By Nick Breeze: Survivable IPCC Projections Based on Science Fiction: Reality is Far Worse

A must watch video.

The climate models our leaders are basing their decisions on are grossly optimistic.

By Jim White: Abrupt Climate Change: Past, Present, and Future

Climate is changing as humans put more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. With CO2 levels today around 400ppm, we are clearly committed to far more climate change, both in the near term, and well beyond our children’s future. A key question is how that change will occur. Abrupt climate changes are those that exceed our expectations, preparedness, and ability to adapt. Such changes challenge us economically, physically, and socially. This talk will draw upon results from ice core research over the past twenty years, as well as a new NRC report on abrupt climate change in order to address abrupt change, as seen in the past in ice cores, as seen today in key environmental systems upon which humans depend, and what may be coming in the future.
~ James White, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research

By Steve Keen: Credit Money: How it Works and Why it Fails

I need to get a small rant off my chest. I promised myself no finger-pointing on this site but I have to make an exception for Economists. With a total disregard for physical laws, the scientific method, and insufficient calculus skills to create a model that reflects reality, the embarrassing discipline of Economics makes it possible for anyone to prove anything. And they do. All the time. Not one economist in a hundred has a clue. And these people are the most important advisors to our governments. Perhaps it is the fact that economists can generate any answer to any question that makes them popular with politicians, who to get elected, must tell voters what they want to hear.

The only economist I listen to is Steve Keen. He has a lot of important things to say. What distinguishes him from the crowd, and you are really not going to believe this, is that he includes debt in his models. Do yah think debt might be important? Duh. He’s also well grounded in thermodynamics which is vital to understanding the economy.

Credit Money: How it Works and Why it Fails, Part 1

Credit Money: How it Works and Why it Fails, Part 2

Credit Money: How it Works and Why it Fails, Part 3

Why Are We Printing Money?

It’s a simple question.

You’ll hear different simple answers depending on the politics of the speaker. Talking heads on the news will usually say it’s to stimulate growth or to create jobs.

It’s also a big clue.

Large scale money printing has been tried many times in history and it never ends well.  We can expect modest inflation at best, high inflation, social unrest, and war at worst. We’ve been printing full steam for 5 years. They must know it’s risky. They must have a good reason. What’s the real reason?

Could it be?

1) The government is unable to borrow sufficient funds to cover their large deficit without causing interest rates to rise, which would force large cuts in services, and so makes up the shortfall with printed money.

2) The government is worried that if they stop printing the stock market will fall because it has become dependent on easy money. And they don’t want the stock market to fall because then people feel less wealthy and spend less.

3) The government wants to encourage retirement accounts to switch from low risk interest bearing investments to high risk equities, thus stimulating the stock market and increasing investment in companies that might create growth.

4) The big banks are in trouble and are dependent on money printing from which they skim fees and carry trades to rebuilt their reserves.

5) The government wishes to debase the currency to improve export competitiveness.

6) The government seeks to cause inflation as a means of reducing real levels of public and private debt because they know the underlying economy is struggling to service its high debt level.

7) There is little or no real growth which means the money supply is not growing fast enough to cover interest owed on existing debts, and given high debt levels, a large deflationary collapse would occur without a continual injection of new printed money.

There may be some truth in all 7 possibilities, but I discount the first 5 because we’ve had government cutbacks, high interest rates, stock market crashes, bank failures, and competitiveness problems in the past, and we recovered just fine.

I also discount 6) because inflation will cause interest rates to rise which will be a very big problem for governments with high debt.

That leaves 7) which I think is the main reason.

We’ve bumped up against limits to growth.

By Steven Kopits: Global Oil Market Forecasting: Main Approaches & Key Drivers

One of the best talks I’ve seen by an oil industry analyst.

The Center on Global Energy Policy hosted a presentation and discussion with Steven Kopits, Managing Director, Douglas-Westwood, on the different approaches to global oil market forecasting. Mr. Kopits’ remarks focused on both supply and demand-based methodologies, including how these models result in different assumptions and implications for oil supply (OPEC and non-OPEC), total oil demand and oil price. He also reviewed other key drivers such as changes in the transport sector and overall economic growth and discussed how these variables can further impact oil demand and supply.

The Big Picture on One Page

Flation

 

  • our incomes are not rising…
  • which prevents us from increasing our already high debt…
  • which prevents us from affording higher oil prices…
  • which prevents an increase in oil production…
  • which prevents an increase in productivity…
  • which prevents an increase in wealth creation…
  • which prevents our incomes from rising (see above)…
  • which prevents the money supply from increasing…
  • which threatens our ability to pay interest on existing debts…
  • which threatens the value of debts…
  • which threatens a deflationary collapse…
  • which threatens social unrest…
  • which threatens politician’s jobs…
  • which guarantees money printing will continue until it can’t…
  • which erodes the value of our retirement savings…
  • and someday (probably after a crash) will cause fierce inflation…
  • which will make food and other necessities very expensive…
  • which will create social unrest…
  • which will threaten politician’s jobs…
  • which will encourage despots…
  • and thanks to geology…
  • it will cost more next year to produce the same quantity of oil…
  • and the year after…
  • and so on until it costs 1 barrel of oil to produce 1 barrel of oil…
  • and then we will use 100% renewable energy…
  • just like the Romans…
  • except we have to feed 7 billion instead of 100 million…
  • and producing food will be a challenge…
  • with most of the good soil, fish, and forests gone…
  • and an unstable climate…
  • and rising sea levels…
  • and scarce fertilizer…
  • and wars between tribes over remaining resources.

What to Expect as We Collapse

What are we likely to experience as we collapse?

  • unemployment will rise
  • incomes will fall
  • interest rates will rise
  • stock and bond prices will fall
  • real estate prices will fall
  • credit availability will decline
  • trade will decline and may become sporadic due to credit system problems
  • fewer imported goods will be available — think about how few durable items are manufactured in Canada
  • food prices will increase due to less availability of imported food and consequent higher demand for local food
  • large-scale industrial food production may be disrupted due to rising interest rates and supply chain problems however governments will probably make it a priority to keep big agriculture going
  • energy prices and consumption will fall as fewer consumers are able to afford it
  • the upper bound on energy flow rates will decline because lower prices will not support expensive extraction like tar sands and fracking
  • total economic activity will shrink in parallel with declining energy consumption
  • air travel will decline or stop for all but the rich
  • many cars will be abandoned as operating costs becomes unaffordable and resale value approaches zero
  • roads and infrastructure will fall into disrepair
  • electricity may become intermittent in some regions
  • social unrest and crime will increase
  • tax rates will increase, tax revenues will decline, demand for social programs will increase, and governments will be forced to choose between more social unrest now due to deflation, or more social unrest in the future due to inflation — most will chose inflation
  • the severity of the pressure on governments will result in collapse or hyper-inflation for some countries, especially those will no indigenous energy or goods to trade for energy
  • war between countries competing for scarce resources and/or seeking scapegoats is probable
  • everyone will experience hardship but farmers without debt will probably do best

The collapse will likely occur in steps and will continue for about 100 years until all affordable fossil fuels have been extracted at which point civilization will resemble medieval life, assuming we have not gone extinct through famine, disease, or wars.

Layered on top of this economic and social chaos will be a rapidly changing and violent climate that will disrupt food production and cause economic damage. We can expect a warming impulse with unknown but likely negative consequences when aerosol particulates drop with declining industrial activity and air travel.

The Universe and Its Purpose

I have read many books on astronomy and physics. Here are a few of the important ideas that stuck with me:

  • We have deduced mathematical laws of physics that accurately describe and predict the universe’s behavior.
  • Some of the laws of physics, such as quantum mechanics, are very strange but they work remarkably well.
  • The universe began about 13.8 billion years ago as a big bang of extremely dense energy.
  • A few constants define how the universe evolved after the big bang. It seems these constants could have been different resulting in a completely different universe. We do not know why they are the way they are.
  • We do not and probably never will know what existed before the big bang, nor whether our universe is unique or one of many, nor whether our universe is infinite or finite.
  • As the big bang expanded and cooled some of the energy converted into light gases.
  • These gases formed clouds which collapsed under gravity to form stars.
  • As these stars aged some exploded and created heavier elements like carbon and other materials necessary for life.
  • Some of these heavier elements collapsed into new stars and planets including our sun and earth about 4.5 billion years ago. All life is thus amazingly composed of exploded star-dust.
  • There are a mind-boggling 300 sextillion (3×1023) stars in the universe and probably more planets.
  • Shortly after our earth formed it was randomly struck by a mars sized body which created our moon.
  • The moon helped to create an environment hospitable for life by stabilizing earth’s rotation and creating tides.
  • Our sun will use up its fuel and consume the earth in about 6 billion years.
  • The universe’s expansion is accelerating and we do not know what the “dark energy” is that is causing this.
  • We calculate more gravity than should exist for the mass we observe and we do not know what this “dark matter” is.
  • 95% of the universe is dark energy and dark matter (the stuff we do not yet understand).
  • The universe began as high quality dense energy and most scientists think it will end in about 100 trillion years as low quality diffuse energy – cold, black, and without life.

The amount we understand about the universe is quite remarkable and is something to be genuinely proud of as a member of the human species.

We have found no need for a god to explain anything in the universe, unless we want to assign a reason for the laws of physics being the way they are, in which case such a god would have no resemblance to any of the gods worshiped by our many religions.

I find it enlightening to contemplate the purpose or objective of the universe.

Since the universe started as high quality dense energy and its destination is low quality diffuse energy it is reasonable to state that the objective of the universe is to degrade energy.

Structures and mechanisms which degrade energy can and will form provided they are consistent with the laws of physics. Those structures and mechanisms which degrade energy the most effectively are the most likely to exist.

Another way to think about this is that wherever an energy gradient exists, things (work) can happen, and given enough time they will happen, provided the laws of physics permit it.

This is important because life is an excellent mechanism for degrading energy. Life is thus probable everywhere in the universe that has conditions that permit it to exist.

Humans are the Earth’s most effective species at degrading energy. We dominate the planet because of this talent, and although in the process we are causing the extinction of many other species and probably causing our own collapse, it is interesting to observe that humans are doing what the universe wants. That is, burning all of the fossil energy as quickly as possible to convert it into low quality waste heat thus helping the universe to arrive at its destination as quickly as possible.

If humans had not learned to exploit fossil energy then some other species would probably have evolved to exploit this energy gradient.

It is probable that intelligent life has evolved many (but not too many) times in the universe but always collapses shortly after it learns how to exploit fossil energy. This may explain why we have not heard from any other intelligent life despite years of listening.

This interactive tool titled The Scale of the Universe 2 by Cary Huang is excellent for helping to visualize our place in the universe:

http://htwins.net/scale2/

Or if you prefer to watch it as a video:

By Tom Murphy: Growth has an Expiration Date

Here is a classic by physicist Tom Murphy.

This is my favorite talk on limits to growth, the most important topic almost no one discusses, including people who should know better, like the Green Party.

Note that Murphy does not mention the explosive worldwide growth in debt, which is the only reason the game has continued longer than engineers like myself predicted it should.

The problem with our reliance on debt is that when the correction comes, it will be much more violent and damaging than it needed to be, which is another topic that the Green Party, and almost everyone else, does not discuss.

In summary, the most important things we should be discussing, are the things we never discuss.

Isn’t that an amazing behavior for an otherwise intelligent species?