Tom Murphy’s back, yay!

Physicist Tom Murphy is one of the brightest and most articulate people in the overshoot awareness space.

A decade ago Murphy wrote frequently for a few years on his blog “Do the Math” where he explored the energy opportunities and constraints for powering our civilization. Then, having said what he wanted to say, he went silent.

Here is some of Murphy’s work that I’ve posted in the past which includes my all time favorite talk on limits to growth:

Today Murphy announced that he has published a new textbook titled “Energy and Human Ambitions on a Finite Planet” which can be downloaded for free.

After a long hiatus from teaching the general education energy course at UCSD—due mostly to a heavy administrative role for five years—I picked it up again for Winter quarter 2020. I had always been discontented when it came to textbook choices: my sense was that they tended to play it safe to avoid the risk of being provocative. But provocative may be what our situation calls for! I had been inspired by David MacKay’s fabulous and quantitatively rich Sustainability: Without the Hot Air, but its focus on the UK and not-quite-textbook format kept me from adopting it for the classroom.

So I set out to capture key elements of Do the Math in a textbook for the Winter 2020 class, following a somewhat similar trajectory: growth limits; fossil fuels and climate change; alternative energy capabilities and pros/cons; concluding with a dose of human factors and personal adaptation strategies.


Where is humanity going? How realistic is a future of fusion and space colonies? What constraints are imposed by physics, by resource availability, and by human psychology? Are default expectations grounded in reality?

This textbook, written for a general-education audience, aims to address these questions without either the hype or the indifference typical of many books. The message throughout is that humanity faces a broad sweep of foundational problems as we inevitably transition away from fossil fuels and confront planetary limits in a host of unprecedented ways—a shift whose scale and probable rapidity offers little historical guidance.

Salvaging a decent future requires keen awareness, quantitative assessment, deliberate preventive action, and—above all—recognition that prevailing assumptions about human identity and destiny have been cruelly misshapen by the profoundly unsustainable trajectory of the last 150 years. The goal is to shake off unfounded and unexamined expectations, while elucidating the relevant physics and encouraging greater facility in quantitative reasoning.

After addressing limits to growth, population dynamics, uncooperative space environments, and the current fossil underpinnings of modern civilization, various sources of alternative energy are considered in detail— assessing how they stack up against each other, and which show the greatest potential. Following this is an exploration of systemic human impediments to effective and timely responses, capped by guidelines for individual adaptations resulting in reduced energy and material demands on the planet’s groaning capacity. Appendices provide refreshers on math and chemistry, as well as supplementary material of potential interest relating to cosmology, electric transportation, and an evolutionary perspective on humanity’s place in nature.

I skimmed the book to assess its tone. Murphy is trying to strike a balance between being honest about the difficulties we face, while not saying that civilization collapse is a certainty, and offers some constructive suggestions for how his young students might respond. It’s a similar (and understandable) strategy that Nate Hagens, another well known overshoot teacher has taken.

Here are a few excerpts filled with wise words from Murphy’s book:

19.1 No Master Plan

The “adults” of this world have not established a global plan for peace and prosperity. This has perhaps worked okay so far: a plan hasn’t been necessary. But as the world changes from an “empty” state in which humans were a small part of the planet with little influence to a new “full” regime where human impacts are many and global in scale, perhaps the “no plan” approach is the wrong framework going forward.

19.2 No Prospects for a Plan

Not only do we lack a plan for how to live within planetary limits, we may not even have the capacity to arrive at a consensus long-term plan. Even within a country, it can be hard to converge on a plan for alternative energy, a different economic model, a conservation plan for natural resources, and possibly even different political structures. These can represent extremely big changes. Political polarization leaves little room for united political action. The powerful and wealthy have little interest in substantial structural changes that may imperil their current status. And given peoples’ reluctance to embrace austerity and take personal responsibility for their actions, it is hard to understand why a politician in a democracy would feel much political pressure to make long-term decisions that may result in short-term hardship—real or perceived.

Globally, the prospects may be even worse: competition between countries stymies collective decision-making. The leaders of a country are charged with optimizing the prosperity of their own country—not that of the whole world, and even less Earth’s ecosystems. If a number of countries did act in the global interest, perhaps by voluntarily reducing their fossil fuel purchases in an effort to reduce global fossil fuel use, it stands to reason that other countries may take advantage of the resulting price drops to acquire more fossil fuels than they would have otherwise—defeating the original purpose. Then the participating countries will feel that they self-penalized for no good reason. Unless all relevant nations are on board and execute a plan, it will be hard to succeed at global initiatives. The great human experiment has never before faced this daunting a set of global, inter-related problems. The lack of a global authority to whom countries must answer may make global challenges almost impossible to mitigate. Right now, it is a free-for-all, sort-of like 200 kids lacking any adult supervision.

20.1 Awareness

How many people do you know who are concerned about a legitimate threat of collapse of our civilization? It is an extreme outcome, and one without modern precedent. It seems like a fringe, alarmist position that is uncomfortable to even talk about in respectable company. Yet the evidence on the ground points to many real concerns:

1. The earth has never had to accommodate 8 billion people at this level of resource demand;

2. Humankind has never run out of a resource as vital as fossil fuels;

3. Humans have never until now altered the atmosphere to the point of changing the planet’s thermal equilibrium;

4. We have never before witnessed species extinction at this rate, or seen such dramatic changes to wild spaces and to the ocean.

20.3.1 Overall Framing

In the absence of a major shift in public attitudes toward energy and resource usage, motivated individuals can control their own footprints via personal decisions. This can be a fraught landscape, as some people may try to out-woke each other and others will resist any notion of giving up freedoms or comforts—only exacerbated by a sense of righteous alienation from the “do-gooders.”

Some basic guidelines on effective adaptation:

1. Choose actions based on some analysis of impact: don’t bother with superficial stuff, even if it’s trendy.

2. Don’t simply follow a list of actions or impart a list on others: choose a more personalized adventure based on quantitative assessment.

3. Avoid showing off. It is almost better to treat personal actions as secrets. Others may simply notice those choices and ask about them, rather than you bringing them up.

4. Resist the impulse to ask: “what should I buy to signal that I’m environmentally responsible?” Consumerism and conspicuous consumption are a large part of the problem. Buying new stuff is perhaps counterproductive and may not be the best path.

5. Be flexible. Allow deviations. Rigid adherence makes life more difficult and might inconvenience others, which can be an unwelcome imposition. Such behavior makes your choices less palatable to others, and therefore less likely to be adopted or replicated.

6. Somewhat related to the last point, chill out a bit. Every corner of your life does not have to be perfect. We live in a deeply imperfect world, so that exercising a 30% footprint compared to average is pretty darned good, and not that much different than a “more perfect” 25%. Doing a few big things means more than doing a lot of little things that may drive you (and others) crazy.

7. In the end, it has to matter to you what you’re doing and why. It’s not for the benefit of others.

20.4 Values Shifts

In the end, a bold reformulation of the human approach to living on this planet will only succeed if societal values change from where they are now. Imagine if the following activities were frowned upon—found distasteful and against social norms:

1. keeping a house warm enough in winter to wear shorts inside;

2. keeping a house so cool in summer that people’s feet get cold;

3. having 5 cars in an oversized garage;

4. accumulating enough air miles to be in a special “elite” club;

5. taking frequent, long, hot showers;

6. using a clothes dryer during a non-rainy period;

7. having a constant stream of delivery vehicles arrive at the door;

8. a full waste bin each week marking high consumption;

9. having a high-energy-demand diet (frequent meat consumption);

10. upgrading a serviceable appliance, disposing of the old;

11. wasteful lighting.

At present, many of these activities connote success and are part of a culture of “conspicuous consumption.” If such things ran counter to the sensibilities of the community, the behaviors would no longer carry social value and would be abandoned. The social norms in some Scandinavian countries praise egalitarianism and find public displays of being “better” or of having more money/stuff to be in poor taste. Abandonment of consumerist norms could possibly work, but only if it stems from a genuine understanding of the negative consequences. If curtailment of resource-heavy activities is imposed by some authority or is otherwise reluctantly adopted, it will not be as likely to transform societal values.

20.6 Upshot on Strategies

No one can know what fate awaits us, or control the timing of whatever unfolds. But individuals can take matters into their own hands and adopt practices that are more likely to be compatible with a future defined by reduced resource availability. We can learn to communicate future concerns constructively, with out being required to paint an artificial picture of hope. Our actions and choices, even if not showcased, can serve as inspiration for others—or at least can be personally rewarding as an impactful adventure. Quantitative assessment of energy and resource demands empowers individuals to make personal choices carrying large impacts. Reductions of factors of 2 and 3 and 4 are not out of reach. Maybe the world does not need 18 TW to be happy. Maybe we don’t have to work so hard to maintain a peaceful and rewarding lifestyle once growth is not the driver. Maybe we can re-learn how to adapt to the seasons and be fulfilled by a more intimate connection with nature. The value of psychological preparedness should not underestimated. By staring unblinking into the abyss, we are ready to cope with disruption, should it come. And if it never does in our lifetimes, what loss do we really suffer if we have chosen our adventure and lived our personal values?

In this sense, the best adaptation comes in the form of a mental shift. Letting go of humanity’s self-image as a growth juggernaut, and finding an “off-ramp” to a more rewarding lifestyle in close partnership with nature is the main goal. Continuing the freeway metaphor, the current path has us hurtling forward to certain involuntary termination of growth (a dead end, or cliff, or brick wall), very probably resulting in overshoot and/or crash.

The guidelines provided in this chapter for quantifying and reducing resource demands then simply become the initial outward expressions of this fresh vision. Ignore the potentially counterproductive allure of fusion, teleportation, and warp drive. Embrace instead a humbler, slower, more feasible future that stresses natural harmony over conquest and celebrates life in all forms—while preserving and advancing the knowledge and understanding of the universe we have worked so hard to achieve. Picture a future citizen of this happier world looking back at the present age as embarrassingly misguided and inexplicably delusional. Earth is a partner, not a possession to be exploited. Figuratively throwing Earth under the bus precludes our own chances for long-term success. A common phrasing of this sentiment is that humans are a part of nature, not apart from nature. Let’s not lose the path in a flight of fossil-fueled fantasy.

March 22, 2021 Update: Tom Murphy wrote a post highlighting the ideas from his book that will be new for Do the Math readers, and asking for our help to promote his free book.

Textbook Tour

Last week, in the first Do the Math post in years, I kept the post brief, only pointing out the new textbook: Energy and Human Ambitions on a Finite Planet, and giving a brief account of the backstory.

In this post, I take a bit more time to introduce new elements in the book that Do the Math readers have not seen represented in some form in earlier posts. In other words: what new insights or calculations lurk within the book?

The following is organized into three sections. The first takes a brief tour of the book, pointing out large, new blocks that are not already covered by Do the Math in some form. The second highlights the results of new calculations or figures that bring new context to our understanding. Finally, I summarize some of the new big-picture framing that emerges in the book.

Rather than laboriously inserting associated graphics into this post, my intent is that you treat this as a companion to be used side-by-side with the downloadable PDF of the book. References are to sections, figures, boxes, etc. rather than page numbers, which vary between electronic and print forms. So go ahead and get a version of the PDF up, and let’s jump in…

Brief Tour of New Content

The Preface may be worth reading for overall framing and motivation. The middle part about student learning and approach to mathematics/problems might not be as worthwhile, but the beginning and end are likely of interest.

The first four chapters attempt to lay out constraints on growth, initially hewing closely to the first two Do the Math posts on Galactic Scale Energy and Can Economic Growth Last. Chapter 3 on population echoes some points in The Real Population Problem, but adds substantial analysis of the demographic transition. I felt this was an important addition because many academics look to this mechanism to “solve” the population problem. What I point out is that the transition is a double-whammy for planetary resources: even though the result is zero-growth, the road to that point involves a population surge and increasing resource usage per capita. More people multiplied by a higher per-capita resource use is bad news for resource constraints. The dream, therefore, has a nightmarish element that might be neglected by many because demographic transitions of the past were not constrained in this way and seemed to be very positive, on balance. A recurring message: the highly abnormal recent past offers poor guidance to the future. Finally, Chapter 4 echoes the popular Why Not Space post, closing off this exit—or at least prompting the invested believers to cast the book aside and waste their time in a manner more to their liking.

Chapter 5 is a dry one on units, and does not exist on Do the Math except in a static page called Useful Energy Relations. Chapter 6 consolidates several posts on thermal energy and heat pumps. Chapter 7 is basically new, as a snapshot of U.S. and global energy and plots of recent trends.

Elements of Chapter 8 on fossil fuels can be found among the Do the Math posts—especially those on peak oil. But no overview of fossil fuels really existed on the blog. Chapter 9 on climate change is similar to the Recipe for Climate Change in Two Easy Steps, but is considerably expanded to detail the expected impact on temperature, explore limiting-case scenarios for the future, and delve into the thermal requirements for heating the ocean and melting ice.

Chapter 10 provides an overview of Earth’s energy budget and introduces the alternative and renewable energy options. This short chapter has no direct analog in Do the Math.

The heart of the book covers topics that do not change much over time: technologies for harnessing alternative energy. Prices might change, but the fundamentals tend not to. Thus, Chapters 11 through 16 largely echo Do the Math content. Note that the writing itself is new, and has benefited from extensive student feedback to improve clarity and accessibility. So it’s not a cut-and-paste job, but the overall take-aways are going to be familiar to Do the Math readers. Chapter 17 is the book’s version of The Alternative Energy Matrix, and is the closest thing to cut-and-paste in the book, being billed as a slightly edited reproduction of an existing chapter in the State of the World 2013 book.

The two main changes in the alternative energy chapters have to do with solar prices going down (now at under $3/Watt for residential and $1/Watt for utility-scale installations; the panels themselves being $0.50/Watt) and new recommendations for wind-farm turbine spacing, lowering the estimated power per land area available. I also added state-by-state maps for hydroelectricity, wind, and solar photovoltaic utilization in the U.S., for four different attributes (total power, power per area, power per person, and capacity factor).

The last three chapters depart the most from Do the Math content, although containing familiar elements like an exploration of personality types and a description of the Energy Trap. Chapter 20 bears some resemblance to posts on household energy and dietary choices. But the packaging may be different enough that it does not feel like repetition of Do the Math.

The Epilogue is completely new, and likely of interest to Do the Math readers.

Appendix D is the most thoughtful Appendix. Of greatest interest will be D.3 on electric transportation, D.5 on the long view of human success, and D.6 on an evolutionary perspective regarding human intelligence and how that may or may not mesh well in the natural world.

Highlights of New Results

The following tidbits are arranged in chronological order, and for the sake of brevity only represent the more thought-provoking additions.

In Chapter 2, Figure 2.3 on lighting efficiency progress surprised me in that the same 2.3% growth rate adopted for Chapters 1 and 2 on growth of energy fits the lighting history rather well. If the trend continues, we reach theoretical limits well before century’s end.

Chapter 3 has one new development and one new presentation of interest. The development is the recognition that the population surge associated with a demographic transition is proportional to the exponential of the change in birth/death rate times the lag between declining death rate and declining birth rate (Figure 3.16). The factor can easily more than double the pre-transition population. The new presentation is in Figure 3.17, exposing how preposterous the “dream” scenario looks of advancing a growing population to “western” energy standards by the year 2100. Substances that facilitate such delusions are usually illegal.

The only thing I’ll say about Chapter 4 here is that I planted an (accurate) Easter egg in Figure 4.2—only applicable to the electronic version.

I was surprised by Figure 7.9, showing the U.S. as a literal super-power (as measured in Watts) in the mid-twentieth century—using more than 80% of global natural gas and over 70% of global petroleum. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that some Americans long to return to these “glory” years (not at all glorious for less privileged individuals, it should be noted). The mistake is thinking that it’s a matter of choice. America’s dominant role in the world had a resource foundation, and that ship has sailed. It’s not a matter of politics: it’s physics, and anger won’t solve it.

Figure 8.8 made an impression on me as well. A simple calculation based on discovery and consumption of conventional oil, as presented in Figure 8.7, provides a measure of how many years appear to remain in the resource. Simply dividing unconsumed reserves by current consumption gives a timescale, and this can be tracked as a function of time as new discoveries accumulate and consumption rate increases. The startling result is that the predicted endpoint has not budged from around the year 2050 for about four decades! I caution readers not to take this literally to mean that oil runs out in 2050. First, the plot only applies to conventional oil reserves. Second, reduced consumption rate due to scarcity, prices, policy directives, or suitable substitutes will mean a tapering beyond 2050 rather than abrupt termination. Still, it’s a relevant and alarming data point: conventional oil is unlikely to persist in its present dominance for even three more decades! I think that’s big news, people. How many decades old are you?

A number of new results accompany Chapter 9 on climate change. Most rewardingly, I “took it up a notch” from the previous calculations of annual and cumulative CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and used annual data on fossil fuel use to produce a graphs of emissions from the three fossil fuels across time (Figure 9.3). Doing so shows coal’s prominence as the king of CO2 emitters—now and throughout the past. Since we still have more coal than any other fossil fuel, it may just be the gift that keeps on giving. But most remarkable was the exercise of plotting the predicted emission on top of measurements in Figure 9.4. Prior to this, I was satisfied by getting the annual and cumulative emission numbers to match measurements. But to see it graphically: faithfully following the curvature and lying right atop the measurements brought a smile of despair to my face. The same approach lends itself well to exploring CO2 emissions scenarios for fossil fuel expenditures going forward: what happens if we cease growth in consumption; if we replace all coal with natural gas; or if we taper off entirely by 2100 or 2050. Only the last, draconian option limits the ultimate temperature rise to 2.0°C, according to my math.

I also had some “fun” in Chapter 9 stepping through the process by which a radiative imbalance equilibrates (Figure 9.15), and computing the timescales for melting ice and heating up the ocean (section 9.4.2).

Box 13.3 in Chapter 13 looks at solar-powered transportation. Why had I never before computed that a Boeing 737 could only get 4% of its cruise power from direct solar power? It’s an important demonstration of physical limitations.

Box 14.3 computes the thickness of all life on the planet, if squashed to a uniform layer surrounding the globe. It’s 4 mm thick! Or should I say 4 mm thin? That’s precious thin: a fragile wafer. It’s what makes this planet special, and our own lives possible. That’s the ultimate treasure of the planet, and deserves every protection we can offer.

Figures 15.14 and 15.15 are my attempt to explain the origin of nuclear waste, and why the neutron-rich daughter nuclei are radioactive hazards. This resurfaces in Figure 15.19 on nuclear waste radiated power, which I derived from probabilities and decay energies found in the Chart of the Nuclides. On another front, a quick-and-dirty financial assessment for both fission and fusion does not put them in a favorable light against (also expensive) solar, while solar is much safer.

The only good part about Chapter 16 is the fish duo in Figure 16.2.

Box 17.1 is a bit of a follow-up to Box 13.3 on solar transportation, exploring electric (battery-powered) passenger airplanes, concluding that for the same “fuel” load, range would be cut by a factor of 20 (to about 200 km), making them sort-of useless.

Chapter 17 also introduces an alternative scoring of the Matrix, based on student weights for the ten attributes of each source. I was interested to see if the fossil fuel gap persists (it does), and if the rankings change (mostly, they don’t).

Box 19.1 takes a stab at quantifying the dollar value of Earth. It’s a crude approach, and not entirely defensible. But even under dubious assumptions, the resulting price is so preposterously large that the point is fairly robust: Earth is far more valuable than our global annual economy, by as much as a factor of a million. Decisions based on money (i.e., most decisions) are therefore woefully misguided. Earth and its ecosystems should come first in societal decisions. Sorry if capitalism gets hurt in the process. Money ceases to have meaning without a life-bearing planet. Priorities!

Chapter 20 works to frame individual adaptation and quantitative assessment of energy footprints. The biggest new piece is the quantitative toolset developed in Section 20.3.4 for assessing dietary energy impact. I think this kind of analysis has the potential to meaningfully reshape our habits and expectations around food choices.

Section D.3 in the Appendices represents a first attempt on my part to nail down the implications of electrified transport for shipping as well as personal transport. Part of the work was already done for Box 17.1 (airplanes), but I had never put pencil to paper on cargo ships or long-haul trucking. The results address the “why can’t we just…” musings on electrifying all transportation. It’s hard. Table D.2 is still new enough to me that I need to study it more and internalize it.

Big Stuff

Okay—that takes care of the nuts-and-bolts additions. What larger messages might emerge from the textbook that may not have been apparent in previous Do the Math content?

Life is Precious

Much of the focus of this blog, and of the textbook, is on energy and resources. But a consistent undercurrent advocates prioritizing nature above ourselves. See, for instance, the reference to Box 14.3 in the section above. Also, Box 19.1—in computing the monetary value of the planet—stresses the backwards way we assess value. We put the flea (economy) in charge of the dog (Earth), ignoring the important fact that the flea can’t live without the dog. An upcoming post will illustrate this theme in an absurd yet compelling manner.

In the end, as the Epilogue wraps up, I try to encapsulate this in a message to the future (but not too soon to adopt the message now!!): Treat nature at least as well as we treat ourselves. It’s a partnership, and the health of the former is a prerequisite to the health of the latter.

Focus on the Long Term

Chapters 18 and 19 discuss the limitations of short-term focus in the face of our challenges. Democracy and business interests tend to have a very short focus, making us vulnerable to the Energy Trap.

But Section D.5 in the Appendix takes this to an expansive vista. It starts with the observation that civilization (cities, agriculture) began roughly 10,000 years ago. Lest we be nearer our end than the beginning, we should be thinking about practices consistent with another 10,000 years on this planet, at least. Maintaining uninterrupted civilization (preserving knowledge without a catastrophic reset) for this long is what we will call successful. Failure to do so is, well, failure.

What would it take to achieve success? As spelled out in section D.5, almost nothing we do today contributes to ultimate success. Therefore most of our actions today only make failure more likely. To me, that is sad to contemplate. Each passing day that we do not prioritize the natural world makes ultimate success a more distant prospect.

Section D.6 follows this up with musings on the role of human intelligence in an evolutionary context. My conclusion is that evolution tinkers, and is capable of producing a being that is too smart to succeed. We have the power to create our own failure, and take many species down with us. It’s time to “ask not” what we can do with our power, but what we should do to best ensure a long, rewarding existence in partnership with the rest of nature.

This Moment is Abnormal

Perhaps the most important message the new textbook can convey is that the abnormality of the last few centuries has turned us into the worst judges of future possibilities. Several times in the book, I compare the present era to a fireworks show: dazzling, awe inspiring, and a short-lived exception to “normal” activity. At least we can appreciate the aberration that a fireworks display represents by comparing it to a longer baseline: we have a broader context. Yet for those born and raised entirely within the fireworks show, it is easy to understand how their world view would be badly distorted.

Margin note 12 in Chapter 2 and the one below it points out our tendency to extrapolate, and think that just because we got “lucky” once (finding and learning to exploit fossil fuels) does not mean the trend will continue indefinitely. People often process the abnormality of our time in a dangerous way: because people 200 years ago could not possibly have predicted the amazing life of today, we are equally ill-equipped to fathom the miracles of tomorrow. I appreciate the bigness of thought that it takes to conceive of this. It’s a fair and alluring point. But it also ignores data and context: physical limits; a “full” earth; exhaustion of one-time resources; climate change perils; systemic collapses in ecosystems around the globe. Please work harder to incorporate these “wrinkles” into an otherwise grand notion.

Somewhat relatedly, margin note 24 in Chapter 2 and note 11 in the Epilogue make reference to the “Boy Who Cried Wolf” parable. This is a story told by adults to caution kids against raising false alarms, as setting up a reflexive dismissal of “fake news” can have damaging consequences. But consider two overlooked aspects of this story: first, a wolf did eventually appear and wreak havoc; and second, shouldn’t the adults bear responsibility for not protecting the town? Is the child really to blame? What idiots would put the responsibility of town protection on a child? I say that the failure rests mostly on the adults. They should recognize that children are prone to false alarms, and admonish them for knowingly creating disruption—after checking on the possibility of a real threat, for goodness sake! They utterly dropped the ball, and paid the price.

I came to think as I put finishing touches on the textbook that if asked to pick one message to communicate with this book it would be that the recent highly anomalous past has cruelly misshapen our perception of future possibilities. I put this into the abstract (and the back cover of the paperback), and sprinkled it into the text as an afterthought (search the word fireworks for some instances). As important as this point is, its presence throughout is implicit. I will likely try to more directly integrate the thought into a future edition.

A grounded understanding that our time is grossly abnormal in the long view is, I think, a necessary first step in snapping out of our current mindset, shaking off fantastical dreams, and getting to work defining and implementing a future that can actually work. It’s time to break the spell.


I am too close/biased to judge whether this book has enough intrinsic merit and appeal to “catch on” and reach a broad audience. But people will not give it a chance and instructors won’t adopt it for classrooms if too few people even know about it. Because I intentionally bypassed a for-profit publisher to make the book freely available, I lose the benefit of any publicity apparatus a publishing company might provide. So it’s down to “the people” to let others know of its existence. Fortunately, social media channels are well suited to this. Please consider sharing this book with others (reference the link to the book, not this “inside baseball” post). I hope the book is written in a way that can draw people in and then inspire them to keep turning pages. If recommending to friends and family, perhaps think about targeting a section or two to avoid their feeling overwhelmed by a textbook-sized reading assignment. If you can think of a personal connection to make it more directly relevant to them, all the better.

I don’t think I have ever asked for this sort of favor, and am not wholly comfortable with the appearance that I am shamelessly self-promoting here. But since I receive no financial benefit (even from the printed book) or prospect of job promotion as a result, I can convince myself that it’s out of a hope that the book might have some power to change minds and play some small role in setting us onto a more successful path. Call it optimism, bias, over-confidence, or whatever, but if the book can gain significant traction, then perhaps it deserves every chance and advantage. If months or years go by, this “old news” textbook will no longer have the shiny luster of newness, and will be less likely to spark a flame equal to the task ahead of us. The book may flop on its own (lack of) merits; then it flops—so be it. But let’s at least be able to say that it wasn’t for lack of trying to make people aware of its presence.

Apneaman wrote a song to celebrate the return of Tom Murphy:

Hey-la-day-la my Physicist’s back

He went away and hopium hung around
And bothered me, every night
And when I wouldn’t buy into it
You said things that weren’t very nice
My Physicist’s back and you’re gonna be in trouble
(Hey-la-day-la my Physicist’s back)
You see him comin’ better SHUT UP on the double
(Hey-la-day-la my Physicist’s back)
You been spreading lies that collapse was untrue
(Hey-la-day-la my Physicist’s back)
So look out now ’cause his math foretells doom
He’s been gone for such a long time
(Hey-la-day-la my Physicist’s back)
Now he’s back to prove we’re out of time
(Hey-la-day-la my Physicist’s back)
We’ll all be sorry we were ever born
(Hey-la-day-la my Physicist’s back)
‘Cause his brain’s kinda big and his math’s da bomb
(Hey-la-day-la my Physicist’s back)
(You’re a Green dreamer now but he’ll cut you down to size
(Wait and see)
My Physicist’s back he’s gonna prove our damnation
(Hey-la-day-la my Physicist’s back)
If I were you I’d pray for endtimes salvation
(Hey-la, hey-la, my Physicist’s back)
Yeah, my Physicist’s back (La-day-la, my Physicist’s back)
Look out now, yeah, my Physicist’s back (La-day-la, my Physicist’s back)
I could see him comin’ so you better get a runnin’ alright now (La-day-la, my Physicist’s back)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah (La-day-la, my Physicist’s back)
My Physicist’s back now (La-day-la, my Physicist’s back)
Know he’s comin’ after you because he knows I’ve been true to doom (La-day-la, my Physicist’s back)

103 thoughts on “Tom Murphy’s back, yay!”

  1. The Ultimate Tragedy of the Commons awaits us all. Too many powerful interests vested in maintaining the status quo, at all levels of government (forget about international cooperation), presents an insuperable obstacle.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Rob- the second public coming of Thomas Murphy. It was only a few days ago I looked at his The Energy Trap post again. I thought he was lost to connubial bliss.
    Downloaded and hard copy bought- he deserves some recompense for his service ( as Our US friends say)


  3. First the periphery will crumble, then the core.

    In a shock-and-awe move, the Central Bank of Turkey today jacked up its policy rate, the one-week repo rate, by two full percentage points, from 17% to 19%.

    The Central Bank of Brazil put down the hammer with a rate hike of 0.75 percentage points yesterday, bringing its Selic rate to 2.75%.

    On March 19, the Central Bank of Russia – facing an inflation rate that has shot up to 5.7% in February from 5.2% in January, and from 3.7% six months ago – is expected by 27 of 28 economists polled by Reuters to maintain its policy rate of 4.25%, but communicate to markets that it will raise rates soon.

    In Nigeria, the inflation rate in February surged to 17.3% from 16.5% in January and from 13.7% six months ago. Despite the surge of inflation, the Central Bank of Nigeria kept its policy rate at 11.5% at the January meeting.

    India’s inflation rate jumped to 5.0% in February from 4.1% in January, with food inflation more than doubling to 3.9%.



      The collapse of Lebanon’s currency has forced many grocery shops to temporarily shut within the last 24 hours, raising fears that a country reliant on imports could soon face shortages of food.

      The National Bank of Georgia raised its policy rate by 50 basis points on March 17, citing rising inflation, despite the country’s severe economic contraction.

      Prices are surging across the Arab world as food and fuel costs rapidly erode purchasing power…

      Venezuelan farmers said on Thursday that they had asked the government to allow them to import diesel themselves to alleviate shortages of the fuel that are hindering food production and distribution.

      South Africa’s bankrupt state power company today spent £2 million on burning diesel to keep the country’s lights on during the televised memorial service for the Zulu king.


  4. I assumed Tom stopped because……read the pretzel logic in the comments section.

    Finally, I have hope again!

    Plummeting sperm counts, shrinking penises: toxic chemicals threaten humanity
    Erin Brockovich

    The chemicals to blame for our reproductive crisis are found everywhere and in everything

    The end of humankind? It may be coming sooner than we think, thanks to hormone-disrupting chemicals that are decimating fertility at an alarming rate around the globe. A new book called Countdown, by Shanna Swan, an environmental and reproductive epidemiologist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, finds that sperm counts have dropped almost 60% since 1973. Following the trajectory we are on, Swan’s research suggests sperm counts could reach zero by 2045. Zero. Let that sink in. That would mean no babies. No reproduction. No more humans. Forgive me for asking: why isn’t the UN calling an emergency meeting on this right now?

    The chemicals to blame for this crisis are found in everything from plastic containers and food wrapping, to waterproof clothes and fragrances in cleaning products, to soaps and shampoos, to electronics and carpeting. Some of them, called PFAS, are known as “forever chemicals”, because they don’t breakdown in the environment or the human body. They just accumulate and accumulate – doing more and more damage, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Now, it seems, humanity is reaching a breaking point.

    Swan’s book is staggering in its findings. “In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” Swan writes. In addition to that, Swan finds that, on average, a man today will have half of the sperm his grandfather had. “The current state of reproductive affairs can’t continue much longer without threatening human survival,” writes Swan, adding: “It’s a global existential crisis.” That’s not hyperbole. That’s just science.”

    Just think of all the unborn who won’t be around to get rubbed out by climate change & die fighting in resource wars.


    1. The comments section on pretty much anything these days is depressing. There’s so little intelligent discourse about anything that matters. Most people don’t have a clue what’s going on and most don’t want to know. I can understand why people like Murphy, Meadows, Korowicz, Chefurka, Zawacki et. al. stop writing.

      It makes me very happy and restores my soul when someone like Murphy writes brilliantly and wisely about things that really matter.

      Peter Watts said it best in one my favorite climate change rants titled “The Adorable Optimism of the IPCC”:

      But you know what, people? There were always alternatives. You could have voted for Sanders. You could have voted Green. You could have voted for Ralph fucking Nader, when he was running. Hell, am I the only one who remembers Jerry Brown’s abortive run at the presidency, back in 1980? I still remember his announcement, the Three Priorities he laid out for his administration:

      1. Protect the Environment
      2. Serve the People
      3. Explore the Universe

      That’s a damned good mission statement if you ask me. All it got him was jokes from Johnny Carson about how Jerry Brown had locked up the Grey Whale vote, and jokes from everyone else that usually revolved around the fact he was fucking Linda Ronstadt.

      Of course he didn’t have a chance. Of course voting for him, or Nader, or the Greens was “throwing away your vote”. None of them had a chance.

      And that’s my fucking point. It’s not that no one had heard of these people. It’s not that you weren’t familiar with their platforms. You knew what they stood for and you wrote them off. You were told they were fringe, that they never stood a chance, so you went out and made it true. You voted en masse for the status quo and the corporate teat-sucklers. Now Darby and Klein and Guenther trip over themselves to let you off the hook, to blame Capitalism and Neoliberalism and its stranglehold on the groupthink of modern politics— but how did you end up with leaders who so willingly abased themselves at that altar in the first place, you ignorant shit-heads? There were always alternatives, and you saw them, and you laughed.

      Sure, the Neolibs conned you. Because you wanted to be conned.

      Reap the whirlwind, you miserable fuckers. May your children choke on it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I watched an interesting new documentary tonight titled “Human by Chance?: The Gene That Made Our Brain Grow”. Scientists believe they have identified the gene that caused the human brain to enlarge about 2 million years ago.

    Next up, we need to find the gene that created behaviorally modern humans about 200,000 years ago by enabling our tendency to deny unpleasant realities which unlocked the power of our larger brain.

    Then we should use our fancy new vaccine technology to create and deliver a virus that disables the reality denial gene.

    This might save our species and many other species we are destroying, with a possible minor side effect that everyone will be depressed and mope around worrying about their mortality.

    Screw fusion. This is what you should be working on Bill Gates!

    Discover the secrets of humanity’s advanced skill set and predominance on earth. We are far weaker than our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, cannot move nearly as fast, and do not have the same climbing capabilities. Instead, humans excel in areas such as architecture, religion, science, and language. These achievements are due to our larger brain that contain billions of neurons. What caused the rapid growth of our cerebral cortex? Researchers worldwide have asked this question for many years, but now there finally seems to be an answer.

    The Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden seems to have found answers to this phenomenon. For the first time in history, a research team succeeded in making embryonic brains of marmosets grow by using the human-specific gene ARHGAP11B. The team led by Dr. Wieland Huttner has not only discovered the reason for our larger brains, but has also discovered that humans owe their tremendous cognitive abilities to a coincidence. This coincidence is a point mutation that occurred hundreds of thousands of years ago in one of our early ancestors, on this exact gene. When could this random mutation have taken place? Whom did it affect? Which factors caused it? What developments have been promoted by this?

    In the run-up of the latest publications, the MDR team accompanied neuroscientists Dr. Wieland Huttner and his research team on their journey to find answers. The film presents the decisive moments of their groundbreaking study and illustrates the current research results. The results are supplemented by the insights of Primatologist Dr. Roman Wittig, evolutionary researcher Dr. Philipp Gunz from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Professor of Comparative Developmental Psychology and neuroscientist Dr. Katja Liebal, and bestselling author and scientist Dr. Franca Parianen. Learn about the special features of ARHGAP11B and discover the secrets to our advanced brains and predominance on earth.

    You can download the documentary here:

    Not sure how long this YouTube copy will stay up:

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s not as simple as a gene that makes the brain grow. It’s the specialization and connections that count like the language centers. You only launch life and its wide variety of dissipative structures again (technological) by becoming an RNA and using your own tech DNA to make all the stuff. Humans have also evolved circuitry to deny that they’re basically just an overgrown molecule (operating in a dopamine guided mind-space instead of random collision) in competition with other like molecules to burn everything in sight in striving for profit and growth.


      1. They put this one gene in a monkey using a virus and it’s brain grew with extra folds. Over subsequent generations would this extra computer hardware then develop the specialization and connections you talk about?


        1. Extra folds would have certainly helped pack more into a limited space. After that I suppose the skull then has to expand and the birth canal. The larynx would have to evolve and the hands. The whole body has to co-evolve as one package. I’m not sure what more cortex will do for a monkey, but I wouldn’t expect them to start talking, making tools and sacrifices to the Gods. It is an interesting gene though. I wonder if homozygous humans have more cortex than heterozygous types.


          1. Have to agree with James here. It’s not just brain size (neurons), that matter. Neanderthals had larger brains but less folding and probably less interconnection. I would like to see that monkey though! Especially if it comes up with a God!!!! (always thought gods came from smaller brains (snark)).

            Liked by 1 person

    2. This is one of the best videos I have watched EVER. I don’t agree with their conclusion that someone will not mess with this and try to augment human brains (if we last long enough), ala Margarete Atwood.


  6. Every once in a while the BBC In Our Time podcast hits a homerun. Last week’s homerun discussed what we know about previous mass extinctions and draws a parallel to what we are doing to the climate today.

    There’s a lot to absorb here, I’ve listened to it twice and will be going back for a 3rd time.

    The Late Devonian Extinction

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the devastating mass extinctions of the Late Devonian Period, roughly 370 million years ago, when around 70 percent of species disappeared. Scientists are still trying to establish exactly what happened, when and why, but this was not as sudden as when an asteroid hits Earth. The Devonian Period had seen the first trees and soils and it had such a diversity of sea life that it’s known as the Age of Fishes, some of them massive and armoured, and, in one of the iconic stages in evolution, some of them moving onto land for the first time. One of the most important theories for the first stage of this extinction is that the new soils washed into oceans, leading to algal blooms that left the waters without oxygen and suffocated the marine life.

    The image above is an abstract group of the huge, armoured Dunkleosteus fish, lost in the Late Devonian Extinction.


    Jessica Whiteside, Associate Professor of Geochemistry in the Department of Ocean and Earth Science at the University of Southampton

    David Bond, Professor of Geology at the University of Hull

    Mike Benton, Professor of Vertebrate Paleontology at the School of Life Sciences, University of Bristol.


      1. I heard something about this. It’s the main success story that environmentalists point to. They conveniently ignore or deny that we did something about the ozone problem because there was an alternative to CFC’s that didn’t require us to inconvenience our lifestyles. Now apparently it is not a success story after all. They just can’t wrap their heads around the need to get the population down.

        Photosynthesis is my favorite invention of evolution. It’s a super hard problem to split water with a photon. If we could replicate nature’s invention in the lab we’d be well on our way to having a non-polluting solution to fossil energy depletion.

        The byproducts of photosynthesis created pretty much everything we care about including:

        1) Food.

        2) All of our advanced technology via fossil energy.

        3) Ozone which prevented the oceans from evaporating into space. We’d be a dry planet by now without photosynthesis.

        4) Oxygen is required to make lignin which is used by all large plants and animals for structure. There’d be no large life without photosynthesis.

        5) Oxygen respiration is very efficient at burning energy and so it was feasible to have 5 or 6 levels in the food chain which means life is interesting on this planet.

        Plus a few other biggies that have slipped my mind.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. This will end with pitchforks some day. Idiots.

    In an op-ed today in the Wall Street Journal, Fed Chair Jerome Powell rationalized and defended the Fed’s ultra-radical, previously unthinkably monstrous, and super-fast bailout of asset holders starting a year ago, when within three months the Fed created $3 trillion and purchased assets with them, and created the biggest media hoopla about those purchases and many more trillions in future purchases, in order to inflate asset prices further, and make asset holders immensely rich.

    It was a huge success. Asset prices nearly across the board surged way past the levels before the crisis, and those holding them got a lot richer, very fast.

    And Powell therefore concluded his op-ed with this line: “I truly believe that we will emerge from this crisis stronger and better, as we have done so often before.”

    The “we” being the asset holders, the richest asset holders at the very top. The “we” excludes the bottom 50% of Americans, according to the Fed’s own data, which we’ll get to in a moment.

    The reports and data are coming out of the woodwork from all directions. Oxfam said that the combined wealth of the world’s top 10 billionaires has skyrocketed by $540 billion since the crisis began. GOBankingRates came up with a list of the biggest gainers in net worth between March 18, 2020, and October 7. The Americans on this list:

    Jeff Bezos (+$72.6 billion);
    Elon Musk (+$63.3 billion);
    Mark Zuckerberg (+$42.1 billion);
    MacKenzie Scott (+$23.6 billion);
    Steve Ballmer (+$18.5 billion);
    Larry Ellison (+$19.9 billion);
    Nike founder Phil Knight & Family (+$19.8 billion);
    Bill Gates ($17.8 billion); Michael Dell (+$15.6 billion)


  8. Yay, Tom’s back to silence irritating hope pimps – Hey-la-day-la my Physicist’s back

    He went away and hopium hung around
    And bothered me, every night
    And when I wouldn’t buy into it
    You said things that weren’t very nice
    My Physicist’s back and you’re gonna be in trouble
    (Hey-la-day-la my Physicist’s back)
    You see him comin’ better SHUT UP on the double
    (Hey-la-day-la my Physicist’s back)
    You been spreading lies that collapse was untrue
    (Hey-la-day-la my Physicist’s back)
    So look out now ’cause his math foretells doom
    He’s been gone for such a long time
    (Hey-la-day-la my Physicist’s back)
    Now he’s back to prove we’re out of time
    (Hey-la-day-la my Physicist’s back)
    We’ll all be sorry we were ever born
    (Hey-la-day-la my Physicist’s back)
    ‘Cause his brain’s kinda big and his math’s da bomb
    (Hey-la-day-la my Physicist’s back)
    (You’re a Green dreamer now but he’ll cut you down to size
    (Wait and see)
    My Physicist’s back he’s gonna prove our damnation
    (Hey-la-day-la my Physicist’s back)
    If I were you I’d pray for endtimes salvation
    (Hey-la, hey-la, my Physicist’s back)
    Yeah, my Physicist’s back (La-day-la, my Physicist’s back)
    Look out now, yeah, my Physicist’s back (La-day-la, my Physicist’s back)
    I could see him comin’ so you better get a runnin’ alright now (La-day-la, my Physicist’s back)
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah (La-day-la, my Physicist’s back)
    My Physicist’s back now (La-day-la, my Physicist’s back)
    Know he’s comin’ after you because he knows I’ve been true to doom (La-day-la, my Physicist’s back)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. World Leaders Pledge To Cut Emissions By As Much As They Can Realistically Back Out Of

    BONN, GERMANY—Agreeing that public perception of how they were handling the climate crisis had never been more important, world leaders signed a major new accord Tuesday in which they pledged to cut carbon emissions to the extent that they could realistically back out of a few years from now. “This agreement sets ambitious goals for reducing our carbon footprint, but not so ambitious that we can’t come up with a plausible-seeming excuse when we inevitably fail to meet its benchmarks,” read a joint statement issued through the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, in which top officials from the United States, China, Germany, Canada, Russia, and France signaled their support for easily reversible measures to combat global warming. “The time for dramatic pronouncements that can be quickly walked back is now. We have vowed to transition away from fossil fuels and set a deadline far enough in the future that hopefully everyone will forget about it. But if necessary, we are fully committed to rationalizing our inaction in terms the United Nations finds palatable.” At press time, a new report issued by the U.N. had found that half of the parties had already succeeded in reneging on the agreement signed earlier that morning.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Gail Tverberg is now predicting an economic collapse in less than 1 year, accompanied by shortages of goods and energy, and high inflation.

    I think the probability is high that she’s right, although I would expect the onset of inflation to be delayed by a year or so after the crash.

    To make matters worse, GDP growth in Figure 5 has not been reduced to remove the impact of inflation. On average, removing the impact of inflation reduces the above GDP growth by about half. In the period 2015 to 2020, it took about $4.35 of additional debt to add one dollar of GDP growth, including inflation. It would take about double that amount, or $8.70 worth of debt, to create $1.00 worth of inflation-adjusted growth. With such a low return on added debt, it seems unlikely that the $1.9 trillion stimulus package will increase the growth of the economy very much.

    Most of the world’s cheap-to-extract oil sources have now been exhausted. Our problem is that the world market cannot get prices to rise high enough for producers to cover all of their expenses, including taxes.

    Based on my analysis, the world price of oil would need to be at least $120 per barrel to cover all of the costs it needs to cover. The costs that need to be covered include more items than an oil company would normally include in its costs estimates. The company needs to develop new fields to compensate for the ones that are being exhausted. It needs to pay interest on its debt. It also needs to pay dividends to its shareholders. In the case of shale producers, the price needs to be high enough that production outside of “sweet spots” can be carried on profitably.

    For oil exporters, it is especially important that the sales price be high enough so that the government of the oil exporting country can collect adequate tax revenue. Otherwise, the exporting country will not be able to maintain food subsidy programs that the population depends on and public works programs that provide jobs.

    I expect that oil prices will rise a bit, but not enough to raise prices to the level producers require. Interest rates will continue to rise as governments around the world attempt more stimulus. With these higher interest rates and higher oil prices, businesses will do less and less well. This will slow the economy enough that debt defaults become a major problem. Within a few months to a year, the worldwide debt bubble will start to collapse, bringing oil prices down by more than 50%. Stock market prices and prices of buildings of all kinds will fall in inflation-adjusted dollars. Many bonds will prove to be worthless. There will be problems with empty shelves in stores and gasoline stations with no products to sell.

    People will start to see that while debt is a promise for the equivalent of future goods and services, it is not necessarily the case that those who make the promises will be able to stand behind these promises. Paper wealth generally can be expected to lose its value.

    I can imagine a situation, not too many years from now, when countries everywhere will establish new currencies that are not as easily interchangeable with other currencies as today’s currencies are. International trade will dramatically fall. The standard of living of most people will fall precipitously.

    I doubt that the new currencies will be electronic currencies. Keeping the electricity on is a difficult task in economies that increasingly need to rely solely on local resources. Electricity may be out for months at a time after an equipment failure or a storm. Having a currency that depends on electricity alone would be a poor idea.


  11. I watched the 2017 documentary Bulkland tonight. It’s about the people who live and work in the city of Yiwu where most of the world’s dollar store items are manufactured. It seemed honest to me. Recommended.

    I definitely won the lottery being born in Canada. I’m going to try to be more grateful.

    Bulkland: Surviving the Town the Dollar Store Built

    The Futian Market of Yiwu in China is where wholesale buyers come from around the world to buy cheap Chinese goods. Covering a massive 4 million square meters, over 100,000 suppliers hawk their wares. They sell everything from toys to fluffy handcuffs, to plastic Santas doing strange things. Business moves at a hundred miles an hour and the air is full of tales of quick fortunes, kidnapped businessmen and now, a slumping market.

    “This is the city the dollar store built”. Since 2008 the number of dollar stores in the US has doubled, there are now more of these stores than pharmacies. The story is the same across the globe. This growth in cheap stores has kick-started Yiwu’s expansion. In May 2014 alone, Yiwu exported $157 US million worth of small plastic goods. Seen as a place of opportunity, people from all over the world have come to Yiwu to realize their dreams.

    30 years ago Yiwu was a poor and dilapidated backwater. 89-year old Gong Jinxiang remembers a time when “wild vegetables were the only food source,” but since Deng Xiaoping opened China’s economy up, the city has been thriving. Everyone in Yiwu is an entrepreneur, from the international businessmen to the local cottage industrialists. Wong Xiaoying “had never heard of the concept of ‘Christmas'”, but now makes her living trading in Christmas decorations and kitsch Santa figurines.

    The new rich in Yiwu spend their money on cars and designer brands, and spend their evenings in the nightclubs. Belarusian teen Katey performs for the newly wealthy crowd, surrounded by sparkling bottles of champagne and vodka, she sings over the thumping music. But this is a city with no rules. German businessman Marco Tonelli compares it to “the Wild West, the Eighteenth Century, in America”.

    But Yiwu’s boom seems to be coming to an end. Everyday thousands of migrant workers crowd the streets desperately looking for work. Wages are low and employment hard to come by. Even the international businessmen find it hard: “they want everything, take, take, take”, ruminates Englishman Nigel Cropp. The freedom from bureaucracy is what made Yiwu such an attractive place to do business, but with prices rising and quality low the city is beginning to lose its allure. Yiwu is just one casualty of the downturn in the Chinese economy.

    You can download it here:

    Or rent it from YouTube et. al.


  12. Strauss and Howe will change the way you see the world–and your place in it. In “The Fourth Turning, they apply their generational theories to the cycles of history and locate America in the middle of an unraveling period, on the brink of a crisis. How you prepare for this crisis–the Fourth Turning–is intimately connected to the mood and attitude of your particular generation. Are you one of the can-do “GI generation,” who triumphed in the last crisis? Do you belong to the mediating “Silent Majority,” who enjoyed the 1950s High? Do you fall into the “awakened” Boomer category of the 1970s and 1980s, or are you a Gen-Xer struggling to adapt to our splintering world? Whatever your stage of life, “The Fourth Turning offers bold predictions about how all of us can prepare, individually and collectively, for America’s next rendezvous with destiny.

    I made it 30 minutes into this 6 hour audiobook before quitting.

    If a person does not understand the laws of thermodynamics which govern our universe, nor the Maximum Power Principle (MPP) which governs the behavior of all life, nor the relationship between non-renewable energy and the wealth/technology that defines our civilization, then they understand nothing.

    Furthermore, if a person thinks they can detect meaningful periodicities in a one-time 200 year fossil energy driven pulse during the 300,000 year lifetime of a species, then they are an idiot.

    Strauss and Howe are morons dressed up as wise scholars and their book is crap.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well that puts you at odds with Chris Martenson but I’ll trust your judgement over his and won’t waste my time


      1. I decided to read it because of Martenson’s recommendation. Maybe I needed to go further into the book but it made me angry that they spoke so confidently without having a clue how the world actually works.


        1. Thanks,
          You saved me the time. I am always suspicious of explanations that appear to be post hoc. AND that don’t appear to be falsifiable. This “theory” appears to be one of those that don’t look for facts that can disprove it but use facts selectively to “prune the bush”. Karl Popper would hate that book. IMHO


  13. Tom Murphy wrote a post today highlighting the ideas that are new in his book, and asking for our help to promote his free book. I have pasted his post into the main body above.

    Perhaps the most important message the new textbook can convey is that the abnormality of the last few centuries has turned us into the worst judges of future possibilities. Several times in the book, I compare the present era to a fireworks show: dazzling, awe inspiring, and a short-lived exception to “normal” activity. At least we can appreciate the aberration that a fireworks display represents by comparing it to a longer baseline: we have a broader context. Yet for those born and raised entirely within the fireworks show, it is easy to understand how their world view would be badly distorted.

    People often process the abnormality of our time in a dangerous way: because people 200 years ago could not possibly have predicted the amazing life of today, we are equally ill-equipped to fathom the miracles of tomorrow. I appreciate the bigness of thought that it takes to conceive of this. It’s a fair and alluring point. But it also ignores data and context: physical limits; a “full” earth; exhaustion of one-time resources; climate change perils; systemic collapses in ecosystems around the globe.


    I am too close/biased to judge whether this book has enough intrinsic merit and appeal to “catch on” and reach a broad audience. But people will not give it a chance and instructors won’t adopt it for classrooms if too few people even know about it. Because I intentionally bypassed a for-profit publisher to make the book freely available, I lose the benefit of any publicity apparatus a publishing company might provide. So it’s down to “the people” to let others know of its existence. Fortunately, social media channels are well suited to this. Please consider sharing this book with others (reference the link to the book, not this “inside baseball” post). I hope the book is written in a way that can draw people in and then inspire them to keep turning pages. If recommending to friends and family, perhaps think about targeting a section or two to avoid their feeling overwhelmed by a textbook-sized reading assignment. If you can think of a personal connection to make it more directly relevant to them, all the better.

    I don’t think I have ever asked for this sort of favor, and am not wholly comfortable with the appearance that I am shamelessly self-promoting here. But since I receive no financial benefit (even from the printed book) or prospect of job promotion as a result, I can convince myself that it’s out of a hope that the book might have some power to change minds and play some small role in setting us onto a more successful path. Call it optimism, bias, over-confidence, or whatever, but if the book can gain significant traction, then perhaps it deserves every chance and advantage. If months or years go by, this “old news” textbook will no longer have the shiny luster of newness, and will be less likely to spark a flame equal to the task ahead of us. The book may flop on its own (lack of) merits; then it flops—so be it. But let’s at least be able to say that it wasn’t for lack of trying to make people aware of its presence.



    The planned shift away from petrol – which is planned by governments, unlike the unplanned way in which the economy developed to this point – threatens the delicate balance in pricing between the most essential oil products – diesel, aviation fuel and bunker fuel (35% of a barrel) – and waste products like petrol (43% of a barrel). The present set up allows the essential products to be subsidised by the sale of largely non-essential petrol. If the proposed shift to hydrogen and batteries goes ahead, the price of the essential fuels – which we have no choice but to keep on using – must increase to account for the lost revenue from the non-essentials. At the same time, the price of petrol will be lowered to a point where enough people who still drive petrol vehicles are prepared to grow its use once more – most likely by shifting light goods transportation to petrol-powered vehicles.

    In a growing economy some new balancing of prices might be arrived at; with essential products rising in price as non-essentials fall, so that the overall price of all the products combined remains the same. Unfortunately, we have passed the point where this was possible. The problem now is that the inevitable increase in the price of diesel and other essential fuels as governments ban the use of smaller petrol vehicles, will force the economy to contract.

    Even before the pandemic, the oil industry was unable to raise oil prices to a level that would allow further growth. Nevertheless, even at prices far too low for the industry to remain profitable in the long-term, they were too high for consumers.

    Far from helping to resolve this predicament, government attempts to buck the market and impose the partial solution of battery and hydrogen powered vehicles is likely to prove more lethal than the climate change they claim to want to ameliorate. This is simply because it is impossible to feed eight billion humans – at least not on any time scale that matters – without the diesel-powered industrial machinery and oil-derived fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides which – for better or worse – we all depend upon.

    In this sense, messing around with the price of petrol while ignoring the problem of diesel looks more like a psychiatric patient’s displacement activity than a genuine attempt to manage the inevitable decline of industrial civilisation.


  15. There’s a mouse plague in NSW (videos available). This quote from the Guardian describes one type of collapse very well
    “Farmers talk about the mice disappearing virtually overnight,” the research officer said.
    “They get to such high numbers they become quite stressed … they start to run out of food, which facilitates the spread of disease, they start eating the sick ones, they turn on the babies, and then it’s all over. It’s quite a grizzly story.”
    Nothing slow about that


    1. It is grizzly, but we shouldn’t judge the poor mice too harshly; as fellow mammals, we’ve been known to indulge in cannibalism during times of hunger and stress as well. History is replete with examples, some on a large scale. In some communities where protein sources are chronically scarce, cannibalism became integrated into the culture (New Guinea, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, parts of Africa come readily to mind). I can’t help pondering about how all those denizens of the world’s cities, now comprising more than half of humanity, will cope once now-critically-stretched food production and transport networks start unravelling (it will be an exponential collapse). The WWII Nazi siege of Leningrad will pale into insignificance by comparison . . .


      1. Yes-very true. I was thinking about the photographs from the post Russian revolution famine as I posted. My mortality salience is peaking as I type but I’m sure my death denial defences will kick in soon.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. For a while there was a trend in anthropology to minimize the “undesirable” cultural practices of non-western societies. But unsavory or not, it happened. In Europe and other places. The anthropologist Christie Turner took a beating from the PC crowd when he published on cannibalism among the Anasazi. He had excavated a charnel pit and identified extensive perimortem cranial and postcranial bone breakage, cut marks, anvil hammerstone abrasions, burning, many missing vertebrae, and fragment end‐polishing. Together, these six types of damage are believed to be the signature of prehistoric Anasazi cannibalism. When people are starving, they raid and engage in all sorts of anti-social behavior they would not tolerate under more ideal circumstances.

        BTW, I advise against making cannibal jokes, such as, “ You look tasty “and/or “you look delicious” or “I want to eat you” to members of the opposite sex. “I want to nibble on your toes” could land you in the psych ward or at the least make you the target of an online mob. #arnie hammer.


  16. It’s good to see Steve Ludlum writing again.

    Beginning in the 1960s, US oil reserves began to decline and the country found it necessary to import fuel, Dependence increased on external sources such as Mexico, Canada and Middle East countries. The 1973 oil shock followed by the 1980 Iran-Iraq war stunned an American economy that had become dependent on car manufacturing and development. Depletion — a scale related real cost — had not been expected to emerge until the far distant future. Innovators in the 60s and 70s could not imagine a technology that could displace gas and oil and they still can’t. That’s why the focus is on batteries, a technology from the 19th century!

    There were frantic attempts to cope, everything but conservation and abandoning the car-based lifestyle. There was wage arbitrage, the offshoring of US jobs — more jobs were shipped out than would have been lost if the car industry had shut down — the opening borders to millions of undocumented workers, deregulation of finance and industry, neoliberalism generally. There was union busting, bubble economies, China opening, the jettisoning Bretton-Woods international monetary regime for the Plaza Accord depreciating the dollar, the rise of the euro and the EU, the Carter Doctrine, the emergence- then dominion of central banks, decades of futile, ruinous US wars. All of these were intended as hedges against real fuel price increases and declining energy returns on our (massively expanding) car investment. Comes now solar battery cars, full of spammy sound and fury: another miserable hedge.

    The idea that electric cars will break our trajectory of decline is the face of experience is either dumb or purposefully, misleading. Cars cannot earn, driving the car does not pay for it. Driving cars is a distraction, a form of entertainment and a status symbol. Driving cannot pay for the rest of the enormous car ecosystem, either. What pays is debt, in in increasingly astronomical amounts. Greater numbers of more complex and costly vehicles equals more debt. Nobody can say when the regime breaks down but when it happens it will be too late to do much (or anything) about it.

    What does this mean for our children? The alarms from those who interest themselves in longer-term outcomes are sobering. The debts — both the money kind and the environmental variety will be repaid one way or the other. An unlivable planet; for what? A goddamned car?

    Smith, Mauldin and the rest appear not understand how industrial economies work. Processes are singular, uni-directional, constrained by thermodynamics and capital (resource) availability. No power of will can outmaneuver entropy which is its own law unto itself. The so-called visionaries of the comic book world made believe that it is possible to cheat physics by simply inventing claims then pressing them home against third parties. The third parties are us, there is no one else. At some point there becomes an excess of claims: third parties are too poor, debts cannot be retired, capital is out of reach, society itself is bankrupt.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. A US empire follies piece from historian Alfred McCoy (he who blew the lid off the CIA’s SE Asian dope smuggling in the 70’s). Other than his naivete on energy/oil (shared with 99.9% of Pop) McCoy is an excellent historian of the ‘great game’. No sugar coating.

    Alfred McCoy, Whose Planet Are We On?

    Washington’s Delusion of Endless World Dominion
    China and the U.S. Struggle over Eurasia, the Epicenter of World Power

    “Empires live and die by their illusions. Visions of empowerment can inspire nations to scale the heights of global hegemony. Similarly, however, illusions of omnipotence can send fading empires crashing into oblivion. So it was with Great Britain in the 1950s and so it may be with the United States today.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Endlessly fascinating. The one thing you must understand to have a clue about anything is energy, and yet energy is the one thing that almost all smart people do not understand. It just can’t be a coincidence. It’s got to be associated with genetic denial of overshoot.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Picking up on the issue of Washington’s endless world domination…I doubt we will ever hear the equivalent of Harold MacMillans’s “Wind of Change” speech delivered in 1960.


  18. The most popular computer review channel in the world is produced in my province. Today they explained what’s going on behind the scenes to cause the global chip shortage. Apparently things are not so doomy for some segments of our economy. The problem is not a drop in chip supply. The problem is increased demand.


    1. Fuck em. I hate the ‘tech industry’ more than bankers. Especially the cunts at google.

      Once the zombie apocalypse is underway if someone tells me they used to work for google that’ll be their last words. Former Toronto Dominion (TD™) employees might want to keep quite around me too…….bastards.

      I’m sure there will be no limit on strip mining the planet (what’s left) to keep the internet toy running for as long as possible. Internet-digital culture is truly global. Bigger than car culture. There’s hundreds of millions of smart phone owners/users who have never owned a car & never will. Places in Africa that had few land lines or paved roads. They had no economy to fund all that infrastructure, but were off & running with cell/wireless. Nigerian princes (on my list too) were among the earliest adopters in Africa – the peasantry followed shortly after.

      If the energy lasts, Africa, Europe & the ME might have all their Chinese built tech toys shipped to them via rail someday. Silk Road Express.


      1. I like my computer. Don’t care if the internet shuts down because I have plenty of interesting content to last me until I die. I was getting worried about having enough spare parts to keep my system going for another 20 years but it seems we have a little more time to prepare.


      2. You sound like Arya with her list. Do you recite their names as you drift off to sleep? House of Google, House of Amazon…all fated to meet the many faced God. I am certain no one will miss the Nigerian princes.


    1. Thanks for pointing out the excavator. I would have missed it. It’s puny next to the Evergreen. Wow. I wondered how it ran aground – apparently it was caught by an unexpected gust of wind which slewed it sideways across the channel. So says Wikipedia.


        1. Bet company wished they hadn’t painted EVERGREEN in huge block letters. If I were captain I’d be hiding in the head swallowing massive amounts of Xanax and planning my retirement.

          Cannot resist sharing this headline – “The Suez Canal crisis is now blocking a huge shipment of erotic toys from reaching the Netherlands.” So please spare a thought for all the poor sods who can’t get their sex toys.

          On a more serious least 20 livestock ships are caught in the Suez log jam. Something like 92,000 animals are trapped in transit and time is running out for them. Of course they were fated for the slaughter house, but to die this way would be an even more ignominious end.


          1. Probably the most important short-term event in the world and it’s already faded from the headlines. I listen to a summary from 6 news channels every morning. No mention of Suez today.


            1. Yup…just a blip in the news cycle. The rudder is now free. I read that water had gotten in two forward tanks and the bow was partly wedged in a rock formation. Apparently a full moon will help rise the tide.


  19. Tim Morgan is good today. Notice that he concludes by pondering reality denial. No wonder. Denial is the most interesting question when studying our situation.

    Between 1999 and 2019, world GDP increased by 95%. Expressed in constant international dollars (converted from other currencies on the PPP – purchasing power parity – convention), this means that GDP grew by $66 trillion.

    Over the same period, though, debt expanded by 177%, or $197tn. Put another way, this means that each dollar of reported “growth” was accompanied by $3 of net new borrowing.

    Comparing 2019 with 2002 (the earliest year for which the data is available), the financial assets of these 23 countries increased by 158%, or $275tn, whilst their aggregated GDPs grew by only $44tn, or 77%.

    On this basis, financial assets increased by $6.20 for each dollar of reported “growth”.

    It’s a simplification, but a reasonable one, to say that, for these economies, each dollar of growth between 2002 and 2019 was accompanied, not just by net new debt of $2.70, but by a further $3.50 of additional financial commitments.

    What this really means, in layman’s terms, is that debt escalation has been accompanied by a broader – and faster – financialization of the economy. Essentially, ever more of the activity recorded as economic ‘output’ is really nothing more than moving money around.

    Over the period between 1999 and 2019, trend GDP “growth” of 3.2% was a function of annual borrowing which averaged 9.6% of GDP. The mechanism is that we pour credit into the economy, count the spending of this money as economic “activity”, and tell ourselves that we can ‘grow out of’ our escalating debt burden.

    As well as funding purchases of goods and services which could not have been afforded without it, relentless credit expansion also inflates the prices of assets, and this in turn inflates the apparent ‘value’ of all asset-related activities.

    The SEEDS economic model strips out this credit effect, a process which reveals that underlying growth in the world economy averaged just 1.4% – rather than 3.2% – between 1999 and 2019. Accordingly, underlying or ‘clean’ output – which SEEDS calls ‘C-GDP’- is now very far below reported GDP. If net credit expansion were to cease, rates of “growth” would fall to barely 1%, and even that baseline rate is eroding. If we were, for any reason, to try to reduce aggregate debt, GDP would fall back towards the much lower level of C-GDP.

    With these equations laid bare, we are entitled to wonder whether decision-makers are in blissful ignorance of this reality, or whether they have at least an inkling of what’s really happening and are simply nursing Micawber-like hopes that ‘something will turn up’. Based on the 2008-09 precedent, we can be pretty sure that the “soft default’ of inflation will play a starring role in the coming drama.

    The question of ‘how much do they know?’ must be left to readers to decide. The same applies to quite how soon you think this situation is going to unravel, and whether you want to label what’s coming as a ‘crisis’ or a ‘collapse’.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Paging Mike Mann, Gavin Schmidt & Kate Marvel.

    Arctic methane release due to melting ice is likely to happen again

    “In the Arctic Ocean today, ice sheets exert pressure on the ground below them. That pressure diffuses all the way to the seafloor, controlling the precarious stability in seafloor sediments. But what happens when the ice sheets melt?

    New research, published on today in Geology, indicates that during the last two global periods of sea-ice melt, the decrease in pressure triggered methane release from buried reserves. Their results demonstrate that as Arctic ice, such as the Greenland ice sheet, melts, similar methane release is likely and should be included in climate models.”

    December 2, 2015

    Researchers decipher the history of paleoclimate change with surprising results

    “a core from the ocean floor in the Santa Barbara Basin provides a remarkable ultra-high-resolution record of Earth’s paleoclimate history during a brief, dynamic time hundreds of thousands of years ago.

    New research from UC Santa Barbara geologist James Kennett and colleagues examines a shift from a glacial to an interglacial climate that began about 630,000 years ago. Their research demonstrates that, although this transition developed over seven centuries, the initial shift required only 50 years.”

    “One of the most astonishing things about our results is the abruptness of the warming in sea surface temperatures,” explained co-author Kennett, a professor emeritus in UCSB’s Department of Earth Science. “Of the 13 degree Fahrenheit total change, a shift of 7 to 9 degrees occurred almost immediately right at the beginning.”

    “Kennett noted that this remarkable record of paleoclimate changes also raises an important question: What process can possibly push the Earth’s climate so fast from a glacial to an interglacial state? The researchers may have discovered the answer based on the core’s geochemical record: The warming associated with the major climatic shift was accompanied by simultaneous releases of methane—a potent greenhouse gas.

    “This particular episode of climate change is closely associated with instability that caused the release of methane from gas hydrates at the ocean floor,” Kennett said. “These frozen forms of methane melt when temperatures rise or pressure decreases. Changes in sea level affect the stability of gas hydrates and water temperature even more so.”

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Disaster Capitalism [SSDD]

    Same Shit Different Disaster

    Biden’s Inner Circle Maintains Close Ties to Vaccine Makers, Disclosures Reveal
    As concerns grow about a global “vaccine apartheid,” watchdogs worry that the Biden administration is primed to favor profits over people.

    n the coming months, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, President Joe Biden’s ambassador to the United Nations, will hear from a growing chorus of developing nations about the foundering efforts to distribute the coronavirus vaccine globally. The nations, many of which have not even begun vaccinating their populations, are demanding that the U.S. support proposals to temporarily waive certain patent and intellectual property rights so that generic coronavirus vaccines can be produced.

    The proposals have been fiercely opposed by American drugmakers, including Pfizer, a pharmaceutical giant that Thomas-Greenfield’s former consulting firm has recently counted as a client. Thomas-Greenfield and her number two, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, previously worked for the Albright Stonebridge Group, or ASG, a consulting firm founded by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The firm, which represents Pfizer, specializes in helping large corporations understand and influence international trade policy, including on intellectual property.
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    Many leading figures in Biden’s administration, including key White House advisers, State Department leaders, and health care officials have financial stake in or professional ties to vaccine manufacturers, which are now lobbying to prevent policies that would cut into future profits over the vaccine.

    ASG in particular has unusual amounts of sway in the Biden administration. State Department officials Victoria Nuland, Wendy Sherman, Uzra Zeya, and Molly Montgomery previously worked at ASG, as did Philip Gordon, Vice President Kamala Harris’s national security adviser.

    But several others in Biden’s inner circle also have potential conflicts of interest:

    -Anita Dunn, the leading strategist on Biden’s presidential campaign who now serves as White House adviser, is on leave from her job as managing partner at the consulting firm she co-founded, SKDK, which provides extensive public relations and advertising services to Pfizer. Dunn intends to return to the SKDK this summer. SKDK, which did not respond to a request for comment, has continued to promote Pfizer’s vaccines on social media.

    -Susan Rice, the domestic policy adviser, holds up to $5 million in shares of Johnson & Johnson and up to $50,000 in shares of Pfizer, according to a disclosure made public this week.

    -Eric Lander, the White House science adviser, holds up to $1 million in shares of BioNTech, Pfizer’s partner for its coronavirus vaccine.

    -Secretary of State Anthony Blinken previously consulted for Gilead Science, the biotech company that produced remdesivir, the only Covid-19 treatment approved by the FDA so far.

    -Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, Biden’s pick for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, previously served as an attorney advising both Pfizer and Gilead on federal policy issues.

    Golly gee willikers, I just can’t understand why so many people are so suspicious & hyper vigilant over Covid matters. Don’t they know our benevolent betters are looking out for us like always?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Not yet, waiting for the hard copy to arrive.
        Probably spring chores on the homestead (shoveling composted manure into the garden)?


        1. Mine arrived Saturday – mind boggling (for an old mind) amount of information. Delivery note shows it as printed on 24/3/2021 at 6.14 p.m. delivered on 27/3/2021. They’ve really got this printing on demand thing worked out.


  22. Ponzis Go Boom!!!

    Really great information about the SPAC market, why it’s in the process of detonating and how it will take the Ponzi Sector with it.

    Also loved this part

    “I don’t know when it’s going to blow, but if I’m right that the top is in, the deluge isn’t too far off. Bubbles are highly unstable—if they’re not inflating, they’re usually bursting—there isn’t really a middle option.”

    Economic bubbles seem to obey the same laws as civilizations.


    1. My cousin who is an optimist and usually avoids any doomy talk asked me what’s likely to happen when the markets “correct” and asked for prepping advice. The fragility of our situation seems to be seeping into the mainstream. The end may be near.


    1. Wow, that made me feel real secure. . . let’s just have lockdowns, masks, social distancing and booster shots forever!! (snark).


    1. Was wondering the same thing, so I did a little digging on his site a few weeks ago and read this:

      Also, if you don’t peruse Naked Capitalisms Web site, they’ve had a good run of articles/links regarding COVID and Ivermectin recently. The comments are usually a rich source of information. While they generally don’t do systems thinking like this site/commentators does, it is also one of my daily reads. Anyways, here is the link to their ivermectin article:

      Keep up the good work Rob.


      1. Thanks for the interesting Martenson update. Having to make a profit screws up the best of intentions. In the early years Martenson did not mention climate change because he did not want to lose subscribers, despite knowing the seriousness of the problem. Lately he’s been blaming central banks for our economic woes because it sells well when he knows full well the problem is energy depletion and overshoot.

        It will be interesting to see what the disagreement is with his investors. I’ll bet they want him to stop talking about two of the E’s (energy and environment). The other E is ok because it sells. He’s probably spent the last 2 months trying to educate them on our energy and environment predicament and they probably deny all of it like everyone else. I don’t think Martenson has studied Varki’s MORT.


      2. Good article on Ivermectin. Thanks. I have a tube in the cupboard and will take it if I get sick.

        I’m still amazed at how little our leaders discuss strengthening the immune system with vitamin D et. al and low cost treatments.

        Our leaders are not just missing the bullseye by a little, they are shooting in the wrong direction.

        Just like they’re doing on all the important issues (population, energy, climate, debt, etc.).

        Our leaders are C- students in denial without strong character or good judgement.


        1. Rob,
          Why would you want to strengthen your immune system? Why take all those supplements (like vitamin D, zinc, Quercetin, N-acetyl cysteine, etc.)? Why eat healthy and exercise?
          I’m so exhausted by the constant repetition of the Medical Experts and the MSM – get our experimental vaccine and all will be well! If you turn on the U.S. evening news you find they are all on the same page, reading the same script. Nothing but take a shot and get the economy growing again. NEVER any talk of issues that matter – overshoot, population, energy, climate. Denial in all it’s glory!!
          Sad state of affairs.


    1. I hate to point out inconsistencies, as it might be my own blindness. I read the article and I don’t doubt that someone could put extremely tiny chips in a vaccine. BUT there are three problems I see: 1. This would require a VAST conspiracy and I’m always skeptical of conspiracies that require so many participants to keep their mouths shut. AND 2. It is possible using delicate, invasive surgery to put microscopically fine electrodes in human brains – the problem is placement (patients need to be awake for the surgeon to know what area they have hit), so how would you direct a chip to the right location to make a human automaton? AND finally there is the blood brain barrier that prevents almost everything in the blood stream except small molecules from getting into the brain and any chip that we have is considerably larger than small molecules. IMHO this is bad science fiction.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope it’s is bad science fiction. But researchers at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China have created “neutrobots”, microrobots that can breach the blood-brain barrier and which are controllable by magnetic fields.
        What an opportunity to control people and zap those who don’t obey.

        Former Pfizer VP and Chief Scientific Officer Dr Mike Yeadon warns that the “vaccinate the world plan” will give rise to a unified database of every person on the planet. For each person there will be a common standard digital ID associated with their vaccination status. That database will be used to grant certain privileges such as the right to travel. Then permissions & privileges will steadily be made more stringent until you will legally be unable to leave your dwelling. Israel is leading by example and the U.K. will be next and you’ll turn up when ordered to do so for your next “top up vaccine”, Yeadon says. Apocalyptical stuff…


        1. Given that 99.9% of citizens do not understand the laws of thermodynamics that govern our economy, and won’t vote for population reduction policies because they deny our overshoot predicament, I think it would be a good idea for leaders to create a mechanism to constrain the travels and consumption of citizens so that we have a better chance of avoiding the wars and genocide normally associated with scarcity as fossil energy depletes and climate change reduces agricultural yields.

          But I don’t think our leaders are smart or aware enough to devise such a plan, and even if they are there is little chance it could be kept secret for long.

          But if I’m wrong, good on them for trying because the default denial path we are on will result in billions suffering and dying over the next 100 years.

          Liked by 2 people

  23. David Spratt on our carbon budget:

    IPCC carbon budgets underestimate current and future warming, omit important climate system feedback mechanisms, and make dangerous assumptions about risk-management.

    1.5°C of warming is likely by 2030 or earlier, a product of past emissions.

    There is no carbon budget for the 1.5°C goal; such “budgets” rely on overshoot, with unrealistic reliance on speculative technologies.

    The current level of greenhouse gases is enough for around 2°C of warming, or more.

    2°C of warming is far from safe, and may trigger the “Hothouse Earth” scenario.

    There is no carbon budget for 2°C if a sensible risk-management approach is taken.

    Even accepting the IPCC carbon budget for 2°C at face value, emissions need to be zero before 2030 for developed countries with higher per capita emissions.




    This is largely a desert country, with a land area equal to about a third that of the 48 adjacent United States. Ninety percent of it is too dry to be cultivated. In the past, it was a loose organization of tribes, many of which were desert nomads, together with some fishermen along the coast of the Gulf.

    The first oil well was completed on March 3, 1938. By 1979, it produced more than 27 million barrels of oil and is still pumping today. At that time, the population of Saudi Arabia was approximately three million. It is now about 29 million.

    Thanks to the immense wealth derived from oil, Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, grew in less than a century from a mud-wall city of no more than 20,000 people, to a metropolis of five million.

    As late as 1954, Saudi Arabia had only 147 miles of paved roads. By 1986, Saudi Arabia had built more than 50,000 miles of pavement. The number of vehicles using these roads increased from 60,000 in 1970, to nearly four million in 2005.

    Saudi Arabia came almost as far in 70 years in terms of its standard of living, and the use of modern technology and equipment, as the United States did in 300 years, or as the European nations did in thousands of years. In relative terms, the Saudis arrived in the modern world almost overnight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rob,
      I hate to be the bearer of bad news, you are but a victim of the distributed idea suppression complex (DISC). You fail to grasp the concept of load bearing fictions and that the problem of over-population is anti-interesting. It’s all part of the gated institutional narrative (GIN). Yes, I know…it’s a lot to take in. Mysterious times call for a mysterious lexicon.

      We are still living in Game A. Patience grasshopper. Game B is about to begin.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. That seems a little harsh for someone with Weinstein’s credentials. I applaud those who think outside the box. Especially if they create their own vocabulary to describe the world they see. Although, granted someone who proposes “The Theory of Everything” is opening themselves up to ridicule. Even if they are successful, brilliant and make loads of money.

          Of course my Theory of Everything is absolutely correct. My theory is that everything is absolutely fucked up.


          1. A big mystery that interests him is why economic growth and innovation began to decelerate and debt began in accelerate in the 70’s. He’s the perfect example of reality denial. A brilliant physicist who is unable to connect the dots between our economy and fossil energy.


            1. I have followed Eric’s opinions on the economy and he has good insights. My gloss on it is he is describing some of the economic “epiphenomena” associated with declining energy reserves.

              You mention connecting the dots. Like many others, I must have subconsciously absorbed the message that it was possible to decouple economic growth from energy consumption because almost no one was emphasizing bio-physical constraints in their models. Certainly it was not part of the popular culture or conversation. I did not full appreciate the critical linkage between our economy and fossil energy until I read Tim Garret about 7 years ago. Tom Murphy, Art Berman and others listed on your blog reinforce that linkage.


              1. What you say is true and is a good explanation for why most citizens do not understand overshoot.

                But Weinstein is different. He understands the laws of physics that govern our world, and is a brilliant polymath that seems to know something about every important topic except one: human overshoot due to our total dependence on non-renewable fossil energy.

                The fact that he is blind to only one thing, and it happens to be the most unpleasant thing (except mortality) for our brain to grok, makes Weinstein the poster child for Varki’s MORT theory.


                1. Is he blind? Has he affirmatively and publicly disavowed overshoot as a problem? His brother Bret is an evolutionary biologist PhD.


                  1. I’ve listened very carefully to Weinstein speak about the topics in this space and I’m quite confident that he denies human overshoot due to non-renewable energy depletion, and the effects rising energy costs have had on our economy.


  25. I’m watching the new 6 part BBC documentary series titled “Chris Packham’s Animal Einsteins”.

    Animals have to be smart to survive. Chris Packham reveals the natural world’s surprising brainboxes and uncovers the clever strategies that give certain species the upper hand.

    It’s very good and provides many examples of impressive intelligence in other species. I’m watching it, of course, for evidence that supports or conflicts with Varki’s MORT theory.

    So far I’ve seen no evidence that other animals deny mortality by believing in life after death or its corollary: God.

    Varki’s theory stands for another day.

    You can download the series here:


    1. I completed this 6 part series. The production quality is excellent. The content is intelligent and rich but not dry. The presenter is articulate with an agreeable personality.

      Highly recommended.


  26. The Overpopulation Podcast

    BRAVO for the Baby Bust!

    ” On an overpopulated planet, a baby bust is cause for celebration. It’s exactly what we need. Yet today, because of growth addiction and widespread ignorance of the overpopulation crisis, dropping birth rates are being universally reported as bad news. We circle up for roundtable discussion of the phenomenon – and provide the very important alternative, science-based, viewpoint – in this episode.”

    The econ 101 capitalist eternal growth monkeys are panicking because the demographics are not cooperating with their dogma.

    That’s right & more people in every new generation are choosing not to have kids because they don’t want to bring babies into a world that’s suffering more dire environmental consequences every year because of growth junkies fantasies coming true & some who want kids can’t afford it because the energy wealth was blown, at record speed, on growth for growth’s sake & others who want kids dicks & sperm counts have shrivelled up…. again due to the growth waste stream.

    Growth junkies got everything their little hearts dreamed of over the last 40 years. Unprecedented growth on a global scale. How’s that working out for y’all?

    Their other big growth fantasy, that a booming population is the solution, not the problem because billions of new fresh young minds will ‘innovate’ solutions, has blown up in their face too. Instead they got Billions of obese basement dwelling incels & highly educated & indebted young people who were sold a lie & are pissed & are joining various crisis cults who’s violent rhetoric is getting more violent, except for MAGA-tards who are past talking & have been perpetrating ever more violence on their scapegoats via mass back-shootings of unarmed civilians & beating up small female Asian immigrants or ‘suspected’ immigrants- cuz dey brought da covidd. Just a coincidence that there’s never any male immigrants around when they feel like stomping someone.

    The youth sound like they’d rather obliterate than innovate.

    Smashing shit, Hulk style, is the next big growth industry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dave Gardner produced the excellent documentary GrowthBusters and I followed him for a few years but then we had a disagreement about the implications of de-growth on credit and wealth and I quit him.

      Notice the tagline of his World Population Balance site: “Choosing Small Families to Solve Overpopulation”.

      It’s too late for small aka one child families. That was a good idea back in the 70’s when we were warned by the limits to growth study.

      Now we need most couples to have no families.

      And so we have yet another “green” organization misleading the public about what needs to be done.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Wolf Richter is very interesting and, from a long term view, completely irrelevant. There is no shame in that, though, just about all financial people are.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, that was very interesting. Looks like he paid a high personal price for his errors.

      In 1940, at the age of 51, Midgley contracted poliomyelitis, which left him severely disabled. He devised an elaborate system of ropes and pulleys to lift himself out of bed. In 1944, he became entangled in the device and died of strangulation.

      I’ll bet he was not an evil person with bad intentions. I’ll bet he thought he was improving the quality of our lives through better technology.


      1. The man typifies a common view among engineers, and the prevailing view in society generally, that technology will solve all and any problems – as you’d say, yet another form of endemic denial! All technology seems to do is compound the problems, simply pushing back that day of reckoning, allowing populations to just keep on growing while making the ultimate mess even more insoluble.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. This quote is from “The Martian” and sums up the prevailing view, “Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”


      2. I think it’s an apt allegory of technology at large, isn’t it? But instead of strangulation I guess it will be some kind of global Holodomor on steroids.

        Liked by 1 person

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