behaviorally modern mind about 100,000 years ago
– and more big questions: https://un-denial.com/2017/06/25/why-my-interest-in-denial/

I find this theory by Ajit Varki and Danny Brower very satisfying.

https://un-denial.com/denial-2/theory-video/

George Kaplan says: 11/30/2017 at 4:08 pm
That's a smart site you have there. I read that book some time ago, it's interesting but I thought a bit of a just-so story, but that's maybe becasue the ideas woud be so hard to prove one way or the other. It's a pity Brower died before his ideas got out to more discussion.
Rob Mielcarski says: 12/01/2017 at 1:13 am
Your initial reaction to the theory is perfectly reasonable and common.

If you dig deeper and start connecting dots I think you may find it is the best available explanation for many big unanswered questions. The theory may not be correct but there are no known facts that slay it, nor any other equally elegant theories that fit the data better.

Varki acknowledges the difficulty of testing the theory, but does point to some promising avenues of research. Unfortunately Varki's speciality and day job is in a different domain so his theory is likely to sit on the shelf until some young scientist with a defective denial gene picks up the baton.

George Kaplan says: 12/01/2017 at 2:08 am
I did find it neat and convincing as you say, but that's the point of just-so stories, plus it's difficult to know where to go if it is correct, but I'm going to be visiting your site without question.
Doug Leighton says: 11/30/2017 at 7:39 pm
I suppose this 2014 piece is apropos,

WILL OVERPOPULATION LEAD TO PUBLIC HEALTH CATASTROPHE?

"Our new projections are probabilistic, and we find that there will probably be between 9.6 and 12.3 billion people in 2100," Prof. Raftery told Medical News Today. "This projection is based on a statistical model that uses all available past data on fertility and mortality from all countries in a systematic way, unlike previous projections that were based on expert assumptions."

"A key finding of the study is that the fertility rate in Africa is declining much more slowly than has been previously estimated, which Prof. Raftery tells us "has major long-term implications for population."

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/284619.php?utm_source=TrendMD&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Medical_News_Today_TrendMD_1

Hightrekker says: 11/30/2017 at 7:50 pm
Spain's water crisis deepens as Rio Tajo dries up

https://www.euroweeklynews.com/3.0.15/news/on-euro-weekly-news/spain-news-in-english/146617-spain-s-water-crisis-deepens

(haven't had a wing pawn global cooling update for a while)

http://www.theportugalnews.com/news/sahara-moving-north/43959

Hightrekker says: 11/30/2017 at 9:30 pm
Declining uncertainty in transient climate response as CO2 forcing dominates future climate change

https://www.nature.com/articles/ngeo2371

( Nature Geoscience , not Watt Is My Head Doing Up My Ass?

Fred Magyar says: 12/01/2017 at 5:09 am
No discussion about human evolution or even biological evolution across all species can be considered complete without at least a basic understanding of the biochemical and molecular biological basis of CRIPR-Cas9 gene editing technology and gene drives.

Sam Harris' latest podcast has a discussion of this technology with Jennifer Doudna.

https://www.samharris.org/podcast

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Jennifer Doudna about the gene-editing technology CRISPR/Cas9. They talk about the biology of gene editing, how specific tissues in the body can be targeted, the ethical implications of changing the human genome, the importance of curiosity-driven science, and other topics.

Ron Patterson says: 12/01/2017 at 8:56 am
E.O. Wilson
I have always been a great admirer of E.O Wilson. I have followed his work for years. I especially liked "Sociobiology" and "Consilience". I have followed his feud with Stephen J. Gould, Steven Rose, R.C. Lewontin, and Leon Kamin, (as reported by Steven Pinker and Richard Dawkins). (I always came down on the side of Wilson et al.) And I am very proud to say he is a fellow Alabamian.

That being said, there are areas where I must disagree with him. For instance:

From Kirkus Reviews of "Half Earth":
In this final volume of his trilogy, Wilson (The Meaning of Human Existence, 2014, etc.) opens with a compelling proposal on how to slow current species extinction rates: set aside half of the planet (noncontiguously) as wilderness preserves free from human encroachment, a measure that the author claims would stabilize more than 80 percent of species.

Fred Magyar, above, quotes from Edward O. Wilson's New Take on Human Nature:
Wilson argues the nest is central to understanding the ecological dominance not only of ants, but of human beings, too ..

By being super-cooperators, groupies of the group, willing to set aside our small, selfish desires and I-minded drive to join forces and seize opportunity as a self-sacrificing, hive-minded tribe ..

To qualify as eusocial, in Wilson's definition, animals must live in multigenerational communities, practice division of labor and behave altruistically, ready to sacrifice "at least some of their personal interests to that of the group." It's tough to be a eusocialist.

First, the idea that we would or could set aside half the earth for wildlife is preposterous. Which parts of the U.S. would we set aside, parts that make half the land area? Could we convince every African nation to do the same? Or Russia? Or China, South Korea or Japan?

Second, as much as I admire Wilson, I think he is just flat wrong on his new take on human nature. And I think Pinker and Dawkins would agree with that opinion. If you had read Pinker's " The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature ," and I have, you would know exactly what I mean. Our minds are not blank slates to be molded by society, to be made to behave like ants in a colony, like a self-sacrificing, hive-minded tribe. All those traits that Wilson says we must give up are in our genes, human nature.

I will not deny that humans can be ruled. An Iron Fist could compel us to behave in such a matter. But all such Iron Fists carry within itself the seeds of its own destruction. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. It's just human nature.

OFM says: 12/01/2017 at 10:49 am
Hi Ron,

After reading your eight fifty six am, I'm telling ya straight .. Between your ears, where you live intellectually, you are a TRUE conservative.

The people who we refer to today as conservatives, meaning those who inhabit the right wing politically, are not REAL conservatives, not according to my definition.

Don't forget that I am a follower of the Humpty Dumpty School of Linguistics. Words mean exactly what I intend them to mean, when I use them, rotfl.

To my way of thinking, the first and single most important qualification of a TRUE conservative is that he must have a sound grasp of human nature. You have it. You understand that we cooperate with friends, family, known community, and compete with outsiders .. and that when circumstances compel us to do so, we make friends or at least ally ourselves with former enemies or strangers, and work together .. but mostly only when we have little or no choice but to do so.

I'm just teasing you a little, not making fun of you. 😉

Decent people, left or right wing, want the same things, when you get down to the basics. Peace, dignified life, freedom from unnecessary worries, etc.

I haven't yet read Wilson's latest books. Hoping to get around to it, this winter.

We need to keep it in mind that just because somebody presents a grand plan in a book, and writes as if it might be possible to implement it, he does not necessarily believe there's a snowball's chance on a red hot stove that his plan will ever actually be implemented.

Such books are sometimes intended as sources of inspiration for a new generation of people following along in his footsteps .. and such a plan MIGHT be implemented . a few centuries down the road, lol. Stranger things have happened, historically.

Such a book can be the result of an old man's dreams being put in libraries so as to achieve a sort of immortality . Wilson had that already of course.

I reckon you're even older than I am, and here's wishing you the best at the personal level.

Ron Patterson says: 12/01/2017 at 11:09 am
To my way of thinking, the first and single most important qualification of a TRUE conservative is that he must have a sound grasp of human nature. You have it. You understand that we cooperate with friends, family, known community, and compete with outsiders .. and that when circumstances compel us to do so, we make friends or at least ally ourselves with former enemies or strangers, and work together .. but mostly only when we have little or no choice but to do so.

Sorry Mac, but I just don't get the connection. The definition you pen here could just as well be the definition of a True Liberal.

I am a conservative when it comes to conserving the environment, saving animal habitat and saving species from extinction. But those are qualities held by most liberals and not held by so-called conservatives. Right-wing Republicans call themselves conservatives.

So I just have to accept the lexicon as it exist today. I am a liberal, not a conservative.

OFM says: 12/01/2017 at 11:01 pm
"Sorry Mac, but I just don't get the connection. The definition you pen here could just as well be the definition of a True Liberal."

You DO GET IT, Ron, except you haven't yet quite got around to thinking of labels as jokes or weapons . Labels are for partisans. Labels are clubs we use to pound each other into submission.

People with real working brains generally come to the same basic conclusions, regardless of the way they're labeled by themselves or others. There's usually more than one route by which we can travel and arrive at the truth.

You're a man willing to tell it like it is, as for instance when you have pointed out the realities of the way things work in some countries where you worked yourself. A partisan D just won't repeat that sort of stuff, true or not.

When you say you're a liberal, you're just labeling yourself. What you ARE is something else. You're a man with a working brain, a man who understands reality, a man who tells it like it is, as you perceive it to be.

Ron Patterson says: 12/01/2017 at 11:12 pm
You're a man with a working brain, a man who understands reality, a man who tells it like it is, as you perceive it to be.

You are a goddamn right man, and that means I am a liberal. 😉

OFM says: 12/02/2017 at 2:40 pm
Ah yes, but liberal is still just a label.

It is however true that the so called liberals are more often right by a substantial margin than the so called conservatives in terms of having objective facts on their side when considering issues such as the environment, public health, and many others.

But they're not always right. Sometimes the liberal camp seems to have it's head as far up its backside as the conservative camp.

The leaders of both camps seem to be more interested in having plenty of foot soldiers to serve as cannon fodder than they are in the actual welfare of the country.

I can provide as good arguments for any sort of truly sound public policy from a conservative pov as you can from a liberal pov.

To me this proves we both have working brains, and are capable of looking the truth in the eye, and publicly agreeing on what IS true, and what is not.

If we could free ourselves of goddamned infernal partisan politics and identity politics , based on our community cultures, we could make things happen politically.

If for instance we could put the question of subsidizing wind and solar power to a referendum, I could easily convince most of the so called conservatives I know that voting in favor of subsidies would be a GREAT BARGAIN for them, long term. Well, the ones with brains enough that they know a little about the business world anyway. That's at least half of them, and more than enough.

They won't ordinarily support subsidizing renewable energy as part of a package deal because they perceive the PACKAGE to be weighted in favor of their political and cultural enemies. Supporting renewable energy subsidies would mean voting for D's and they don't like the overall D agenda.

OFM says: 12/03/2017 at 5:49 pm
Back to you one more time Ron,

I'm not sure WHERE this comment will appear, but hopefully it will be below my two forty pm.

Allow me to approach this liberal/ conservative label thing from a different direction.

Suppose you meet a new person, and get to talking about oh let us say water pollution, and fishing, and having to spend your local tax money on a sophisticated water treatment plant, because there's too much of this or that and the other as well in the river that passes your town to drink the water, without spending a lot of money. .

If you NEVER MENTION anything that LABELS you as a liberal or conservative, you can talk meaningfully to just about anybody about this issue.

Identify yourself as a liberal, or a conservative, you more or less automatically blow your opportunity to say anything to your new POTENTIAL friend who thinks of himself as your opposite and enemy, politically, other than something he already knows and believes, even if what that something is factually incorrect.

Label yourself as a liberal, and the typical serious Christian voter in the state of Alabama automatically thinks of you as a murderer of yet to be born children. Forget labeling yourself, avoid it to the extent you can, and you have an EXCELLENT shot at talking to that voter about supporting only candidates who have a decent record of being respectful to women, immigrants, minorities, etc.

If I label myself as a conservative, I've automatically blown my chance to have a serious conversation with a liberal about the possibility of having some real choice in education . meaning breaking the teacher's unions and government's de facto monopoly control of our educational system.

You may not like this idea, but think about this how much better are your options NOW, given that we have email, fax, UPS, Fed Ex , etc, when it comes to getting a letter or package where it needs to go FOR SURE and RIGHT AWAY?

I have heard lots of liberals say that allowing any real choice in the schools would mean the end of any real opportunity for poor kids, inner city kids, etc, to get a decent education. Sometimes, in the same breath almost, I hear those same liberals admit that the public schools in lots of communities large and small are literal disaster areas, where hardly any of the kids learn anything. I used to know quite a few of this sort , back in my younger days, when I was living in the Fan and hanging out with the older ( grad students mostly ) kids at VCU having a good time, taking a course or two per semester to keep my grad student ID up to date. I spent about ten years there off and on.

Ya know WHAT? EVERY LAST COUPLE I knew among them moved out of town when their OWN kids got old enough to go to school.

Quite a few of them spent their careers as teachers, lol. And my guess is that not more than one out of ten of those couples ever moved to a place where the schools were the sort of hell holes we read about so often these days .. and that tenth couple of course had NO KIDS, lol.

Yet they almost universally believe in the de facto teacher / government educational monopoly as it exists today, as it totally ruins the prospects of millions of kids denying them, or more accurately, their parents, any real choice in the schools their kids attend. If liberal versus conservative comes into the conversation, it's OVER. The liberals aren't going to listen, any more than conservatives listen.

How many members of this forum think Roy Moore ought to be tarred and feathered ? How many have ever had the intellectual integrity to say the same thing about Bill Clinton?

Liberals are liberals, and conservatives are conservatives, and the gulf between can be as vast as the gulf between East and West. Communication is tough to impossible.

But if we avoid the labels . communication can happen.

Incidentally this rant does NOT mean I am a supporter of the Trump administration in general, or the Trump education department in particular. Nothing I know of concerning the Trump administration seems to be about the good of the COUNTRY or of the majority of the people of this country.

Hightrekker says: 12/01/2017 at 11:04 am
First, the idea that we would or could set aside half the earth for wildlife is preposterous.

Even stopping the rape and scrape accelerating is highly unlikely.

This is total fantasy.
At best, the survivors (if any) on the other side of the wall we are about to crash into, will have enough wisdom and intelligence to embrace the condition they are in.

Fred Magyar says: 12/01/2017 at 11:19 am
First, the idea that we would or could set aside half the earth for wildlife is preposterous.

That isn't what he proposes even though it is the title of his book. May I suggest you read it! What he is really arguing for is more along the lines of a network of ecological corridors that might connect already existing nature preserves, parks and private property and therefore allow isolated pockets of natural ecosystems to be connected with others.

To be very clear, E.O. Wilson is not in any way naive about our predicament and says so.
That's not to say he has thrown in the towel, especially given that he is now in the later portion of his 80's. He apparently doesn't want to go down without a fight.

I have read his book twice already and have the Kindle version on my laptop. To be honest I'm not what anyone might call overly optimistic about the prospects of his proposals coming to pass. Having said that, I do admire his deep knowledge base about the natural world and have the greatest admiration for the man! More power to him for trying!

Cheers!

GoneFishing says: 12/01/2017 at 12:01 pm
Fred, I read Half Earth and have to agree with E.O. Wilson. I think my personal bias is toward nature, but that aside, humans can do what is needed. All the gadgetry in the world cannot replace a functioning ecosystem. Those functions are mandatory for the preservation of life on earth. We need to preserve, expand and enhance (if we get smart enough) natural ecosystems around the world.
Why not build armies? Armies called the United Conservation and Environmental Protection Corp, whose job is to protect and expand natural areas around the world. It would increase employment and be funded by monies that otherwise go to military purposes. This and other organizations could be doing things that make the people proud to be human, rather than just wheels and cogs in basically destructive system.

This is not naïve, this is just choices. Humans make choices, that is one of our inherent abilities. Our current state and appearance is due to a set of previous choices that have not quite worked out. We get stuck in old choices, time to make new ones.

Ron Patterson says: 12/01/2017 at 12:24 pm
I think my personal bias is toward nature, but that aside, humans can do what is needed.

Really now? If humans can do what is needed then why the hell are they not doing it. Species are going extinct at a rate as fast as the last great extinction 65 million years ago. And the extinction rate is accelerating. If humans can do what is needed it is goddamn time they got started.

Our current state and appearance is due to a set of previous choices that have not quite worked out. We get stuck in old choices, time to make new ones.

Those choices were made, and are being made, by 7 billion people. And yes, it is time those 7 billion people changed the way they are behaving, it is time they made different choices. But don't hold your breath.

I am sorry Fishing, but I just don't share your optimism.

Doug Leighton says: 12/01/2017 at 12:38 pm
Yup, reminds me of China, driving to a restaurant half way across Beijing with a car full of Chinese because they knew about a hot spot where some endangered species or other was on the menu: get it before you're too late. Life in the real world!

"Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural "background" rate of about one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we're now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day. It could be a scary future indeed, with as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century."

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/

GoneFishing says: 12/01/2017 at 2:06 pm
"If humans can do what is needed then why the hell are they not doing it. "
"I am sorry Fishing, but I just don't share your optimism."

By destroying the environment we destroy ourselves. I think that will soon become quite apparent and then those who are already on track can leverage that.

Ron Patterson says: 12/01/2017 at 3:21 pm
As Charlie Brown would say: Good Grief!
Fred Magyar says: 12/01/2017 at 8:44 pm
Really now? If humans can do what is needed then why the hell are they not doing it. Species are going extinct at a rate as fast as the last great extinction 65 million years ago. And the extinction rate is accelerating. If humans can do what is needed it is goddamn time they got started.

Ok, let's assume for a moment using round numbers that there are currently 7.5 billion humans living on this tiny planet as I type these words. How many of those humans do you suppose are actually aware of the fact that we are probably in the midst of the sixth mass extinction? I'm going to go way out on a limb here and guess about a couple hundred thousand.

Now most of those couple hundred thousand are in shock and denial of reality. So there are maybe 100,000 humans who are aware and are actually starting to do something.

While that may sound like a minuscule amount I can cite data and research that shows that may be enough to really start to change the current paradigm in a big way.

Ron Patterson says: 12/01/2017 at 11:06 pm
As I quoted Charlie Brown above: Good Grief!
Fred Magyar says: 12/02/2017 at 7:15 am
LOL!
.

Hightrekker says: 12/01/2017 at 12:22 pm
Yea, the feud between Gould/Lewontin/Rose VS Wilson/Dawkins/Dennett has been interesting.
Being somewhat Marxist in my orientation, I was kinda presupposed to the Gould camp, but the Wilson/Dawkins have proven to ring much truer.
The Blank Slate puts the nails in the coffin for Marxist view of human nature, as Marx viewed it as totally a function of environment. Pinker buried that view.
Orr was always Gould and Lewontin's go to guy with media, as he had power in the NYT's and Boston Globe, and could often control reviews and and coverage.
It has been interesting.
Fred Magyar says: 12/01/2017 at 8:59 pm
http://www.planetary.org/explore/space-topics/earth/pale-blue-dot.html

I'm sure most here are familiar with what Carl Sagan said about our Pale Blue Dot

This excerpt from Sagan's book Pale Blue Dot was inspired by an image taken, at Sagan's suggestion, by Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990. As the spacecraft left our planetary neighborhood for the fringes of the solar system, engineers turned it around for one last look at its home planet. Voyager 1 was about 6.4 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) away, and approximately 32 degrees above the ecliptic plane, when it captured this portrait of our world. Caught in the center of scattered light rays (a result of taking the picture so close to the Sun), Earth appears as a tiny point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size.

Now guess what?!

https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/12/after-37-years-voyager-has-fired-up-its-trajectory-thrusters/

At present, the Voyager 1 spacecraft is 21 billion kilometers from Earth, or about 141 times the distance between the Earth and Sun. It has, in fact, moved beyond our Solar System into interstellar space. However, we can still communicate with Voyager across that distance.

This week, the scientists and engineers on the Voyager team did something very special. They commanded the spacecraft to fire a set of four trajectory thrusters for the first time in 37 years to determine their ability to orient the spacecraft using 10-millisecond pulses.

FURTHER READING
The Voyagers have reached an anniversary worth celebrating
After sending the commands on Tuesday, it took 19 hours and 35 minutes for the signal to reach Voyager. Then, the Earth-bound spacecraft team had to wait another 19 hours and 35 minutes to see if the spacecraft responded. It did. After nearly four decades of dormancy, the Aerojet Rocketdyne manufactured thrusters fired perfectly.

"The Voyager team got more excited each time with each milestone in the thruster test. The mood was one of relief, joy, and incredulity after witnessing these well-rested thrusters pick up the baton as if no time had passed at all," said Todd Barber, a propulsion engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

Humans can do some pretty incredible things!

Cheers!

GoneFishing says: 12/01/2017 at 10:03 pm
Yes, they can even teach their young to love the life of the planet and help keep it safe.
HuntingtonBeach says: 12/01/2017 at 10:59 pm
Not if your born in the South and damaged by religion
Fred Magyar says: 12/02/2017 at 7:14 am
Well, E.O. Wilson was born in Alabama into an evangelical family. 😉
Ron Patterson says: 12/02/2017 at 11:14 am
So was I. Well, sort of. My dad was a Deacon in the Primitive Baptist Church but he was not a crusading evangelical.

I have told this story before but I will do it again here.

I was about 17 or so when I sidled up to my dad who was sitting in his easy chair. I asked: "Dad, how did them kangaroos get from Australia to over there where Noah's Ark was? And how did they get back?" Dad jumped up from his chair, stuck his finger right in my face and yelled: "Son, that is the word of God and that is not for you to question."

I never questioned my Dad again about religion.

HuntingtonBeach says: 12/02/2017 at 6:01 pm
It takes character and courage not act like sheep. My hat goes off to you. Ron, I'm sure you understood exactly what I meant by my earlier comment.
Hickory says: 12/02/2017 at 12:15 am
When countries begin to hit the wall economically ( as happened in Germany in the 1930's for example), the populace will often out of desperation (and ignorance of course) enable a dictator to come to power. This is with the false hope that grandiose promises of prosperity will be fulfilled.

This explains why Trump was elected, even though the American has yet to be tested by disruption, much.

As the world hits the wall of growth limits, the risk is for more and more leadership failures, the rise of warlords, the failure of functioning democracies.

Violent choices and dysfunctional government will serve to be a mechanism of population decline, ugly population decline. Current events can be seen through this lens as time unfolds.

Hard to watch.
May be better to have no TV.
The de-evolution will be televised, will be televised, will be televised

George Kaplan says: 12/02/2017 at 2:59 am
The general population in Germany did not really enable Hitler to come to power. He was appointed as a compomise by the two leading parties in an election who had split the main vote. They both thought he would make such a mess of it that they would sweep the board at the next election. As soon as he was appointed he started killing or imprisoning these smart opposition leaders, and there wasn't another clean election. It was more like an extended coupe, admittedly with a large number of supporters, often ex WW-I soldier thugs, in the general population.
OFM says: 12/02/2017 at 2:23 pm
George is in the bullseye about how Hitler came to power, considering he was painting fast with a broad brush in such a short comment. I have devoted many a long evening to reading the history of war in the twentieth century, so as to better understand the history of my time.

Wars are usually the result of politicians either wanting them, or being boxed into situations where they either can't avoid them or consider them the best of an assortment of bad options.

Hickory says: 12/03/2017 at 1:17 am
Point taken George. Despite that the general notion that as crunch time develops, there will be a trend towards extremist and totalitarian regimes throughout the world. Along with pockets of failed states, anarchy and warlords. 'Have nots' will take big risks.
GoneFishing says: 12/02/2017 at 8:25 am
No devolution involved. Just human nature.
The loose knit groups with similar hates, anger and dislikes were temporarily brought together. It was an inverse election that utilized the negative and more volatile side of human nature. it only hangs together with constant stirring and occasional negative results (pound the enemy). Finger pointing and passing the buck is not enough, the groups start fracturing.
Hightrekker says: 12/02/2017 at 9:43 am
Lose the Tee Vee -- -
The more you watch, the less you know.
HuntingtonBeach says: 12/02/2017 at 8:18 pm
The difference between the "Tee Vee" and the Internet is exposing your ignorance to the world
Ron Patterson says: 12/02/2017 at 1:36 pm
A question for Dennis Coyne, or any other cornucopian who believes renewable energy will save the world from economic collapse, at least for the next 200 years or so.

Dennis, I understand your very optimistic outlook for the welfare of future human populations. I don't agree with it but I understand your argument. But as I understand it, and please correct me if I am wrong, your entire argument deals with the human population of the earth. I don't remember reading your predicted outlook for the rest of the animal kingdom? Perhaps you did make one and I just missed it.

That being said, you have read my outlook many times. And it was all repeated in my post above. Do you agree or disagree? Just where do you see the large wild animal population in the year 2100? Please elaborate.

Edit: Dennis, I know you do not consider yourself a cornucopian, however, I was just comparing your outlook for the future of civilization to mine. And using that comparison?

islandboy says: 12/02/2017 at 2:36 pm
Nice! I was just thinking about a response to a comment following one of mine further up and this pops up, which dovetails nicely into what I've been thinking. In my comment I mention using wind power to make ammonia as a foundation for chemical nitrogen fertilizer and you (Ron) in you reply stated that, " But it is chemical fertilizers that have very dramatically and very temporally increased our carrying capacity." I don't know if you realized this but, that sort of was my point in that, the manufacture of ammonia and the resulting chemical fertilizer using excess wind (and/or solar) power might well result in a much extended (permanent) increase in carrying capacity by allowing us to continue the manufacture of chemical nitrogen fertilizer (ammonium nitrate if memory serves me right) in the absence of oil and NG.

This can be viewed as a downside to the ongoing exponential increasing capacity of renewable electricity generation. If renewables grow big enough fast enough, there will be incentives to use any excess to do things like manufacture fertilizer allowing mankind's expansion into wild habitats to continue. I think it is important that the existing population of the planet continues to have more or less adequate food supplies in order to avoid the sort of situation that exist in Haiti but, the real problem as I see it, is to get poor people in less developed countries to believe that they would be better off not having as many children. Based on utterances I have heard in my neck of the woods, as recently as last night, many of these people do not see any problem with having lots of kids. There seems to be an attitude abroad that there is a great big world out there, just ready for the taking. No limits. I wonder whatever gives people that idea?

I wanted to post some pictures of garbage, sitting in open storm water channels, just waiting for the next big shower of rain to be washed out of existence. At least that must be what the people who dump this stuff into the drains think. I have to wonder if they ever bother to think about where it's going to end up but, it seems to be a simple case of out of sight, out of mind. I guess some readers will have figured out that if you visit any area of the Jamaican coastline that does not have a regular, structured clean up crew, you will see where the trash ends up. I have seen it and it is depressing.

Ron Patterson says: 12/02/2017 at 3:18 pm
I don't know if you realized this but, that sort of was my point in that, the manufacture of ammonia and the resulting chemical fertilizer using excess wind (and/or solar) power might well result in a much extended (permanent) increase in carrying capacity by allowing us to continue the manufacture of chemical nitrogen fertilizer (ammonium nitrate if memory serves me right) in the absence of oil and NG.

Errr . I don't know if you realize it but you cannot make nitrogen fertilizer without natural gas . or some other source of hydrogen. Of course, you might get the hydrogen from water via electrolysis but that would be super expensive.

Fertilizer Made with Natural Gas Is Lifting Our World
Referred to by some as the most important technological advance of the 20th century .Between 3 and 5 percent of the world's annual natural gas production – roughly 1 to 2 percent of the world's annual energy supply – is converted using the process to produce more than 500 million tons of nitrogen fertilizer, which is believed to sustain about 40 percent of the world's 7 billion people. Approximately half of the protein in today's humans originated with nitrogen fixed through the Haber-Bosch process.

islandboy says: 12/02/2017 at 3:45 pm
"Of course, you might get the hydrogen from water via electrolysis but that would be super expensive."

Not if you are experiencing negative electricity prices as has happened when there's lots of wind and no demand or transmission capacity for the electricity being generated. I think OFM has alluded to this a few times in his ramblings, suggesting that hydrogen production via electrolysis or desalination might be useful ways of avoiding otherwise wasted electricity when the resource is available but, there is limited demand or transmission capacity.

If we ever get to the point where wind and solar generators are ubiquitous and abundant this could be a distinct possibility. In case you missed it in my earlier post here's The University of Minnesota's Wind to Nitrogen Fertilizer project :

We are pursuing a Grand Challenge – the challenge to feed the world while sustaining the environment. In the spirit of this grand challenge, a team of researchers across the University are pursuing an elegant concept in which wind energy, water, and air are used to produce nitrogen fertilizer.

WCROC energy from the windEnergy generated from the wind is used to separate hydrogen from water. Nitrogen is pulled from air. The hydrogen and nitrogen are then combined to form nitrogen fertilizer that nourishes the plants surrounding the farmer.

Next to water, nitrogen fertilizer is the most limiting nutrient for food production. Minnesota farmers import over $400 million of nitrogen fertilizer each year and are subjected to volatile price swings. Furthermore, nitrogen fertilizer is currently produced using fossil energy which contributes significantly to the carbon footprint of agricultural commodities.

and from https://www.siemens.co.uk/en/insights/potential-of-green-ammonia-as-fertiliser-and-electricity-storage.htm

"Green" ammonia demonstration programme:

Siemens is participating in an all electric ammonia synthesis and energy storage system demonstration programme at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, near Oxford. The demonstrator, which will run until December 2017, is supported by Innovate UK. Collaborators include the University of Oxford, Cardiff University and the Science & Technology Facilities Council.

Dennis Coyne says: 12/02/2017 at 2:59 pm
Hi Ron,

I do not know much about the subject so I should probably not offer an opinion, but because you asked

I agree that humans are the problem and believe that fewer humans (as in reduced population) will improve the situation. Will humans choose to protect some of the mega fauna, until population falls to a more sustainable level? I have no idea.

Is it possible? I would say yes.
High probability? My guess would be no (less than a 66% probability).

So I do not have a prediction for the Earth's megafauna in 2100, except to say I doubt your prediction that we will be reduced to rats and mice, etc. is correct. This is no doubt because I believe there will be a gradual transition to a more sustainable society. I believe some of the mega fauna might be preserved until human population falls to 1 billion or so (by 2150 to 2200). Most likely in North America, Scandanavia, and Siberia, and perhaps in the Himalaya and parts of South America. The rapid expansion of population in Africa makes it less likely the megafauna will survive there.

I am using the 40 kg cutoff for megafauna, though there are many definitions.

Note that some would consider cornucopian an insult.

Certainly I do not think fossil fuels are as abundant as those who believe scenarios such as the RCP8.5 scenario (with about 5000 Pg of carbon emissions) are plausible.

I also do not believe resources are unlimited or infinitely substitutable, which tends to be the cornucopian viewpoint. There is great need to utilize resources more efficiently and to recycle as much as possible (cradle to grave manufacturing should be required by law).

Now if you define cornucopian as someone who is less pessimistic than you, then I am by that definition a cornucopian. 🙂

I am certainly more optimistic than you, but if we all agreed there would be little to discuss.

Clearly the future is unclear.

The outlook for the wild megafauna is tragic and we should do what we can to preserve species diversity. Getting human population to peak and decline would improve the situation of other species, but I share your pessimism that this will be enough, I am just less pessimistic than you.

Ron Patterson says: 12/02/2017 at 3:53 pm
I believe some of the mega fauna might be preserved until human population falls to 1 billion or so (by 2150 to 2200).

Okay, let's do the math. It looks like the world will reach 9 billion people by 2050. Then if it were to fall to 1 billion by 2150, that would be a decline of 80,000,000 per year or 219,178 per day. That is deaths above births. That would be a catastrophic collapse by any stretch of the imagination. And of course, most of those deaths would be by starvation. And for sure, as I said before, we would eat the songbirds out of the trees.

Hell, if that scenario takes place, there will likely be no rats left. No, no, no, Dennis, please forgive me. You are definitely not a cornucopian. Oh God, how could I have been so wrong?

GoneFishing says: 12/02/2017 at 4:19 pm
The most rapid population decreases have been from disease. A few bouts of virulent diseases in a world with little medical help and control could dramatically reduce population.

Population Collapse in Mexico (Down to about 5% in a century)

Dennis Coyne says: 12/02/2017 at 5:14 pm
Hi Ron,

See chart below. If total fertility ratio (TFR) falls to 1.5 by 2050 then population can fall from 9 billion to 4.5 billion by 2125 and to 2.25 billion by 2200 and to 1 billion by 2300, a fall in TFR to 1.25 (South Korea is about 1.26) would result in more rapid population decline. It is not clear how low TFR can go for the World, it was cut in half in 40 years, whether that can continue so that 1.27 is reached in 2055 is unknown. This scenario assumes life expectancy rises to no higher than 90 for the World.

Deaths would be natural rather than from starvation, this is just a matter of people choosing to have fewer children as is the case today in many East Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan and in many European nations as well.

Education for women and access to birth control and electrification (watch tv, instead of other forms of entertainment leading to increased family size), and empowerment of women in general will reduce population growth. Higher income also helps.

Chart from paper linked below

http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/10438/1/28-39.pdf

Doug Leighton says: 12/02/2017 at 6:27 pm
Keeping things in perspective, why not go with the experts until they're proven wrong?

WORLD POPULATION LIKELY TO SURPASS 11 BILLION IN 2100

"American Statistical Association. "World population likely to surpass 11 billion in 2100: US population projected to grow by 40 percent over next 85 years."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150810110634.htm

Doug Leighton says: 12/02/2017 at 6:36 pm
THERE'S A STRONG CHANCE THAT ONE-THIRD OF ALL PEOPLE WILL BE AFRICAN BY 2100

The combination of declining mortality and relatively high fertility is the driver of rapid population growth in Africa. Even if fertility would continue to decline, as assumed by the UN medium scenario, it will not bring down the growth rate in the near future, let alone halt population growth. This is because of "demographic inertia". And this is because Africa has a high proportion of young adults of reproductive age. Even if each one had very few children, the number of births would remain high.

http://theconversation.com/theres-a-strong-chance-that-one-third-of-all-people-will-be-african-by-2100-84576

Hightrekker says: 12/02/2017 at 7:52 pm
We are all African– it's just some of us have been gone for a while.
(well if you are east of the Wallace Line, you are part Denisovan, and west, part Neanderthal and a species we haven't discovered yet)
Synapsid says: 12/03/2017 at 12:24 pm
Hightrekker,

The Neanderthals and Denisovans are of African descent too, so African we are.

It's turtles all the way down.

Doug Leighton says: 12/03/2017 at 12:47 pm
"It's turtles all the way down." LOL Exactly!
GoneFishing says: 12/02/2017 at 9:22 pm
Here is how the year 2000 looked like to the people of 1900.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-boston-globe-of-1900-imagines-the-year-2000-97021464/

Ron Patterson says: 12/02/2017 at 6:32 pm
Dennis, you are assuming that the population will alter their fertility rates to a lower value. Yes, that has already happened in developed countries. The fertility rates in undeveloped countries are still controlled by what their economy and environment will bear.

The vast majority of the human population lives in undeveloped countries. They will continue to push, push, push against the very limits of their existence. And that will still be the case 50 years from now, and 100 years from now, and 150 years from now.

There are reasons the fertility rate is dropping in developed countries. Female empowerment, contraception, and so on. There are entirely different reasons the fertility rate is dropping in undeveloped countries. Poor nutrition, almost no prenatal care and so on. Also, much higher infant death rate helps keep the population in check. Please check my chart above from the Population Reference Bureau.

I think that if you could just live just one year in Bangladesh, or the Congo, or Zimbabwe, or . you would have an entirely different outlook. You would be forced to take off those rose-colored glasses.

Again, check the Population Reference Bureau chart above.

Doug Leighton says: 12/02/2017 at 6:38 pm
" if you could just live just one year in Bangladesh, or the Congo, or Zimbabwe, or . you would have an entirely different outlook. You would be forced to take off those rose-colored glasses."

Wouldn't take a year, one week would do it: even keeping the rose-colored glasses on. 🙂

Survivalist says: 12/02/2017 at 9:07 pm
I spent a bit of time on leave in "Liberated Burma"/Karen State shortly after the fall of Manerplaw. A week would do it, however I was there for about 3 months. I haven't had a bad day since.
Hightrekker says: 12/02/2017 at 10:03 pm
Got chased out of Myanmar by someone with a AK, lucky I wasn't a captive. Walked across from Masi.
It wasn't the best idea I've ever had.
Survivalist says: 12/02/2017 at 10:44 pm
I linked up with some folks in Mae Sot on the Thai side. It was well planned before hand. There's was a lot of back and forth across the border in those days. Did some long range mobile medical patrols in Karen and Karenni State. Got chased around by Tatmadaw/SLORC a bit. When I was 25 that was my idea of a good time. Yeah, kinda fucked I know.
Hightrekker says: 12/02/2017 at 10:58 pm
Yea --
I was the only Farang around in Masi, and everyone else was going back and forth.
Very interesting place.
That was a long time ago, in a land far, far away.
It would be impossible in the homogeneous police state we are currently inhabiting.
Dennis Coyne says: 12/03/2017 at 11:09 am
Hi Doug and Ron,

I spent about 5 months hitchhiking through North and West Africa in 1981-2. Tunisia, Algeria, Niger, Nigeria, Gabon, Republic of Congo, and Zaire (as it was known in 1982).

The TFR of half the World's population as of 2015 is less than 2. The World TFR decreased from 5.02 in 1965 to 2.51 in 2015.

Different experts have different opinions

https://www.newsecuritybeat.org/2014/11/population-paradigm-wolfgang-lutz-education-effect/

and

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

http://www.iiasa.ac.at/web/home/research/researchPrograms/WorldPopulation/News/170109-GSDR.html

GoneFishing says: 12/03/2017 at 2:32 pm
The problem I see with fertility rates is the same problem I see with planting trees. Even though I support a foundation to plant trees I realize that future changes could allow people to wipe out those and other trees very quickly, thus rendering the effort useless. I also realize the preserved areas of nature and wilderness could quickly disappear or be irreparably harmed by government decree, war and material/food pressures.
The same goes with lower fertility rates. Since they are only based on decisions and not biological, the lower rates could reverse quite quickly. Just stress the population and see how fast it will change.
Once people realize that technological progress is an empty dead system that moves us to an empty dead world, birth rates will climb quickly.

Rather than adding to our knowledge, Tompkins argues computers and smartphones represent "deskilling devices; they make us dumber. We're immersed in a system that now requires the use of a cell phone just to get around, just to function and so the logic of that cell phone has been imposed on us.

"The computer is a mechanism for acceleration, it accelerates economic activity and this is eating up the world. It's eating up resources, it's processing, it's manufacturing, it's distributing, it's consuming. That's what the computer's real work does and it does that 24/7, 365 days a year, non-stop just to satisfy our own narrow needs."

Tompkins foresees a dark future dominated as he puts it by more ugliness, damaged landscapes, extinct species, extreme poverty, and lack of equity and says humanity faces a stark choice; either to transition now to a different system or face a painful collapse.

"The extinction crisis is the mother of all crises. There will be no society, there will be no economy, there will be no art and culture on a dead planet basically. We've stopped evolution."

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/technology-stopped-evolution-destroying-world

Fred Magyar says: 12/03/2017 at 2:51 pm
Rather than adding to our knowledge, Tompkins argues computers and smartphones represent "deskilling devices; they make us dumber. We're immersed in a system that now requires the use of a cell phone just to get around, just to function and so the logic of that cell phone has been imposed on us.

So put the damn cell phones to better use. They can also make us smarter They can be used to track illegal logging in endangered rain forests. The fact that I have a device in my pocket that gives me access to all of human knowledge and access to GPS does not make me dumber.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=5Fju_wOaV3Y

When a tree calls for help | Topher White | TEDxCERN

GoneFishing says: 12/03/2017 at 3:35 pm
Really? You have cell service in the rain forests? I barely have cell service where I live and it disappears totally between the mountains near me. I don't need electronic mapping and GPS to get around so no problem for me.
Let the rest feel nervous as they get out of touch. For many it's a disaster if they lose their phones, fully dependent.
Fred Magyar says: 12/03/2017 at 5:26 pm
I don't need electronic mapping and GPS to get around so no problem for me.

I actually learned how to use a sextant and a compass but GPS is available so I admit that I do use it upon occasion.

In any case my point was that it is possible to use technology for purposes other than tweeting or posting selfies of oneself to Facebook every ten minutes.

GoneFishing says: 12/03/2017 at 8:44 pm
Fred, they are highly capable machines but just machines. How they are used is determined by the machine and the operator interface.
I could go on for hours how they have had very bad effects on personal time and personal interactions. For many people life is a series of texts and phone calls with real time life being the background now. Interruptions are the norm now. Sacrilege is when they have to turn them off.
Fred Magyar says: 12/03/2017 at 8:57 pm
You won't fix stupid no matter how hard you try

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cznepJAbyg

Texting and walking fails compilation

notanoilman says: 12/03/2017 at 9:56 pm
@Fred
I come close to nailing a textwalker or walkytalky nearly every time I am out on my bike. SOP, watch out for the buggers. It amazes me that people are unable to move about (foot, moto, car, bus, truck) without a phone in their hand.

NAOM

Fred Magyar says: 12/02/2017 at 3:13 pm
A question for Dennis Coyne, or any other cornucopian who believes renewable energy will save the world from economic collapse, at least for the next 200 years or so.

Ok, I'll take a nibble!

First of all, why do we have to accept the current definition of what the economy has to be? All of nature has existed on renewable energy since the beginning of life on this planet 3.8 billion years ago, so obviously the problem isn't renewable energy. If it were, life wouldn't even exist. The extractive, linear growth based neo liberal idea of the economy that we have come to accept as normal, is a relatively recent construct that was created by a small group of people at the beginning of the 20th century and it certainly is an aberration! Personally I don't think it is worth saving.

That economy will certainly collapse and no energy source can ever make it sustainable. Therefore it will by definition collapse. However there is nothing that says we need to continue on that path. There are indeed choices that people and societies can make. Even to the point of something that is considered radical and taboo like limiting population growth. (that is a separate dissertation from my point here)

With regards alternative economic thinking maybe start with Kate Raeworth. Not everyone in the world who has ideas that are out of the box are automatically naive cornucopians.

How to Think Like a 21st Century Economist. 45:00 minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dR1Wy7ZAgY0

What is the goal of economics? Does GDP really tell us all we need to know about a country's wealth and well-being? Our guest in this show argues that our economic system should be designed to meet everyone's needs, while living within the means of the planet.

Kate Raworth is the author of the acclaimed book 'Doughnut Economics', and she will join us in the studio for an exploration of a new 21st century economic model and why she believes so many economists have got it wrong for so long.

The implications of her Doughnut Economics are profound and and can be read and embraced as a roadmap for change not just by experts or economists, but by everyone! This is a chance to challenge her with your questions and critiques.

If you want to think a bit more about how ideas like E.O. Wilson's Half Earth might look here's a TED talk that touches on it.

Nature is everywhere -- we just need to learn to see it 16:00 minutes

https://www.ted.com/talks/emma_marris_nature_is_everywhere_we_just_need_to_learn_to_see_it#t-779393

How do you define "nature?" If we define it as that which is untouched by humans, then we won't have any left, says environmental writer Emma Marris. She urges us to consider a new definition of nature -- one that includes not only pristine wilderness but also the untended patches of plants growing in urban spaces -- and encourages us to bring our children out to touch and tinker with it, so that one day they might love and protect it.

Emma Marris is a writer focusing on environmental science, policy and culture, with an approach that she paints as being "more interested in finding and describing solutions than delineating problems, and more interested in joy than despair."

I agree with Gone Fishing, we do have choices! There are people all over the world who are making them.

david higham says: 12/03/2017 at 7:28 pm
Regarding the first paragraph of your reply. Conflating the functioning of ecosystems
using the renewable energy from the sun with the 'Renewable Energy' required by industrial civilisation is a common mistake. The energy from the sun is renewable.
The infrastructure required to collect and store that energy requires the mining of the
requisite minerals,transportation,smelting,manufacturing,installation. The energy
required for all of that is supplied by fossil fuels. All of that infrastructure,and all of the
rest of the human-constructed industrial world,has to be rebuilt. Solar panels last
about 25-30 years. Wind Turbines about 50 years. Our industrial constructed world
has an immense amount of embedded fossil fuel energy. The mineral density of many ores are declining now,which means that the energy required to extract a given amount of mineral is increasing. I haven't done much reading on this site. No doubt someone has posted this link before. It gives a good idea of the scale of the construction required.
Natural ecosystems are quite different. The energy collection occurs using biodegradable
and recyclable materials,without the energy input of fossil fuels.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubic_mile_of_oil
notanoilman says: 12/03/2017 at 8:49 pm
You don't seem to have come across the concept of recycling.

NAOM

GoneFishing says: 12/03/2017 at 9:20 pm
This is just the typical FF anti-renewable blurb slightly rewritten. It has more holes in than Swiss cheese.
david higham says: 12/03/2017 at 9:50 pm
Have a read of the numbers in the link. All recycling requires energy. I don't know if anyone has done an analysis of the amount of energy
required,but it would be very large. It is also worth remembering that some of the minerals in that infrastructure are difficult to separate and
recycle.
notanoilman says: 12/03/2017 at 11:03 pm
Plenty of people have investigated recycling and are doing it. You obviously haven't. Even the Giga-Factory is building a recycling facility.

On the personal level, I have just replaced my washing machine and stove as the old ones were falling apart – literally. The stove is ready to go to the local recycler where it will be separated and then sent to be melted back to new steel. The washer will be checked over by a refurbisher who will decide if he can use it or it's parts and what is left will go to the recycler. Simple. All my waste metal goes to the recycler but, unfortunately, we have no glass recycling so that just has to go to land fill.

NAOM

Hightrekker says: 12/02/2017 at 11:04 pm
Diet pills?
Kinda makes sense.

Elton John blares so loudly on Donald Trump's campaign plane that staffers can't hear themselves think. Press secretary Hope Hicks uses a steamer to press Trump's pants -- while he is still wearing them. Trump screams at his top aides, who are subjected to expletive-filled tirades in which they get their "face ripped off."

And Trump's appetite seems to know no bounds when it comes to McDonald's, with a dinner order consisting of "two Big Macs, two Fillet-O-Fish, and a chocolate malted."
[ ]

In another episode, Lewandowski describes how staffer Sam Nunberg was purposely left behind at a McDonald's because Nunberg's special-order burger was taking too long. "Leave him," Trump said. "Let's go." And they did.

Trump's fast-food diet is a theme. "On Trump Force One there were four major food groups: McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, pizza and Diet Coke," the authors write.

The plane's cupboards were stacked with Vienna Fingers, potato chips, pretzels and many packages of Oreos because Trump, a renowned germaphobe, would not eat from a previously opened package.

The book notes that "the orchestrating and timing of Mr. Trump's meals was as important as any other aspect of his march to the presidency," and describes the elaborate efforts that Lewandowski and other top aides went through to carefully time their delivery of hot fast food to Trump's plane as he was departing his rallies.

https://digbysblog.blogspot.de/2017/12/hes-got-to-be-on-diet-pills.html

Hillary says: 12/03/2017 at 12:44 am
"two Big Macs, two Fillet-O-Fish, and a chocolate malted."

Oh let there be a god

GoneFishing says: 12/03/2017 at 11:01 am
One of the biggest problems we face as population and industry grows is obtaining enough fresh water. Sure there is a lot of water on the planet, but it is mostly salty.

Marcia Barbosa talks about the many anomalies of water and how exploiting them with nano-tubes could help address the problem of freshwater shortages.

Marcia Barbosa has a PhD in physics from Brazil's Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, where she is now the director of its Physics Institute. She studies the complex structure of the water molecule, and has developed a series of models of its properties which may contribute to our understanding of how earthquakes occur, how proteins fold, and could play an important role in generating cleaner energy and treating diseases. She is actively involved in promoting Women in Physics and was named the 2013 L'Oreal-UNESCO for Women in Science Awards Laureate for Latin America.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OLFwkfPxCg

Fred Magyar says: 12/03/2017 at 11:36 am
Tks, GF!
LOL! I'm head over heels in love with her!
I kept imagining her giving her talk to this sound track 😉
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wunq6YlcSX0
Can you see all the dancers dressed as raindrops on a Samba Float in a Carnival Parade?
Doug Leighton says: 12/03/2017 at 4:36 pm
Fred – As you know my bag is astrophysics, with climate change denial being merely irritating BUT when I see science news headlines like the following then I really get pissed off, or feel sick. Who gives a shit if Earth can "carry" 7 or 9 or 11 billion people when dolphins & elephants are relegated to "bush meat" and when species are disappearing at increasingly alarming rates. You're probably the only one here qualified to assess this issue so please give us your thoughts.

CURRENT EXTINCTION RATE 10 TIMES WORSE THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT

"Life on earth is remarkably diverse. Globally, it is estimated that there are 8.7 million species living on our planet, excluding bacteria. Unfortunately, human activities are wiping out many species and it's been known for some time that we are increasing the rate of species extinction. But just how dire is the situation? According to a new study, it's 10 times worse than scientists previously thought with current extinction rates 1,000 times higher than natural background rates."

http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/current-extinction-rate-10-times-worse-previously-thought/

Fred Magyar says: 12/03/2017 at 5:37 pm
Doug, if you get a chance, watch the ASU Origins project debates to which I have posted links recently addressing the topic of extinction. This is a very serious cross disciplinary discussion and can't really be done justice in a quick response here. It probably necessitates a full post of similar length to Ron's.

Here is a very short teaser.

Origins Project Highlight: Elizabeth Kolbert on Climate Change & Mars
https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLusJDXY5SZhWUbALfqiDpk9NGmIoT4n48&v=zTXHcNNiPk4

Link to ASU Origins Project home page:
https://origins.asu.edu/

GoneFishing says: 12/03/2017 at 7:53 pm
I look on space habitats as being trapped inside a giant iron lung. Exploration is one thing, but actually thinking of Mars as a possible home for humans is just sad.
Fred Magyar says: 12/03/2017 at 8:19 pm
Couldn't agree more! And that's from someone who lived and worked in a hyperbaric chamber as a saturation diver on oil rigs. I'd say that is pretty close to living in an iron lung as well 😉

The part about going to Mars that has always bothered me is the radiation exposure.

GoneFishing says: 12/03/2017 at 9:17 pm
Plenty of dangerous and exciting exploring, work and research to do right here on Earth.

[Nov 30, 2017] Money Imperialism by Michael Hudson

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Since World War II the United States has used the Dollar Standard and its dominant role in the IMF and World Bank to steer trade and investment along lines benefiting its own economy. But now that the growth of China's mixed economy has outstripped all others while Russia finally is beginning to recover, countries have the option of borrowing from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and other non-U.S. consortia. ..."
"... The problem with surrendering is that this Washington Consensus is extractive and lives in the short run, laying the seeds of financial dependency, debt-leveraged bubbles and subsequent debt deflation and austerity. The financial business plan is to carve out opportunities for price gouging and corporate profits. Today's U.S.-sponsored trade and investment treaties would make governments pay fines equal to the amount that environmental and price regulations, laws protecting consumers and other social policies might reduce corporate profits. "Companies would be able to demand compensation from countries whose health, financial, environmental and other public interest policies they thought to be undermining their interests, and take governments before extrajudicial tribunals. These tribunals, organised under World Bank and UN rules, would have the power to order taxpayers to pay extensive compensation over legislation seen as undermining a company's 'expected future profits.' ..."
"... At the center of today's global split are the last few centuries of Western social and democratic reform. Seeking to follow the classical Western development path by retaining a mixed public/private economy, China, Russia and other nations find it easier to create new institutions such as the AIIB than to reform the dollar standard IMF and World Bank. Their choice is between short-term gains by dependency leading to austerity, or long-term development with independence and ultimate prosperity. ..."
"... The price of resistance involves risking military or covert overthrow. Long before the Ukraine crisis, the United States has dropped the pretense of backing democracies. The die was cast in 1953 with the coup against Iran's secular government, and the 1954 coup in Guatemala to oppose land reform. Support for client oligarchies and dictatorships in Latin America in the 1960 and '70s was highlighted by the overthrow of Allende in Chile and Operation Condor's assassination program throughout the continent. Under President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the United States has claimed that America's status as the world's "indispensible nation" entitled it back the recent coups in Honduras and Ukraine, and to sponsor the NATO attack on Libya and Syria, leaving Europe to absorb the refugees. ..."
"... The trans-Atlantic financial bubble has left a legacy of austerity since 2008. Debt-ridden economies are being told to cope with their downturns by privatizing their public domain. ..."
"... The immediate question facing Germany and the rest of Western Europe is how long they will sacrifice their trade and investment opportunities with Russia, Iran and other economies by adhering to U.S.-sponsored sanctions. American intransigence threatens to force an either/or choice in what looms as a seismic geopolitical shift over the proper role of governments: Should their public sectors provide basic services and protect populations from predatory monopolies, rent extraction and financial polarization? ..."
"... Today's global financial crisis can be traced back to World War I and its aftermath. The principle that needed to be voiced was the right of sovereign nations not to be forced to sacrifice their economic survival on the altar of inter-government and private debt demands. The concept of nationhood embodied in the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia based international law on the principle of parity of sovereign states and non-interference. Without a global alternative to letting debt dynamics polarize societies and tear economies apart, monetary imperialism by creditor nations is inevitable. ..."
"... The past century's global fracture between creditor and debtor economies has interrupted what seemed to be Europe's democratic destiny to empower governments to override financial and other rentier interests. Instead, the West is following U.S. diplomatic leadership back into the age when these interests ruled governments. This conflict between creditors and democracy, between oligarchy and economic growth (and indeed, survival) will remain the defining issue of our epoch over the next generation, and probably for the remainder of the 21 st century. ..."
"... wiki/Anglo-Persian Oil Company "In 1901 William Knox D'Arcy, a millionaire London socialite, negotiated an oil concession with Mozaffar al-Din Shah Qajar of Persia. He financed this with capital he had made from his shares in the highly profitable Mount Morgan mine in Queensland, Australia. D'Arcy assumed exclusive rights to prospect for oil for 60 years in a vast tract of territory including most of Iran. In exchange the Shah received £20,000 (£2.0 million today),[1] an equal amount in shares of D'Arcy's company, and a promise of 16% of future profits." Note the 16% = ~1/6, the rest going off-shore. ..."
"... The Greens in Aus researched the resources sector in Aus, to find that it is 83% 'owned' by off-shore entities. Note that 83% = ~5/6, which goes off-shore. Coincidence? ..."
"... Note that in Aus, the democratically elected so-called 'leaders' not only allow exactly this sort of economic rape, they actively assist it by, say, crippling the central bank and pleading for FDI = selling our, we the people's interests, out. Those traitor-leaders are reversing 'Enlightenment' provisions, privatising whatever they can and, as Michael Hudson well points out the principles, running Aus into debt and austerity. ..."
"... US banking oligarchs will expend the last drop of our blood to prevent a such a linking, just as they were willing to sacrifice our blood and treasure in WW1 and 2, as is alluded to here.: ..."
"... The past century's global fracture between creditor and debtor economies has interrupted what seemed to be Europe's democratic destiny to empower governments to override financial and other rentier interests. Instead, the West is following U.S. diplomatic leadership back into the age when these interests ruled governments. This conflict between creditors and democracy, between oligarchy and economic growth (and indeed, survival) will remain the defining issue of our epoch over the next generation, and probably for the remainder of the 21st century. ..."
"... It's important to note that such interests have ruled (owned, actually) imperial Britain for centuries and the US since its inception, and the anti-federalists knew it. ..."
"... "After World War I the U.S. Government deviated from what had been traditional European policy – forgiving military support costs among the victors. U.S. officials demanded payment for the arms shipped to its Allies in the years before America entered the Great War in 1917. The Allies turned to Germany for reparations to pay these debts." The Yank banker, the Yankee Wall Street super rich, set off a process of greed that led to Hitler. ..."
"... But they didn't invent anything. They learned from their WASP forebears in the British Empire, whose banking back to Oliver Cromwell had become inextricably entangled with Jewish money and Jewish interests to the point that Jews per capita dominated it even at the height of the British Empire, when simpleton WASPs assume that WASPs truly ran everything, and that WASP power was for the good of even the poorest WASPs. ..."
"... The Berlin Baghdad railway was an important cause for WWI. ..."
"... Bingo. Stopping it was a huge factor. There was no way the banksters of the world were going to let that go forward, nor were they going to let Germany and Russia link up in any other ways. They certainly were not about to allow any threats to the Suez Canal nor any chance to let the oil fields slip from their control either. ..."
"... This is not how the Enlightenment was supposed to evolve ..."
"... In fact, this is exactly how it was supposed to work. The wave of liberal democracies was precisely to overturn the monarchies, which were the last bulwark protecting the people from the full tyranny of the financiers, who were, by nature, one-world internationalists. ..."
"... The real problem with this is that any form of monetary arrangement involves an implied trusteeship, with obligations on, as well as benefits for, the trustee. The US is so abusing its trusteeship through the continual use of an irresponsible sanctions regime that it risks a good portion of the world economy abandoning its system for someone else's, which may be perceived to be run more responsibility. The disaster scenario would be the US having therefore in the future to access that other system to purchase oil or minerals, and having that system do to us what we previously did to them -- sanction us out. ..."
"... " Marx believed that capitalism was inherently built upon practices of usury and thus inevitably leading to the separation of society into two classes: one composed of those who produce value and the other, which feeds upon the first one. In "Theories of Surplus Value" (written 1862-1863), he states " that interest (in contrast to industrial profit) and rent (that is the form of landed property created by capitalist production itself) are superfetations (i.e., excessive accumulations) which are not essential to capitalist production and of which it can rid itself." ..."
Nov 30, 2017 | www.unz.com

Money Imperialism Introduction to the German Edition Michael Hudson November 29, 2017 3,500 Words 1 Comment Reply

In theory, the global financial system is supposed to help every country gain. Mainstream teaching of international finance, trade and "foreign aid" (defined simply as any government credit) depicts an almost utopian system uplifting all countries, not stripping their assets and imposing austerity. The reality since World War I is that the United States has taken the lead in shaping the international financial system to promote gains for its own bankers, farm exporters, its oil and gas sector, and buyers of foreign resources – and most of all, to collect on debts owed to it.

Each time this global system has broken down over the past century, the major destabilizing force has been American over-reach and the drive by its bankers and bondholders for short-term gains. The dollar-centered financial system is leaving more industrial as well as Third World countries debt-strapped. Its three institutional pillars – the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and World Trade Organization – have imposed monetary, fiscal and financial dependency, most recently by the post-Soviet Baltics, Greece and the rest of southern Europe. The resulting strains are now reaching the point where they are breaking apart the arrangements put in place after World War II.

The most destructive fiction of international finance is that all debts can be paid, and indeed should be paid, even when this tears economies apart by forcing them into austerity – to save bondholders, not labor and industry. Yet European countries, and especially Germany, have shied from pressing for a more balanced global economy that would foster growth for all countries and avoid the current economic slowdown and debt deflation.

Imposing austerity on Germany after World War I

After World War I the U.S. Government deviated from what had been traditional European policy – forgiving military support costs among the victors. U.S. officials demanded payment for the arms shipped to its Allies in the years before America entered the Great War in 1917. The Allies turned to Germany for reparations to pay these debts. Headed by John Maynard Keynes, British diplomats sought to clean their hands of responsibility for the consequences by promising that all the money they received from Germany would simply be forwarded to the U.S. Treasury.

The sums were so unpayably high that Germany was driven into austerity and collapse. The nation suffered hyperinflation as the Reichsbank printed marks to throw onto the foreign exchange also were pushed into financial collapse. The debt deflation was much like that of Third World debtors a generation ago, and today's southern European PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain).

In a pretense that the reparations and Inter-Ally debt tangle could be made solvent, a triangular flow of payments was facilitated by a convoluted U.S. easy-money policy. American investors sought high returns by buying German local bonds; German municipalities turned over the dollars they received to the Reichsbank for domestic currency; and the Reichsbank used this foreign exchange to pay reparations to Britain and other Allies, enabling these countries to pay the United States what it demanded.

But solutions based on attempts to keep debts of such magnitude in place by lending debtors the money to pay can only be temporary. The U.S. Federal Reserve sustained this triangular flow by holding down U.S. interest rates. This made it attractive for American investors to buy German municipal bonds and other high-yielding debts. It also deterred Wall Street from drawing funds away from Britain, which would have driven its economy deeper into austerity after the General Strike of 1926. But domestically, low U.S. interest rates and easy credit spurred a real estate bubble, followed by a stock market bubble that burst in 1929. The triangular flow of payments broke down in 1931, leaving a legacy of debt deflation burdening the U.S. and European economies. The Great Depression lasted until outbreak of World War II in 1939.

Planning for the postwar period took shape as the war neared its end. U.S. diplomats had learned an important lesson. This time there would be no arms debts or reparations. The global financial system would be stabilized – on the basis of gold, and on creditor-oriented rules. By the end of the 1940s the United States held some 75 percent of the world's monetary gold stock. That established the U.S. dollar as the world's reserve currency, freely convertible into gold at the 1933 parity of $35 an ounce.

It also implied that once again, as in the 1920s, European balance-of-payments deficits would have to be financed mainly by the United States. Recycling of official government credit was to be filtered via the IMF and World Bank, in which U.S. diplomats alone had veto power to reject policies they found not to be in their national interest. International financial "stability" thus became a global control mechanism – to maintain creditor-oriented rules centered in the United States.

To obtain gold or dollars as backing for their own domestic monetary systems, other countries had to follow the trade and investment rules laid down by the United States. These rules called for relinquishing control over capital movements or restrictions on foreign takeovers of natural resources and the public domain as well as local industry and banking systems.

By 1950 the dollar-based global economic system had become increasingly untenable. Gold continued flowing to the United States, strengthening the dollar – until the Korean War reversed matters. From 1951 through 1971 the United States ran a deepening balance-of-payments deficit, which stemmed entirely from overseas military spending. (Private-sector trade and investment was steadily in balance.)

U.S. Treasury debt replaces the gold exchange standard

The foreign military spending that helped return American gold to Europe became a flood as the Vietnam War spread across Asia after 1962. The Treasury kept the dollar's exchange rate stable by selling gold via the London Gold Pool at $35 an ounce. Finally, in August 1971, President Nixon stopped the drain by closing the Gold Pool and halting gold convertibility of the dollar.

There was no plan for what would happen next. Most observers viewed cutting the dollar's link to gold as a defeat for the United States. It certainly ended the postwar financial order as designed in 1944. But what happened next was just the reverse of a defeat. No longer able to buy gold after 1971 (without inciting strong U.S. disapproval), central banks found only one asset in which to hold their balance-of-payments surpluses: U.S. Treasury debt. These securities no longer were "as good as gold." The United States issued them at will to finance soaring domestic budget deficits.

By shifting from gold to the dollars thrown off by the U.S. balance-of-payments deficit, the foundation of global monetary reserves came to be dominated by the U.S. military spending that continued to flood foreign central banks with surplus dollars. America's balance-of-payments deficit thus supplied the dollars that financed its domestic budget deficits and bank credit creation – via foreign central banks recycling U.S. foreign spending back to the U.S. Treasury.

In effect, foreign countries have been taxed without representation over how their loans to the U.S. Government are employed. European central banks were not yet prepared to create their own sovereign wealth funds to invest their dollar inflows in foreign stocks or direct ownership of businesses. They simply used their trade and payments surpluses to finance the U.S. budget deficit. This enabled the Treasury to cut domestic tax rates, above all on the highest income brackets.

U.S. monetary imperialism confronted European and Asian central banks with a dilemma that remains today: If they do not turn around and buy dollar assets, their currencies will rise against the dollar. Buying U.S. Treasury securities is the only practical way to stabilize their exchange rates – and in so doing, to prevent their exports from rising in dollar terms and being priced out of dollar-area markets.

The system may have developed without foresight, but quickly became deliberate. My book Super Imperialism sold best in the Washington DC area, and I was given a large contract through the Hudson Institute to explain to the Defense Department exactly how this extractive financial system worked. I was brought to the White House to explain it, and U.S. geostrategists used my book as a how-to-do-it manual (not my original intention).

Attention soon focused on the oil-exporting countries. After the U.S. quadrupled its grain export prices shortly after the 1971 gold suspension, the oil-exporting countries quadrupled their oil prices. I was informed at a White House meeting that U.S. diplomats had let Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries know that they could charge as much as they wanted for their oil, but that the United States would treat it as an act of war not to keep their oil proceeds in U.S. dollar assets.

This was the point at which the international financial system became explicitly extractive. But it took until 2009, for the first attempt to withdraw from this system to occur. A conference was convened at Yekaterinburg, Russia, by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The alliance comprised Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kirghizstan and Uzbekistan, with observer status for Iran, India, Pakistan and Mongolia. U.S. officials asked to attend as observers, but their request was rejected.

The U.S. response has been to extend the new Cold War into the financial sector, rewriting the rules of international finance to benefit the United States and its satellites – and to deter countries from seeking to break free from America's financial free ride.

The IMF changes its rules to isolate Russia and China

Aiming to isolate Russia and China, the Obama Administration's confrontational diplomacy has drawn the Bretton Woods institutions more tightly under US/NATO control. In so doing, it is disrupting the linkages put in place after World War II.

The U.S. plan was to hurt Russia's economy so much that it would be ripe for regime change ("color revolution"). But the effect was to drive it eastward, away from Western Europe to consolidate its long-term relations with China and Central Asia. Pressing Europe to shift its oil and gas purchases to U.S. allies, U.S. sanctions have disrupted German and other European trade and investment with Russia and China. It also has meant lost opportunities for European farmers, other exporters and investors – and a flood of refugees from failed post-Soviet states drawn into the NATO orbit, most recently Ukraine.

To U.S. strategists, what made changing IMF rules urgent was Ukraine's $3 billion debt falling due to Russia's National Wealth Fund in December 2015. The IMF had long withheld credit to countries refusing to pay other governments. This policy aimed primarily at protecting the financial claims of the U.S. Government, which usually played a lead role in consortia with other governments and U.S. banks. But under American pressure the IMF changed its rules in January 2015. Henceforth, it announced, it would indeed be willing to provide credit to countries in arrears other governments – implicitly headed by China (which U.S. geostrategists consider to be their main long-term adversary), Russia and others that U.S. financial warriors might want to isolate in order to force neoliberal privatization policies. [1] I provide the full background in "The IMF Changes its Rules to Isolate China and Russia," December 9, 2015, available on michael-hudson.com, Naked Capitalism , Counterpunch and Johnson's Russia List .

Article I of the IMF's 1944-45 founding charter prohibits it from lending to a member engaged in civil war or at war with another member state, or for military purposes generally. An obvious reason for this rule is that such a country is unlikely to earn the foreign exchange to pay its debt. Bombing Ukraine's own Donbass region in the East after its February 2014 coup d'état destroyed its export industry, mainly to Russia.

Withholding IMF credit could have been a lever to force adherence to the Minsk peace agreements, but U.S. diplomacy rejected that opportunity. When IMF head Christine Lagarde made a new loan to Ukraine in spring 2015, she merely expressed a verbal hope for peace. Ukrainian President Porochenko announced the next day that he would step up his civil war against the Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine. One and a half-billion dollars of the IMF loan were given to banker Ihor Kolomoiski and disappeared offshore, while the oligarch used his domestic money to finance an anti-Donbass army. A million refugees were driven east into Russia; others fled west via Poland as the economy and Ukraine's currency plunged.

The IMF broke four of its rules by lending to Ukraine: (1) Not to lend to a country that has no visible means to pay back the loan (the "No More Argentinas" rule, adopted after the IMF's disastrous 2001 loan to that country). (2) Not to lend to a country that repudiates its debt to official creditors (the rule originally intended to enforce payment to U.S.-based institutions). (3) Not to lend to a country at war – and indeed, destroying its export capacity and hence its balance-of-payments ability to pay back the loan. Finally (4), not to lend to a country unlikely to impose the IMF's austerity "conditionalities." Ukraine did agree to override democratic opposition and cut back pensions, but its junta proved too unstable to impose the austerity terms on which the IMF insisted.

U.S. neoliberalism promotes privatization carve-ups of debtor countries

Since World War II the United States has used the Dollar Standard and its dominant role in the IMF and World Bank to steer trade and investment along lines benefiting its own economy. But now that the growth of China's mixed economy has outstripped all others while Russia finally is beginning to recover, countries have the option of borrowing from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and other non-U.S. consortia.

At stake is much more than just which nations will get the contracting and banking business. At issue is whether the philosophy of development will follow the classical path based on public infrastructure investment, or whether public sectors will be privatized and planning turned over to rent-seeking corporations.

What made the United States and Germany the leading industrial nations of the 20 th century – and more recently, China – has been public investment in economic infrastructure. The aim was to lower the price of living and doing business by providing basic services on a subsidized basis or freely. By contrast, U.S. privatizers have brought debt leverage to bear on Third World countries, post-Soviet economies and most recently on southern Europe to force selloffs. Current plans to cap neoliberal policy with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) go so far as to disable government planning power to the financial and corporate sector.

American strategists evidently hoped that the threat of isolating Russia, China and other countries would bring them to heel if they tried to denominate trade and investment in their own national currencies. Their choice would be either to suffer sanctions like those imposed on Cuba and Iran, or to avoid exclusion by acquiescing in the dollarized financial and trade system and its drives to financialize their economies under U.S. control.

The problem with surrendering is that this Washington Consensus is extractive and lives in the short run, laying the seeds of financial dependency, debt-leveraged bubbles and subsequent debt deflation and austerity. The financial business plan is to carve out opportunities for price gouging and corporate profits. Today's U.S.-sponsored trade and investment treaties would make governments pay fines equal to the amount that environmental and price regulations, laws protecting consumers and other social policies might reduce corporate profits. "Companies would be able to demand compensation from countries whose health, financial, environmental and other public interest policies they thought to be undermining their interests, and take governments before extrajudicial tribunals. These tribunals, organised under World Bank and UN rules, would have the power to order taxpayers to pay extensive compensation over legislation seen as undermining a company's 'expected future profits.' "

[2] Lori M. Wallach, "The corporation invasion," La Monde Diplomatique , December 2, 2013, http://mondediplo.com/2013/12/02tafta . She adds: "Some investors have a very broad conception of their rights. European companies have recently launched legal actions against the raising of the minimum wage in Egypt; Renco has fought anti-toxic emissions policy in Peru, using a free trade agreement between that country and the US to defend its right to pollute (6). US tobacco giant Philip Morris has launched cases against Uruguay and Australia over their anti-smoking legislation." See also Yves Smith, "Germany Bucking Toxic, Nation-State Eroding Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership," Naked Capitalism , July 17, 2014, and "Germany Turning Sour on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership," Naked Capitalism, October 30, 2014.

This policy threat is splitting the world into pro-U.S. satellites and economies maintaining public infrastructure investment and what used to be viewed as progressive capitalism. U.S.-sponsored neoliberalism supporting its own financial and corporate interests has driven Russia, China and other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization into an alliance to protect their economic self-sufficiency rather than becoming dependent on dollarized credit enmeshing them in foreign-currency debt.

At the center of today's global split are the last few centuries of Western social and democratic reform. Seeking to follow the classical Western development path by retaining a mixed public/private economy, China, Russia and other nations find it easier to create new institutions such as the AIIB than to reform the dollar standard IMF and World Bank. Their choice is between short-term gains by dependency leading to austerity, or long-term development with independence and ultimate prosperity.

The price of resistance involves risking military or covert overthrow. Long before the Ukraine crisis, the United States has dropped the pretense of backing democracies. The die was cast in 1953 with the coup against Iran's secular government, and the 1954 coup in Guatemala to oppose land reform. Support for client oligarchies and dictatorships in Latin America in the 1960 and '70s was highlighted by the overthrow of Allende in Chile and Operation Condor's assassination program throughout the continent. Under President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the United States has claimed that America's status as the world's "indispensible nation" entitled it back the recent coups in Honduras and Ukraine, and to sponsor the NATO attack on Libya and Syria, leaving Europe to absorb the refugees.

Germany's choice

This is not how the Enlightenment was supposed to evolve. The industrial takeoff of Germany and other European nations involved a long fight to free markets from the land rents and financial charges siphoned off by their landed aristocracies and bankers. That was the essence of classical 19 th -century political economy and 20 th -century social democracy. Most economists a century ago expected industrial capitalism to produce an economy of abundance, and democratic reforms to endorse public infrastructure investment and regulation to hold down the cost of living and doing business. But U.S. economic diplomacy now threatens to radically reverse this economic ideology by aiming to dismantle public regulatory power and impose a radical privatization agenda under the TTIP and TAFTA.

Textbook trade theory depicts trade and investment as helping poorer countries catch up, compelling them to survive by becoming more democratic to overcome their vested interests and oligarchies along the lines pioneered by European and North American industrial economies. Instead, the world is polarizing, not converging. The trans-Atlantic financial bubble has left a legacy of austerity since 2008. Debt-ridden economies are being told to cope with their downturns by privatizing their public domain.

The immediate question facing Germany and the rest of Western Europe is how long they will sacrifice their trade and investment opportunities with Russia, Iran and other economies by adhering to U.S.-sponsored sanctions. American intransigence threatens to force an either/or choice in what looms as a seismic geopolitical shift over the proper role of governments: Should their public sectors provide basic services and protect populations from predatory monopolies, rent extraction and financial polarization?

Today's global financial crisis can be traced back to World War I and its aftermath. The principle that needed to be voiced was the right of sovereign nations not to be forced to sacrifice their economic survival on the altar of inter-government and private debt demands. The concept of nationhood embodied in the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia based international law on the principle of parity of sovereign states and non-interference. Without a global alternative to letting debt dynamics polarize societies and tear economies apart, monetary imperialism by creditor nations is inevitable.

The past century's global fracture between creditor and debtor economies has interrupted what seemed to be Europe's democratic destiny to empower governments to override financial and other rentier interests. Instead, the West is following U.S. diplomatic leadership back into the age when these interests ruled governments. This conflict between creditors and democracy, between oligarchy and economic growth (and indeed, survival) will remain the defining issue of our epoch over the next generation, and probably for the remainder of the 21 st century.

Endnotes

[1] I provide the full background in "The IMF Changes its Rules to Isolate China and Russia," December 9, 2015, available on michael-hudson.com, Naked Capitalism , Counterpunch and Johnson's Russia List .

[2] Lori M. Wallach, "The corporation invasion," La Monde Diplomatique , December 2, 2013, http://mondediplo.com/2013/12/02tafta . She adds: "Some investors have a very broad conception of their rights. European companies have recently launched legal actions against the raising of the minimum wage in Egypt; Renco has fought anti-toxic emissions policy in Peru, using a free trade agreement between that country and the US to defend its right to pollute ( 6 ). US tobacco giant Philip Morris has launched cases against Uruguay and Australia over their anti-smoking legislation." See also Yves Smith , " Germany Bucking Toxic, Nation-State Eroding Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership ," Naked Capitalism , July 17, 2014 , and " Germany Turning Sour on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership ," Naked Capitalism, October 30, 2014 .

Priss Factor , Website November 30, 2017 at 5:28 am GMT

More like Dollar Supremacism

The Alarmist , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 8:02 am GMT

"Austerity" is such a misused word these days. What the Allies did to Germany after Versailles was austerity, and everyone paid dearly for it.

What the IMF and the Western Banking Cartel do to third world countries is akin to a pusher hopping up addicts on debt and then taking it away while stripping them of their assets, pretty much hurting only the people of the third world country; certainly not the WBC, and almost certainly not the criminal elite who took the deal.

The Austerity everyone complains about in the developed world these days is a joke, hardly austerity, for it has never meant more than doing a little less deficit-spending than in prior periods, e.g. UK Labour whining about "Austerity" is a joke, as the UK debt has done nothing but grow, which in terms understandable to simple folk like me means they are spending more than they can afford to carry.

jilles dykstra , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 8:15 am GMT
" The immediate question facing Germany and the rest of Western Europe is how long they will sacrifice their trade and investment opportunities with Russia, Iran and other economies by adhering to U.S.-sponsored sanctions "

In the whole article not a word about the euro, also an instrument of imperialism, that mainly benefits Germany, the country that has to maintain a high level of exports, in order to feed the Germans, and import raw materials for Germany's industries.

Isolating China and Russia, with the other BRICS countries, S Africa, Brazil, India, dangerous game.
This effort forced China and Russia to close cooperation, the economic expression of this is the Peking Petersburg railway, with a hub in Khazakstan, where the containers are lifted from the Chinese to the Russian system, the width differs.
Four days for the trip.
The Berlin Baghdad railway was an important cause for WWI.
Let us hope that history does not repeat itself in the nuclear era.

Edward Mead Earle, Ph.D., 'Turkey, The Great Powers and The Bagdad Railway, A study in Imperialism', 1923, 1924, New York

jacques sheete , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 11:29 am GMT
Another excellent article.

The U.S. response has been to extend the new Cold War into the financial sector, rewriting the rules of international finance to benefit the United States and its satellites – and to deter countries from seeking t o break free from America's financial free ride .

Nah, the NY banksters wouldn't dream of doing such a thing; would they?

skrik , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 11:29 am GMT

This is not how the Enlightenment was supposed to evolve

What I said, and beautifully put, the whole article.

World War I may well have been an important way-point, but the miserable mercantile modus operandi was well established long before.

An interesting A/B case:

a) wiki/Anglo-Persian Oil Company "In 1901 William Knox D'Arcy, a millionaire London socialite, negotiated an oil concession with Mozaffar al-Din Shah Qajar of Persia. He financed this with capital he had made from his shares in the highly profitable Mount Morgan mine in Queensland, Australia. D'Arcy assumed exclusive rights to prospect for oil for 60 years in a vast tract of territory including most of Iran. In exchange the Shah received £20,000 (£2.0 million today),[1] an equal amount in shares of D'Arcy's company, and a promise of 16% of future profits." Note the 16% = ~1/6, the rest going off-shore.

b) The Greens in Aus researched the resources sector in Aus, to find that it is 83% 'owned' by off-shore entities. Note that 83% = ~5/6, which goes off-shore. Coincidence?

Then see what happened when the erstwhile APOC was nationalized; the US/UK perpetrated a coup against the democratically elected Mossadegh, eventual blow-back resulting in the 1979 revolution, basically taking Iran out of 'the West.'

Note that in Aus, the democratically elected so-called 'leaders' not only allow exactly this sort of economic rape, they actively assist it by, say, crippling the central bank and pleading for FDI = selling our, we the people's interests, out. Those traitor-leaders are reversing 'Enlightenment' provisions, privatising whatever they can and, as Michael Hudson well points out the principles, running Aus into debt and austerity.

We the people are powerless passengers, and to add insult to injury, the taxpayer-funded AusBC lies to us continually. Ho, hum; just like the mainly US/Z MSM and the BBC do – all corrupt and venal. Bah!

Now, cue the trolls: "But Russia/China are worse!"

jacques sheete , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 12:04 pm GMT

The immediate question facing Germany and the rest of Western Europe is how long they will sacrifice their trade and investment opportunities with Russia, Iran and other economies by adhering to U.S.-sponsored sanctions.

US banking oligarchs will expend the last drop of our blood to prevent a such a linking, just as they were willing to sacrifice our blood and treasure in WW1 and 2, as is alluded to here.:

Today's global financial crisis can be traced back to World War I and its aftermath.

Excellent.:

The principle that needed to be voiced was the right of sovereign nations not to be forced to sacrifice their economic survival on the altar of inter-government and private debt demands Without a global alternative to letting debt dynamics polarize societies and tear economies apart, monetary imperialism by creditor nations is inevitable.

This is a gem of a summary.:

The past century's global fracture between creditor and debtor economies has interrupted what seemed to be Europe's democratic destiny to empower governments to override financial and other rentier interests. Instead, the West is following U.S. diplomatic leadership back into the age when these interests ruled governments. This conflict between creditors and democracy, between oligarchy and economic growth (and indeed, survival) will remain the defining issue of our epoch over the next generation, and probably for the remainder of the 21st century.

Instead, the West is following U.S. diplomatic leadership back into the age when these interests ruled governments. It's important to note that such interests have ruled (owned, actually) imperial Britain for centuries and the US since its inception, and the anti-federalists knew it.

Here is a revolution as radical as that which separated us from Great Britain.

You will find all the strength of this country in the hands of your enemies [ ed comment: the money grubbers ]

Patrick Henry June 5 and 7, 1788―1788-1789 Petersburg, Virginia edition of the Debates and other Proceedings . . . Of the Virginia Convention of 1788

The Constitution had been laid down under unacceptable auspices; its history had been that of a coup d'état.

It had been drafted, in the first place, by men representing special economic interests. Four-fifths of them were public creditors, one-third were land speculators, and one-fifth represented interests in shipping, manufacturing, and merchandising. Most of them were lawyers. Not one of them represented the interest of production -- Vilescit origine tali.

- Albert Jay Nock [Excerpted from chapter 5 of Albert Jay Nock's Jefferson, published in 1926]

Biff , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 12:39 pm GMT
The golden rule is one thing. The paper rule is something else. May you live in interesting times.
Jake , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 2:09 pm GMT
"After World War I the U.S. Government deviated from what had been traditional European policy – forgiving military support costs among the victors. U.S. officials demanded payment for the arms shipped to its Allies in the years before America entered the Great War in 1917. The Allies turned to Germany for reparations to pay these debts." The Yank banker, the Yankee Wall Street super rich, set off a process of greed that led to Hitler.

But they didn't invent anything. They learned from their WASP forebears in the British Empire, whose banking back to Oliver Cromwell had become inextricably entangled with Jewish money and Jewish interests to the point that Jews per capita dominated it even at the height of the British Empire, when simpleton WASPs assume that WASPs truly ran everything, and that WASP power was for the good of even the poorest WASPs.

Joe Hide , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 2:12 pm GMT
To Michael Hudson,
Great article. Evidence based, factually argued, enjoyably readable.
Replacements for the dollar dominated financial system are well into development. Digital dollars, credit cards, paypal, stock and currency exchange online platforms, and perhaps most intriguing The exponential rise of Bitcoin and similar crypto-currencies.

The internet is also exponentially exposing the screwing we peasants have been getting by the psychopath, narcissistic, hedonistic, predatory lenders and controllers. Next comes the widespread, easily usable, and inexpensive cell phone apps, social media exposures, alternative websites (like Unz.com), and other technologies that will quickly identify every lying, evil, jerk so they can be neutrilized / avoided

The Alarmist , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 2:13 pm GMT

"Textbook trade theory depicts trade and investment as helping poorer countries catch up, compelling them to survive by becoming more democratic to overcome their vested interests and oligarchies along the lines pioneered by European and North American industrial economies."

I must be old; the economic textbooks I had did explain the benefits of freer trade among nations using Ricardo and Trade Indifference Curves, but didn't prescribe any one political system being fostered by or even necessary for the benefits of international trade to be reaped.

Astuteobservor II , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 2:26 pm GMT
to be honest, this way of running things only need to last for 10-20 more years before automation will replace 800 million jobs. then we will have a few trillionaire overlords unless true AI comes online. by that point nothing matters as we will become zoo animals.
jacques sheete , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 2:36 pm GMT
@The Alarmist

What the IMF and the Western Banking Cartel do to third world countries is akin to a pusher hopping up addicts on debt and then taking it away while stripping them of their assets, pretty much hurting only the people of the third world country; certainly not the WBC, and almost certainly not the criminal elite who took the deal.

That's true and the criminals do similar asset stripping to their own as well, through various means.

It's always the big criminals against the rest of us.

jacques sheete , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 2:48 pm GMT
@jilles dykstra

The Berlin Baghdad railway was an important cause for WWI.

Bingo. Stopping it was a huge factor. There was no way the banksters of the world were going to let that go forward, nor were they going to let Germany and Russia link up in any other ways. They certainly were not about to allow any threats to the Suez Canal nor any chance to let the oil fields slip from their control either.

The wars were also instigated to prevent either Germany or Russia having control of, and free access to warm water ports and the wars also were an excuse to steal vast amounts of wealth from both Germany and Russia through various means.

All pious and pompous pretexts aside, economics was the motive for (the) war (s), and the issues are not settled to this day. I.e., it's the same class of monstrously insatiable criminals who want everything for themselves who're causing the major troubles of the day.

Unfortunately, as long as we have SoB's who're eager to sacrifice our blood and treasure for their benfit, things will never change.

jacques sheete , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 2:51 pm GMT

The golden rule is one thing. The paper rule is something else.

May you live in interesting times.

The golden rule is for dreamers, unfortunately. Those who control paper money rule, and your wish has been granted; we live in times that are both interesting and fascinating, but are nevertheless the same old thing. Only the particular particulars have changed.

Michael Kenny , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 3:01 pm GMT
Essentially, the anti-EU and anti-euro line that Professor Hudson has being pushing for years, which has now morphed into a pro-Putin line as the anti-EU faction in the US have sought to use Putin as a "useful idiot" to destroy the EU. Since nobody in Europe reads these articles, Ii doesn't really matter and I certainly don't see any EU leader following the advice of someone who has never concealed his hostility to the EU's very existence: note the use of the racist slur "PIIGS" to refer to certain EU Member States. Thus, Professor Hudson is simply pushing the "let Putin win in Ukraine" line dressed up in fine-sounding economic jargon.
jacques sheete , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 3:54 pm GMT

Since nobody in Europe reads these articles, Ii doesn't really matter

None of it rally matters anyway, no matter how valid. To paraphrase Thucydides, the money grubbers do what they want and the rest of us are forced to suck it up and limp along.

and I certainly don't see any EU leader following the advice

I doubt that that's Hudson's intent in writing the article. I see it as his attempt to explain the situation to those of us who care about them even though our concern is pretty much useless.

I do thank him for taking the time to pen this stuff which I consider worthwhile and high quality.

Anonymous , Disclaimer Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 4:08 pm GMT
That sounds good but social media is the weapon of choice in the EU too. Lot's of kids know and love Hudson. Any half capable writer who empathetically explains why you're getting fucked is going to have some followers. Watering, nutrition, weeding. Before too long you'll be on the Eurail to your destination.
Wally , Website Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 4:23 pm GMT
@Jake

said: "The Yank banker, the Yankee Wall Street super rich, set off a process of greed that led to Hitler." If true, so what? That's a classic example of 'garbage in, garbage out'. http://www.codoh.com

nickels , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 4:48 pm GMT

This is not how the Enlightenment was supposed to evolve

In fact, this is exactly how it was supposed to work. The wave of liberal democracies was precisely to overturn the monarchies, which were the last bulwark protecting the people from the full tyranny of the financiers, who were, by nature, one-world internationalists.

William McAdoo , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 5:08 pm GMT
The real problem with this is that any form of monetary arrangement involves an implied trusteeship, with obligations on, as well as benefits for, the trustee. The US is so abusing its trusteeship through the continual use of an irresponsible sanctions regime that it risks a good portion of the world economy abandoning its system for someone else's, which may be perceived to be run more responsibility. The disaster scenario would be the US having therefore in the future to access that other system to purchase oil or minerals, and having that system do to us what we previously did to them -- sanction us out.

The proper use by the US of its controlled system thus should be a defensive one -- mainly to act so fairly to all players that it, not someone else, remains in control of the dominant worldwide exchange system. This sensible course of conduct, unfortunately, is not being pursued by the US.

joe webb , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 10:11 pm GMT
there is fuzzy, and then there is very fuzzy, and then there is the fuzziness compounded many-fold. The latter is this article.

Here from wiki: "

" Marx believed that capitalism was inherently built upon practices of usury and thus inevitably leading to the separation of society into two classes: one composed of those who produce value and the other, which feeds upon the first one. In "Theories of Surplus Value" (written 1862-1863), he states " that interest (in contrast to industrial profit) and rent (that is the form of landed property created by capitalist production itself) are superfetations (i.e., excessive accumulations) which are not essential to capitalist production and of which it can rid itself."

Wiki goes on to identify "rentier" as used by Marx, to be the same thing as "capitalists." What the above quotation says is that capitalism CAN rid itself of genuine rent capital. First, the feudal rents that were extracted by landowners were NOT part of a free market system. Serfdom was only one part of unfree conditions. A general condition of anarchy in rules and laws by petty principalities characteristic of feudalism, both contained commerce and human beings. There was no freedom, political or economic.

The conflation (collapsing) of rents and interest is a Marxist error which expands into complete nonsense when a competitive economy has replaced feudal conditions. ON top of that, profits from a business, firm, or industrial enterprise are NOT rents.

Any marxist is a fool to pretend otherwise, and is just another ideological (False consciousness ) fanatic.

... ... ...

Wally, Next New Comment December 1, 2017 at 1:49 am GMT
@Michael Kenny

Indeed, Putin should be praised & supported. But where is the proof that 'Russia & Trump colluded to get Trump elected'? You also ignore the overwhelming Crimean support for returning to Russia. And you won't like this at all: Trump Declares "National Day for the Victims of Communism." https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/11/07/national-day-victims-communism Hence, the Liars of the scamming "Holocau$t Industry" go crazy: https://www.salon.com/2017/11/07/trumps-national-day-for-the-victims-of-communism-is-opposite-of-holocaust-statement/

ThreeCranes , December 1, 2017 at 3:34 am GMT
@jilles dykstra

Germany loans money back to the poorer nations who buy her exports just as China loans money to the United States (they purchase roughly a third of our Treasury bonds) so that Americans can continue to buy Chinese manufactured goods.

The role to be played by the USA in the "new world order" is that of being the farmer to the world. The meticulous Asians will make stuff.

The problem with this is that it is based on 19th century notions of manufacturing. Technique today is vastly more complicated than it was in the 1820′s and a nation must do everything in its power to protect and nurture its manufacturing and scientific excellence. In the United States we have been giving this away to our competitors. We educate their children at our taxpayer's expense and they take the knowledge gained back to their native countries where, with state subsidies, they build factories that put Americans out of work. We fall further and further behind.

[Nov 30, 2017] Oil Prices Could Jump To $80 Next Year by Tsvetana Paraskova

Nov 30, 2017 | oilprice.com

Strong global economic growth and Saudi Arabia bringing a risk premium to oil prices could send Brent oil prices surging to $80 next year , more than 25 percent compared to current prices, according to economist Jim O'Neill, a former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

At 11:59am EST on Monday, Brent Crude was down 0.79 percent at $63.01 .

"While oil prices could be about $60 per barrel in November 2018, my guess is that they will have risen to about $80 per barrel in the meantime," O'Neill wrote in Barron's on Saturday.

Although the economist himself admits that predicting oil prices is a tough job at which he failed when he said in January 2015 that prices would not continue to fall, he now differs from most of the analysts who expect oil prices to be around $60 next year. O'Neill doesn't believe that oil prices will stagnate for a year.

On the demand side, world economic growth has picked up this year "and is now probably growing at a rate of 4 percent or higher. With the exception of India and the United Kingdom, eight of the 10 largest economies are expanding at the same time," O'Neill said.

Although many oil consuming countries try to lessen their dependence on oil, the transition won't take place overnight, so the oil market is adjusting to stronger demand, the economist notes. Looking at the supply side, events in Saudi Arabia are suddenly adding a premium to oil prices. "The Saudi government has been implementing radical changes, both domestically and in its foreign policy, and its reasons for doing so are not entirely clear," O'Neill writes. In addition, the economist argues that the Brent spot price has now moved above the five-year forward price, which suggests that a trend change may be underway. "For my part, I'm unsure, but I wouldn't be surprised if it happened," O'Neill says, referring to the trend change.

for Oilprice.com

[Nov 30, 2017] Venezuela Could Lose A Lot More Oil Production

Nov 30, 2017 | oilprice.com

Venezuela's oil production has been sliding for years, but the descent accelerated in 2015 amid low oil prices and a deteriorating cash position for PDVSA and the government. Production dipped below 1.9 million barrels in recent weeks, the lowest level in more than three decades.

The problems will only grow worse, especially because they tend to snowball. Without cash, PDVSA will struggle to import diluent to blend with its heavy oil – the result could be steeper production losses. Again, without cash, existing facilities cannot be maintained, likely leading to an accelerating pace of decline. An array of refineries are "completely paralyzed," the head of an oil workers union told Bloomberg. Defaults on more debt payments could spark retaliation from creditors, which could eventually put oil exports in jeopardy.

In short, the woes in Venezuela's oil industry contributed to the crisis, but the dire economic situation will accelerate the decline of oil production.

A group of analysts told Bloomberg that they expect Venezuela's output to average 1.84 mb/d in 2018, a level that seems surprisingly optimistic given the pace of decline underway. Other analysts predict output will plunge much lower.

[Nov 30, 2017] Oil Prices Could Jump To $80 Next Year by Tsvetana Paraskova

Nov 30, 2017 | oilprice.com

Strong global economic growth and Saudi Arabia bringing a risk premium to oil prices could send Brent oil prices surging to $80 next year , more than 25 percent compared to current prices, according to economist Jim O'Neill, a former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

At 11:59am EST on Monday, Brent Crude was down 0.79 percent at $63.01 .

"While oil prices could be about $60 per barrel in November 2018, my guess is that they will have risen to about $80 per barrel in the meantime," O'Neill wrote in Barron's on Saturday.

Although the economist himself admits that predicting oil prices is a tough job at which he failed when he said in January 2015 that prices would not continue to fall, he now differs from most of the analysts who expect oil prices to be around $60 next year. O'Neill doesn't believe that oil prices will stagnate for a year.

On the demand side, world economic growth has picked up this year "and is now probably growing at a rate of 4 percent or higher. With the exception of India and the United Kingdom, eight of the 10 largest economies are expanding at the same time," O'Neill said.

Although many oil consuming countries try to lessen their dependence on oil, the transition won't take place overnight, so the oil market is adjusting to stronger demand, the economist notes. Looking at the supply side, events in Saudi Arabia are suddenly adding a premium to oil prices. "The Saudi government has been implementing radical changes, both domestically and in its foreign policy, and its reasons for doing so are not entirely clear," O'Neill writes. In addition, the economist argues that the Brent spot price has now moved above the five-year forward price, which suggests that a trend change may be underway. "For my part, I'm unsure, but I wouldn't be surprised if it happened," O'Neill says, referring to the trend change.

for Oilprice.com

[Nov 30, 2017] Venezuela Could Lose A Lot More Oil Production

Nov 30, 2017 | oilprice.com

Venezuela's oil production has been sliding for years, but the descent accelerated in 2015 amid low oil prices and a deteriorating cash position for PDVSA and the government. Production dipped below 1.9 million barrels in recent weeks, the lowest level in more than three decades.

The problems will only grow worse, especially because they tend to snowball. Without cash, PDVSA will struggle to import diluent to blend with its heavy oil – the result could be steeper production losses. Again, without cash, existing facilities cannot be maintained, likely leading to an accelerating pace of decline. An array of refineries are "completely paralyzed," the head of an oil workers union told Bloomberg. Defaults on more debt payments could spark retaliation from creditors, which could eventually put oil exports in jeopardy.

In short, the woes in Venezuela's oil industry contributed to the crisis, but the dire economic situation will accelerate the decline of oil production.

A group of analysts told Bloomberg that they expect Venezuela's output to average 1.84 mb/d in 2018, a level that seems surprisingly optimistic given the pace of decline underway. Other analysts predict output will plunge much lower.

[Nov 29, 2017] Michael Hudson: The Wall Street Economy is Draining the Real Economy

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... An interview by Gordon T. Long of the Financial Repression Authority. Originally published at his website ..."
"... One of the most important distinctions that investors have to understand is the difference between secular and cyclical trends Let us begin with definitions from the Encarta® World English Dictionary: ..."
"... Secular – occurring only once in the course of an age or century; taking place over an extremely or indefinitely long period of time ..."
"... Cycle – a sequence of events that is repeated again and again, especially a causal sequence; a period of time between repetitions of an event or phenomenon that occurs regularly ..."
"... Secular stagnation is when the predators of finance have eaten too many sheeple. ..."
"... Real estate rents in this latest asset bubble, whether commercial or residential, appear to have been going up in many markets even if the increases are slowing. That rent inflation will likely turn into rent deflation, but that doesn't appear to have happened yet consistently. ..."
"... Barter has always existed and always will. Debt money expands and contracts the middle class, acting as a feedback signal, which never works over the long term, because the so encapsulated system can only implode, when natural resource liquidation cannot be accelerated. The whole point is to eliminate the initial requirement for capital, work. Debt fails because both sides of the same coin assume that labor can be replaced. The machines driven by dc technology are not replacing labor; neither the elites nor the middle class can fix the machines, which is why they keep accelerating debt, to replace one failed technology only to be followed by the next, netting extortion by whoever currently controls the debt machine, which the majority is always fighting over, expending more energy to avoid work, like the objective is to avoid sweating, unless you are dumb enough to run on asphalt with Nike gear. ..."
"... . . . The whole argument for privatization, for instance, is the opposite of what was taught in American business schools in the 19th century. The first professor of economics at the Wharton School of Business, which was the first business school, was Simon Patten. He said that public infrastructure is a fourth factor of production. But its role isn't to make a profit . It's to lower the cost of public services and basic inputs to lower the cost of living and lower the cost of doing business to make the economy more competitive. But privatization adds interest payments, dividends, managerial payments, stock buybacks, and merges and acquisitions . Obviously these financialized charges are factored into the price system and raise the cost of living and doing business . ..."
www.nakedcapitalism.com
April 29, 2016 by Yves Smith An interview by Gordon T. Long of the Financial Repression Authority. Originally published at his website

GORDON LONG: Thank you for joining us. I'm Gordon Long with the Financial Repression Authority. It's my pleasure to have with me today Dr. Michael Hudson Professor Hudson's very well known in terms of the FIRE economy to-I think, to a lot of our listeners, or at least he's recognized by many as fostering that concept. A well known author, he has published many, many books. Welcome, Professor Hudson.

MICHAEL HUDSON: Yes.

LONG: Let's just jump into the subject. I mentioned the FIRE economy cause I know that I have always heard it coming from yourself-or, indirectly, not directly, from yourself. Could you explain to our listeners what's meant by that terminology?

HUDSON: Well it's more than just people getting fired. FIRE is an acronym for Finance, Insurance and Real Estate. Basically that sector is about assets, not production and consumption. And most people think of the economy as being producers making goods and services and paying labor to produce them – and then, labour is going to buy these goods and services. But this production and consumption economy is surrounded by the asset economy: the web of Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate of who owns assets, and who owes the debts, and to whom.

LONG: How would you differentiate it (or would you) with what's often referred to as financialization, or the financialization of our economy? Are they one and the same?

HUDSON: Pretty much. The Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate sector is dominated by finance. 70 to 80% of bank loans in North America and Europe are mortgage loans against real estate. So instead of a landowner class owning property clean and clear, as they did in the 19 th century, now you have a democratization of real estate. 2/3 or more of the population owns their own home. But the only way to buy a home, or commercial real estate, is on credit. So the loan-to-value ratio goes up steadily. Banks lend more and more money to the real estate sector. A home or piece of real estate, or a stock or bond, is worth whatever banks are willing to lend against it

As banks loosen their credit terms, as they lower their interest rates, take lower down payments, and lower amortization rates – by making interest-only loans – they are going to lend more and more against property. So real estate is bid up on credit. All this rise in price is debt leverage. So a financialized economy is a debt-leveraged economy, whether it's real estate or insurance, or buying an education, or just living. And debt leveraging means that a larger proportion of assets are represented by debt. So debt equity ratios rise. But financialization also means that more and more of people's income and corporate and government tax revenue is paid to creditors. There's a flow of revenue from the production-and-consumption economy to the financial sector.

LONG: I don't know if you know Richard Duncan. He was with the IMF, etc, and lives in Thailand. He argues right now that capitalism is no longer functioning, and really what he refers to what we have now is "creditism." Because in capitalism we have savings that are reinvested into productive assets that create productivity, which leads to a higher level of living. We're not doing that. We have no savings and investments. Credit is high in the financial sector, but it's not being applied to productive assets. Is he valid in that thinking?

HUDSON: Not as in your statement. It's confused.

LONG: Okay.

HUDSON: There's an enormous amount of savings. Gross savings. The savings we have that are mounting up are just about as large as they've ever been – about, 18-19% of the US economy. They're counterpart is debt. Most savings are lent out to borrowers se debt. Basically, you have savers at the top of the pyramid, the 1% lending out their savings to the 99%. The overall net savings may be zero, and that's what your stupid person from the IMF meant. But gross savings are much higher. Now, the person, Mr. Duncan, obviously-I don't know what to say when I hear this nonsense. Every economy is a credit economy.

Let's start in Ancient Mesopotamia. The group that I organized out of Harvard has done a 20-study of the origins of economic structuring in the Bronze Age, even the Neolithic, and the Bronze Age economy – 3200 BC going back to about 1200 BC. Suppose you're a Babylonian in the time of Hammurabi, about 1750 BC, and you're a cultivator. How do you buy things during the year? Well, if you go to the bar, to an ale woman, what she'd do is write down the debt that you owe. It was to be paid on the threshing floor. The debts were basically paid basically once a year when the income was there, on the threshing floor when the harvest was in. If the palace or the temples would advance animals or inputs or other public services, this would be as a debt. It was all paid in grain, which was monetized for paying debts to the palace, temples and other creditors.

The IMF has this Austrian theory that pretends that money began as barter and that capitalism basically operates on barter. This always is a disinformation campaign. Nobody believed this in times past, and it is a very modern theory that basically is used to say, "Oh, debt is bad." What they really mean is that public debt is bad. The government shouldn't create money, the government shouldn't run budget deficits but should leave the economy to rely on the banks. So the banks should run and indebt the economy.

You're dealing with a public relations mythology that's used as a means of deception for most people. You can usually ignore just about everything the IMF says. If you understand money you're not going to be hired by the IMF. The precondition for being hired by the IMF is not to understand finance. If you do understand finance, you're fired and blacklisted. That's why they impose austerity programs that they call "stabilization programs" that actually are destabilization programs almost wherever they're imposed.

LONG: Is this a lack of understanding and adherence to the wrong philosophy, or how did we get into this trap?

HUDSON: We have an actively erroneous view, not just a lack of understanding. This is not by accident. When you have an error repeated year after year after year, decade after decade after decade, it's not really insanity doing the same thing thinking it'll be different. It's sanity. It's doing the same thing thinking the result will be the same again and again and again. The result will indeed be austerity programs, making budget deficits even worse, driving governments further into debt, further into reliance on the IMF. So then the IMF turns them to the knuckle breakers of the World Bank and says, "Oh, now you have to pay your debts by privatization". It's the success. The successful error of monetarism is to force countries to have such self-defeating policies that they end up having to privatize their natural resources, their public domain, their public enterprises, their communications and transportation, like you're seeing in Greece's selloffs. So when you find an error that is repeated, it's deliberate. It's not insane. It's part of the program, not a bug.

LONG: Where does this lead us? What's the roadmap ahead of us here?

HUDSON: A thousand years ago, if you were a marauding gang and you wanted to take over a country's land and its natural resources and public sector, you'd have to invade it with military troops. Now you use finance to take over countries. So it leads us into a realm where everything that the classical economists saw and argued for – public investment, bringing costs in line with the actual cost of production – that's all rejected in favor of a rentier class evolving into an oligarchy. Basically, financiers – the 1% – are going to pry away the public domain from the government. Pry away and privatize the public enterprises, land, natural resources, so that bondholders and privatizers get all of the revenue for themselves. It's all sucked up to the top of the pyramid, impoverishing the 99%.

LONG: Well I think most people, without understanding economics, would instinctively tell you they think that's what's happening right now, in some way.

HUDSON: Right. As long as you can avoid studying economics you know what's happened. Once you take an economics course you step into brainwashing. It's an Orwellian world.

LONG: I think you said it perfectly well there. Exactly. It gets you locked into the wrong way of thinking as opposed to just basic common sense. Your book is Killing the Host . What was the essence of its message? Was it describing exactly what we're talking about here?

HUDSON: Finance has taken over the industrial economy, so that instead of finance becoming what it was expected to be in the 19 th century, instead of the banks evolving from usurious organizations that leant to governments, mainly to wage war, finance was going to be industrialized. They were going to mobilize savings and recycle it to finance the means of production, starting with heavy industry. This was actually happening in Germany in the late 19 th century. You had the big banks working with government and industry in a triangular process. But that's not what's happening now. After WW1 and especially after WW2, finance reverted to its pre-industrial form. Instead of allying themselves with industry, as banks were expected to do, banks allied themselves with real estate and monopolies, realizing that they can make more money off real estate.

The bank spokesman David Ricardo argued against the landed interest in 1817, against land rent. Now the banks are all in favor of supporting land rent, knowing that today, when people buy and sell property, they need credit and pay interest for it. The banks are going to get all the rent. So you have the banks merge with real estate against industry, against the economy as a whole. The result is that they're part of the overhead process, not part of the production process.

LONG: There's a sense that there's a crisis lying ahead in the next year, two years, or three years. The mainstream economy's so disconnected from Wall Street economy. What's your view on that?

HUDSON: It's not disconnected at all. The Wall Street economy has taken over the economy and is draining it. Under what economics students are taught as Say's Law, the economy's workers are supposed to use their income to buy what they produce. That's why Henry Ford paid them $5 a day, so that they could afford to buy the automobiles they were producing.

LONG: Exactly.

HUDSON: But Wall Street is interjecting itself into the economy, so that instead of the circular flow between producers and consumers, you have more and more of the flow diverted to pay interest, insurance and rent. In other words, to pay the FIRE sector. It all ends up with the financial sector, most of which is owned by the 1%. So, their way of formulating it is to distract attention from today's debt quandary by saying it's just a cycle, or it's "secular stagnation." That removes the element of agency – active politicking by the financial interests and Wall Street lobbyists to obtain all the growth of income and wealth for themselves. That's what happened in America and Canada since the late 1970s.

LONG: What does an investor do today, or somebody who's looking for retirement, trying to save for the future, and they see some of these things occurring. What should they be thinking about? Or how should they be protecting themselves?

HUDSON: What all the billionaires and the heavy investors do is simply try to preserve their wealth. They're not trying to make money, they're not trying to speculate. If you're an investor, you're not going to outsmart Wall Street billionaires, because the markets are basically fixed. It's the George Soros principle. If you have so much money, billions of dollars, you can break the Bank of England. You don't follow the market, you don't anticipate it, you actually make the market and push it up, like the Plunge Protection Team is doing with the stock market these days. You have to be able to control the prices. Insiders make money, but small investors are not going to make money.

Since you're in Canada, I remember the beginning of the 1960s. I used to look at the Treasury Bulletin and Federal Reserve Bulletin figures on foreign investment in the US stock market. We all used to laugh at Canada especially. The Canadians don't buy stocks until they're up to the very top, and then they lose all the money by holding these stocks on the downturn. Finally, when the market's all the way at the bottom, Canadians decide to begin selling because they finally can see a trend. So they miss the upswing until they decide to buy at the top once again. It's hilarious to look at how Canada has performed in the US bond market, and they did the same in the silver market. I remember when silver was going up to $50. The Canadians said, "Yes, we can see the trend now!" and they began to buy it. They lost their shirts. So, basically, if you're a Canadian investor, move.

LONG: So the Canadian investors are a better contrarian indicator than the front page cover, you're saying.

HUDSON: I'd think so. Once they get in, you know the bubble's over.

LONG: Absolutely on that one. What are you currently writing? What is your current focus now?

HUDSON: Well, I just finished a book. You mentioned Killing the Host . My next book will be out in about three months: J is for Junk Economics . It began as a dictionary of terms, so I can provide people with a vocabulary. As we got in the argument at the beginning of your program today, our argument is about the vocabulary we're using and the words you're using. The vocabulary taught to students today in economics – and used by the mass media and by government spokesmen – is basically a set of euphemisms. If you look at the television reports on the market, they say that any loss in the stock market isn't a loss, it's "profit taking". And when they talk about money. the stock market rises – "Oh that's good news." But it's awful news for the short sellers it wipes out. Almost all the words we get are kind of euphemisms to conceal the actual dynamics that are happening. For instance, "secular stagnation" means it's all a cycle. Even the idea of "business cycles": Nobody in the 19 th century used the word "business cycle". They spoke about "crashes". They knew that things go up slowly and then they plunge very quickly. It was a crash. It's not the sine curve that you have in Josef Schumpeter's book on Business Cycles . It's a ratchet effect: slow up, quick down. A cycle is something that is automatic, and if it's a cycle and you have leading and lagging indicators as the National Bureau of Economic Research has. Then you'd think "Oh, okay, everything that goes up will come down, and everything that goes down will come up, just wait your turn." And that means governments should be passive.

Well, that is the opposite of everything that's said in classical economics and the Progressive Era, when they realized that economies don't recover by themselves. You need a-the government to step in, you need something "exogenous," as economist say. You need something from outside the system to revive it. The covert idea of this business cycle analysis is to leave out the role of government. If you look at neoliberal and Austrian theory, there's no role for government spending, and no role of public investment. The whole argument for privatization, for instance, is the opposite of what was taught in American business schools in the 19 th century. The first professor of economics at the Wharton School of Business, which was the first business school, was Simon Patten. He said that public infrastructure is a fourth factor of production. But its role isn't to make a profit. It's to lower the cost of public services and basic inputs to lower the cost of living and lower the cost of doing business to make the economy more competitive. But privatization adds interest payments, dividends, managerial payments, stock buybacks, and merges and acquisitions. Obviously these financialized charges are factored into the price system and raise the cost of living and doing business.

LONG: Well, Michael, we're-I thank you for the time, and we're up against our hard line. I know we didn't have as much time as we always like, so we have to break. Any overall comments you'd like to leave with our listeners who might be interested this school of economics?

HUDSON: Regarding the downturn we're in, we're going into a debt deflation. The key of understanding the economy is to look at debt. The economy has to spend more and more money on debt service. The reason the economy is not recovering isn't simply because this is a normal cycle. And It's not because labour is paid too much. It's because people are diverting more and more of their income to paying their debts, so they can't afford to buy goods. Markets are shrinking – and if markets are shrinking, then real estate rents are shrinking, profits are shrinking. Instead of using their earnings to reinvest and hire more labour to increase production, companies are using their earnings for stock buybacks and dividend payouts to raise the share price so that the managers can take their revenue in the form of bonuses and stocks and live in the short run. They're leaving their companies as bankrupt shells, which is pretty much what hedge funds do when they take over companies.

So the financialization of companies is the reverse of everything Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, and everyone you think of as a classical economist was saying. Banks wrap themselves in a cloak of classical economics by dropping history of economic thought from the curriculum, which is pretty much what's happened. And Canada-I know since you're from Canada, my experience there was that the banks have a huge lobbying power over government. In 1979, I wrote for the IRPP Institute there on Canada In the New Monetary Order . At that time the provinces of Canada were borrowing money from Switzerland and Germany because they could borrow it at much lower interest rates. I said that this was going to be a disaster, and one that was completely unnecessary. If Canadian provinces borrow in Francs or any other foreign currency, this money goes into the central bank, which then creates Canadian dollars to spend. Why not have the central bank simply create these dollars without having Swiss francs, without having German marks? It's unnecessary to have an intermediary. But the more thuggish banks, like the Bank of Nova Scotia, said, "Oh, that way's the road to serfdom." It's not. Following the banks and the Austrian School of the banks' philosophy, that's the road to serfdom. That's the road to debt serfdom. It should not be taken now. It lets universities and the government be run by neoliberals. They're a travesty of what real economics is all about.

LONG: Michael, thank you very much. I learned a lot, appreciate it; certainly appreciate how important it is for us to use the right words on the right subject when we're talking about economics. Absolutely agree with you. Talk to you again?

HUDSON: Going to be here.

LONG: Thank you for the time.

Donald , April 29, 2016 at 7:33 am

Interesting, but after insulting Duncan, Hudson says the banks stopped partnering with industry and went into real estate, which sounded like what Duncan said.

I mention this because for a non- expert like myself it is sometimes difficult to tell when an expert is disagreeing with someone for good reasons or just going off half- cocked. I followed what Hudson said about the evils of the IMF, but didn't see where Duncan had defended any of that, unless it was implicit in saying that capitalism used to function better.

Alejandro , April 29, 2016 at 9:06 am

Michael Hudson from the interview;

"As we got in the argument at the beginning of your program today, our argument is about the vocabulary we're using and the words you're using. The vocabulary taught to students today in economics – and used by the mass media and by government spokesmen – is basically a set of euphemisms ."Almost all the words we get are kind of euphemisms to conceal the actual dynamics that are happening."

May consider it's about recognizing and deciphering the "doublespeak", "newspeak", "fedspeak", "greenspeak" etc, whether willing or unwitting using words for understanding and clarifying as opposed to misleading and confusing dialectic as opposed to sophistry.

Michael Hudson , April 29, 2016 at 9:54 am

What I objected to was the characterization of today's situation as "financialization." I explained that financialization is the FIRST stage - when finance WORKS. We are now in the BREAKDOWN of financialization - toward the "barter" stage.
Treating "finance" as an end stage rather than as a beginning stage overlooks the dynamics of breakdown. It is debt deflation. First profits fall, and as that occurs, rents on commercial property decline. This is already widespread here in New York, from Manhattan (8th St. near NYU is half empty) to Queens (Austin St. in Forest Hills.).

Leonard C.Tekaat , April 29, 2016 at 12:19 pm

I wrote an article you might be interested in reading. It outlines a tax policy which would help prevent what you are discussing in your article. The abuse of credit to receive rents and long term capital gains.

The title is "Congress Financialized Our Economy And Created Financial Crisis & More Poverty" Go to http://www.taxpolicyusa.wordpress.com

SomeCallMeTim , April 29, 2016 at 5:23 pm

Thank you for another eye-opening exposition. My political economy education was negative (counting a year of Monetarism and Austrian Economics around 1980), so I appreciate your interviews as correctives.

From your interview answer to the question about what we, the 99+% should do,I gathered only that we should not try to beat the market. Anything more than that?

Skippy , April 29, 2016 at 8:33 pm

From my understanding, post Plaza banking lost most of its traditional market to the shadow sector, as a result, expanded off into C/RE and increasingly to Financialization of everything sundry.

Disheveled Marsupial interesting to note Mr. Hudson's statement about barter, risk factors – ?????

Eduardo Quince , April 29, 2016 at 7:41 am

"secular stagnation" means it's all a cycle

Actually not.

One of the most important distinctions that investors have to understand is the difference between secular and cyclical trends Let us begin with definitions from the Encarta® World English Dictionary:

Secular – occurring only once in the course of an age or century; taking place over an extremely or indefinitely long period of time

Cycle – a sequence of events that is repeated again and again, especially a causal sequence; a period of time between repetitions of an event or phenomenon that occurs regularly

Excerpted from: http://contrarianinvestorsjournal.com/?p=405#

cnchal , April 29, 2016 at 8:30 am

Secular stagnation from http://lexicon.ft.com/Term?term=secular-stagnation

Secular stagnation is a condition of negligible or no economic growth in a market-based economy . When per capita income stays at relatively high levels, the percentage of savings is likely to start exceeding the percentage of longer-term investments in, for example, infrastructure and education, that are necessary to sustain future economic growth. The absence of such in