Chris Martenson yesterday unveiled what has been going on behind the scenes at Peak Prosperity.
I salute Martenson’s honesty for explaining how difficult it has been to make a living from overshoot education.
As an aside, I don’t think he’s aware of it, but the reason it’s so hard to teach overshoot is explained by Varki’s MORT theory.
It seems there were 3 key problems at Peak Prosperity:
insufficient revenue from selling overshoot education;
one partner who wanted to focus on science based journalism, and one partner who wanted to focus on how to profit from the coming economic collapse;
a threat to revenue from YouTube’s censorship of Martenson’s excellent science based COVID-19 journalism.
Martenson shared something that troubles me (even more than I already was) about out future:
I created the Crash Course in 2008 because it didn’t exist. I’m proud of all that the Crash Course has accomplished – without it Peak Prosperity would never have come into being – and while it represents some of the best work of my life (so far), if it didn’t already exist I would not invest the time to create the Crash Course today.
Why not? Because the world has changed and I don’t think it would be even slightly receptive to that material now. The Crash Course had a huge impact in 2008. My assessment is that today it would fall flat and gain little traction. The programming against critical thinking and independent thought is too pervasive and successful. In brief, from my perspective,the world has gone a bit mad. It’s lost its grip on reality.
In case you aren’t aware of it, Martenson’s Crash Course is the best introduction to our overshoot predicament available anywhere. It was instrumental on my personal journey to awareness, and I thank Martenson for his excellent work.
There are two dimensions to his statement that trouble me.
First, Martenson is saying that citizens today are less interested in understanding reality than they were 10 years ago. It’s a concern because to reduce future suffering we need the overshoot awareness trend to be increasing rather than decreasing. The more we grow our population, deplete critical resources, degrade ecosystems, and inflate our debt bubble, the greater the eventual suffering we will experience. By denying an unpleasant reality we are making the eventual reality more unpleasant.
Although I think I understand the underlying reason for this trend, which is that our genetic tendency to deny reality is proportional to the unpleasantness of the reality, and our predicament today is much much worse than it was 10 years ago, it still deeply troubles me.
Second, Martenson is saying that if he were to start Peak Prosperity today he would not invest the time to create the Crash Course because insufficient people would pay for it.
Martenson is one of only two individuals out of eight billion (the other being Nate Hagens) that has taken the time to create a high quality video course on everything every citizen should understand to be a good citizen.
And he says he wouldn’t do it again because no one would watch it.
At the end of this post I will add periodic updates on the case trend in Israel so that we can determine whether Bossche’s claims are likely true or false.
Geert Vanden Bossche, a vaccine expert with 3o years experience, thinks our vaccination policy has a high probability of causing the virus to mutate into variants that cause more serious illness, and that people who have been vaccinated will spread the virus rather than protecting those that have not been vaccinated, and that the immune systems of vaccinated people will be less effective at fighting future variants of the virus.
Bossche believes we are on the cusp of creating a global catastrophe and is asking the WHO to change course, and is calling on other scientists to engage in scientific review and debate of the risks.
Thanks to Nehemiah @ OFW for bringing Bossche to my attention.
I posted some of this material in the comments section of the last post, but after further review and thought, I decided it’s important enough to warrant its own post.
My initial reaction was to dismiss Bossche as yet another wack job / conspiracist / anti-vaxxer / pandemic denier. After reviewing Bossche’s credentials and thinking carefully about what he’s saying I concluded his concerns are worthy of consideration and may prove to be serious.
His message is a little difficult to understand because the topic is inherently complex, is not intuitive without some understanding of biology, and he speaks fast with an accent.
My objective of this post was to make it easier to understand Bossche’s key points, and to make all of his source information easily accessible.
In case any readers are wondering why I am distrustful of the authorities, it is because the biggest issue by far that we face, the danger of which far exceeds the virus, is human overshoot, the symptoms of which are climate change, non-renewable resource depletion, unsustainable debt, habitat destruction, and species extinction, which is completely ignored by our leaders, and the policies they have chosen are making much worse the future suffering that will be experienced when it is no longer possible to deny human overshoot. If our leaders don’t have a clue about the important issues, why would we trust them on lesser issues?
Here are the key points I think Bossche is making.
Note: If I have made any errors in summarizing Bossche I will promptly correct them when informed.
What is the big picture background?
We are conducting an unprecedented global experiment by broadly administering a vaccine in the middle of a pandemic, while having an imperfect understanding of pandemic science.
For example, we do not understand why pandemics usually have 3 waves before dying out. Or why pandemics often first attack old people and then shift to younger people in subsequent waves.
Given our imperfect understanding, our priority should be to do no harm.
Experts today are so specialized that very few have an integrated big picture view.
Our culture today is fixated on technology as being the solution to all of our problems.
Do our officials and experts have any bad intentions?
The vaccines were developed by brilliant people in professional companies, have been properly tested for safety, and achieve the objective of preventing people from becoming sick when exposed to the virus.
Why have officials chosen a plan for mass vaccinations?
Their top priority is to prevent the medical system from crashing in the short term due to an overload of sick people. They are not thinking about the long term.
I would add, which Bossche did not mention, that governments are anxious to restart their economies because they know the system is fragile and susceptible to a deflationary crash, and because current emergency deficit spending is not sustainable.
What are the characteristics of the vaccines we’re using?
The vaccines prevent someone from becoming sick when exposed to the virus for which the vaccine was designed.
The vaccines do not kill the virus. A vaccinated person can spread the virus without showing any symptoms.
Bossche claims that the immune system of a vaccinated person will be less able to fight variants of the virus for which the vaccine is ineffective. In other words, an unvaccinated person may stand a better chance against future virus variants.
A vaccine is not like a drug that is eventually expelled by your body. A vaccine permanently reprograms your immune system software. Because of this, the precautionary principle is critical.
What are the problems with the current vaccination plan?
Mass vaccinations, in the middle of a pandemic, which do not kill the virus, and which keep the recipient healthy and thus less prone to spread the virus, will apply strong selection pressure to the virus for mutations that both evade the vaccine AND make people sicker.
If more deadly variants of the virus emerge we will not be able to outrace them with new vaccines. In other words, if we inadvertently create a more deadly variant, we have no exit plan.
Why did Bossche become alarmed, and why is he speaking up so late in the game?
Bossche’s studies of pandemic history suggest it is very unusual for more virulent strains to emerge late in a pandemic. When more virulent strains were reported in late 2020 he became concerned and suspected that our lock-down policies may have encouraged the virus to mutate. Then he thought about the implications of broadly vaccinating both healthy and unhealthy people and decided to pull the fire alarm.
What should we have done?
Protected vulnerable people with some combination of isolation and vaccinations.
Allowed the virus to spread and build natural immunity in the healthy portion of the population.
Encouraged lifestyles for healthy immune systems.
How will we know if Bossche is right?
In countries with aggressive vaccination programs (Israel, UK, US) we should see an initial decline in cases, followed in a few weeks or few months by new variants and a rise in cases.
Here is the COVID data for Israel which we can monitor to help decide if Bossche is right or wrong:
Profile: Experienced management professional; expert in vaccine R&D and early vaccine dvpt,; proficiency in program and grant management; used to working in a heavily interconnected environment (in private and nonprofit sector) while managing the needs of numerous stakeholders. Proven track record of success in designing and developing vaccines, managing dynamic, high-performing consortia, developing efficient processes to deliver impact, offering expert scientific-technical advice on complex immunisation projects, leading vaccine R&D work as CSO. Proficiency in program management, team leadership, patent writing, laboratory research, immunology, epidemiology, microbiology, vaccine technologies, preclinical vaccine dvpt. Substantial experience in strategic budgeting, CMC- and IP-related matters, incl. patent infringement and litigations. Over 2 decades of professional experience working in Europe and the US in managing implementation of immune interventions to address unmet medical needs. Highly familiar with major challenges in Global Health (as previously engaged with B. & M. Gates Foundation and GAVI).
Here is a March 1 keynote given by Bossche at the Vaccines Summit Ohio 2021 titled “Why should current Covid-19 vaccines not be used for mass vaccination during a pandemic”.
Here are the slides from the March 1 keynote:
Here is the March 6 post of his open letter:
Here is the full text of his open letter published on March 6:
Here is an excellent March 8 interview with Bossche:
Here is another March 6 interview, which I did not enjoy as much as the above interview:
Here is Bossche’s March 11 appeal to the WHO to change course:
Here is a March 12 statement from Bossche distancing himself from the crazies who are misrepresenting his concerns.
Here is a March 12 detailed rebuttal to Bossche’s claims which I skimmed but don’t understand. If anyone does understand this, please translate for us.
March 14 addition…
Here is another presentation by Canadian researcher Byram Bridle that supports Bossche’s claims.
Historically it usually takes 10 years to develop a vaccine. The previous shortest record was 4 years.
There is a lack of peer reviewed data to assess the current vaccines.
Those that are being vaccinated now are participating in what was previously called a phase 3 trial during which they monitor the safety of the vaccines.
There have been historic examples of new vaccines where the short term safety profile was good but long term problems emerged after 2 years of use.
There is good reason to believe that the efficacy data being reported may prove to be optimistic.
Some countries (like Israel) are changing the protocol for administering the vaccines from what was tested and approved. That’s a apparently a big high risk no-no in this industry.
A total of 8 pregnant woman have been vaccinated, 4 of which aborted shortly thereafter.
The type of vaccines we have chosen, and the method we are using to roll out them out, is maximizing the probability that vaccine immune variants will emerge. He thinks it’s only a matter of time.
People who have been vaccinated will do less well against vaccine immune variants than people who have not been vaccinated.
Bridle predicts that in the end we will be forced to adopt the strategy that we should have adopted from the start which is to build natural herd immunity.
He’s cautiously optimistic that there may already be considerable herd immunity in countries like Canada that have not been locked down all the time and because the PPE we have been using is ineffective against the virus.
He personally will not take the vaccine because he has a low risk profile and prefers the broader protection of natural immunity. He thinks people with high risk profiles should consider taking the vaccine.
He predicts historians will document this period as the greatest mismanaged crisis of all time.
March 17 addition…
Here is a rebuttal to Bossche’s claims. I did not appreciate that ZDoggMD spent more time attacking Bossche’s character and making fun of his accent than he did discussing Bossche’s claims, of which he only addressed 2 of the 4 key points made by Bossche, and provided just as little hard data as Bossche did.
I don’t know who’s right. I’m going watch the Israel data over the coming weeks to decide.
March 20 update.
Israel cases are still trending down with 56% of population vaccinated.
March 31 update.
Israel cases still trending down with 57% of population vaccinated. No evidence yet that Bossche is right.
April 9 update.
Israel cases have leveled off with 58% of population vaccinated. No evidence yet that Bossche is right.
Brilliant new talk by my favorite alien engineer, Jean-Marc Jancovici.
If you only have 90 minutes to spare, and you want to understand everything that matters about how the world works, and the nature of our overshoot predicament, and what we need to do to minimize future suffering, then this talk is the best use of your time.
Jean-Marc Jancovici is an advisor to the French government on climate change and energy as part of the French High Council for Climate. He is a founding partner of Carbon 4, a Paris-based data consultancy specializing in low carbon transition and the physical risks of climate change (www.carbone4.com). He is also the founder and president of The Shift Project, a Paris-based think tank advocating for a low carbon economy (www.theshiftproject.org). Jean-Marc Jancovici also serves as an associate professor at Mines ParisTech.
The thermo-industrial development of our society has been possible due to resource extraction and the transformation of our environment. Unfortunately, it has led to severe environmental consequences that humanity is experiencing around the globe: shifting and unpredictable climate, extreme weather events, and biodiversity collapse. Humanity is paying the consequences for technical and technological progress. Thus, can technology still save us from climate change?
Jean-Marc Jancovici will address this question through the paradigm of energy. He will first detail how modern society is structured around thermal and nuclear energies, and will then discuss the impact of this structure on global climate and society. Finally, Jean-Marc Jancovici will conclude by exploring the trade-offs between economic growth and sustainable climate stewardship.
Thank you to X for finding this new talk by professor Tim Garrett.
Garrett has developed the most significant and useful theory for explaining the relationship between climate change and the economy.
In this talk, Garrett explains his theory and tears a strip off climate scientists for their unscientific beliefs.
Garrett, in the Q&A, discusses the disgraceful manner that climate scientists have responded to his theory. I think the fact that almost all climate scientists ignore or deny Garrett’s theory is one of the most compelling pieces of evidence in support of Varki’s MORT theory.
Paraphrasing Garrett, an educated person would not infer from the above plot that human agency has an impact on climate trajectories. Instead, a naive person might reasonably conclude that CO2 emissions are caused by COP climate change accords. 🙂
Garrett used to summarize the conclusion of his theory as:
US$1 (1990) = 9.7 mW
Garrett is now expressing the same conclusion as:
5.8 gigawatts = US$1 trillion (2010)
Garrett observes that a single atmospheric chemist stationed on Mauna Loa would more accurately measure global GDP than the tens of thousands of idiot economists we employ.
One component of Biden’s climate change plan calls for more efficient appliances, machines, and buildings. Garrett shows that this piece of Biden’s plan will make climate change worse because the more efficient we are, the more we grow.
Garrett does not discuss it, but Biden’s plan would help if we tax away all of the savings that result from improved efficiency and use the taxes to pay down public debt. Biden of course would not have been elected if he included this in his plan.
Garrett also does not discuss the simplest solution for reducing CO2 emissions, which one person at a keyboard can implement: increase the interest rate. Garrett’s theory predicts a higher interest rate will reduce emissions because our wealth would reduce through defaults.
Garrett correctly observes that our current path of trying to switch to renewable energy will increase the combustion of fossil energy, but he doesn’t add the important caveat, until fossil energy depletion collapses our economy.
Garrett remains blind to one key piece of the puzzle: The depletion of affordable fossil energy has created a global debt bubble because the cost of extracting fossil energy is now higher than what consumers can afford. When this debt bubble pops, our wealth and CO2 emissions will decline, a lot. Curious minds want to know if the bubble will pop soon and fast enough to retain a climate compatible with a much poorer civilization.
My take away: The only path to maintaining our wealth and reducing CO2 emissions in time to possibly prevent a climate incompatible with civilization is to switch to nuclear power more quickly than we can possibly afford. And so our wealth will decline regardless of what we do.
One path, if we somehow breakthrough our genetic tendency to deny reality, might be a managed and civil decline. The other path will be chaotic and uncivil.
You can find more work by Garrett that I’ve posted here.
P.S. I note from the title slide that economist Steve Keen was a collaborator. Steve Keen, in case you’re not aware, is one of the only economists on the planet with a clue. The behavior of economists differs from climate scientists in that idiocy explains the former and denial the latter. Here is some of Steve Keen’s work that I’ve posted.
I watched the new documentary Hot Money by Susan Kucera tonight.
An intelligent world-wise father (General Wesley Clark) and his son discuss some of the problems we face with many smart participants. I don’t think they interviewed a single idiot, which was refreshing.
They know something is seriously wrong and make an honest attempt to connect the dots. They come tantalizingly close to a complete picture of reality, but miss the all important overshoot drivers of over population and declining returns from non-renewable energy.
Which of course means they understand everything, except what matters.
Nevertheless, Hot Money is excellent and worth watching because it has a lot of intelligent substance.
I also think it indicates a growing mainstream awareness of how close we are to collapsing, and I suspect herd awareness (coupled with denial of the real causes) may be the trigger.
Some of the important points made:
the financial system is a bomb waiting to explode, climate change may be the trigger
climate change is real and very serious
droughts, floods, and fires are a big problem now
it now takes more than 3 dollars of debt to create 1 dollar of growth, it used to take less than 1 dollar of debt to create 1 dollar of growth
farmers are struggling and failing due to climate change, debt, high input costs, and low crop prices
real incomes and living standards are falling despite lower taxes than the 50’s
some young couples are not having children because they see a terrible future
it was much easier to make a profit in the good old days, doubly so if you were early enough to steal land from the aboriginals
companies now invest more money in stock buy-backs than R&D
there is no such thing as trickle down economics
the financial system is now too complex for its players to understand – it’s like trying to understand quantum mechanics when you don’t have high school physics
the planet is a finite physical system and the financial system is unbounded – the two systems are incompatible
Venezuela is a preview of where the USA is headed
if the government isn’t competent enough to deal with homelessness in L.A., how can it possibly deal effectively with COVID?
Americans live under the illusion that they are different and could never descend into the savagery they’ve witnessed elsewhere in the world
the Kosovo genocide was committed by and against people with homes, refrigerators, cars, kids in college, and who spoke the same language
people are turning on each other because the capitalist system is breaking down and climate change is causing scarcity
there will be a billion displaced people within 30 years
it’s unlikely the Romans could give us advice on how to avoid collapse
the wealth gap increases as a civilization collapses
many nest eggs will be wiped out when insurance companies won’t insure homes because of sea level rise
much of the oil industry’s infrastructure is at risk from sea level rise
rich people are not investing enough in renewable energy because they can make better returns elsewhere
governments must step up to invest in what needs to be done
most authorities think we have 30 years to act before civilization collapses, some people think it’s already too late
the most valuable thing in the world is oil reserves in the ground, but the damage burning oil causes is even higher – we must tax carbon energy
we need a cultural change to accept less – but that’s hard
nothing comes for free, everything costs energy
renewable energy cannot replace fossil energy and satisfy our greed, but it can help us survive
the food system is a huge consumer of energy (lots of interesting detail here)
our energy system is highly dependent on water which is being disrupted by climate change
we need to democratize the electric grid to accelerate renewable energy, but that requires a long range plan which we don’t have
we should tax pollution and use the funds to improve the grid and to pay farmers to sequester carbon
we will not be able to re-order our system until it crashes, but if we wait until we crash we’ll be too poor to fight climate change – it’ll be like asking Somalia to fight climate change
the final scene has the son arguing that we’re not facing reality; and the father arguing that we can use our democracy to solve the problems, fade to “The End?”
there is no one driving the bus, our leaders don’t have a plan
no mention of population reduction or peak oil, not even a whisper
P.S. Ugo Bardi is featured in a couple clips discussing the collapse of the Roman empire, how we may be starting down a Seneca cliff, and the viability of renewable energy.
P.P.S. My favorite central banker, Canadian Mark Carney, has a clip in which he says the main role of central banks is to pull wealth from the future into the present.
P.P.P.S The cost of insurance for the small farm I assist more than doubled this year to over $6,000, I suspect due to climate change. We have to sell a lot of lettuce to earn $6,000. 😦
With wit, satire, and historical context, Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, General Wesley Clark and his son Wes Clark Jr. take us on a journey through the financial circulatory system connecting farmers, homeowners, bankers, academics, and business professionals in a tale that explains the knot of economic forces that can lead to collapse and how to untie it.
SYNOPSIS Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, General Wesley Clark and his son Wes Clark Jr. take us on a journey through the complicated realities of our financial system and its profound exposure to climate change. Hot Money outs the whole game, the whole charade, the whole crapshoot of the money system with all the humor and intelligence of a New Yorker cartoon. Combined with the wisdom of international business experts and academics, Hot Money is rich with historical context. It severs the knot of economic and political forces that may lead to societal collapse.
DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT I met General Clark and his son Wes Jr. while filming Living In the Future’s Past, then met the General again at a speaking engagement two years later and the kernel of a film planted itself in my mind – a conversation between a father and son on how climate change will affect our financial system. It seemed logical to follow up to the introspective Living In The Future’s Past with a nuts and bolts view of how the machinery of our money system contributes and reacts to climate change. We lined up a broad and diverse cast of experts who’ve spent their lives doing the work. What we could see emerging was an easy to understand story whose depth is masked by its light-hearted breeziness. The Covid 19 pandemic cut short our filming and I turned to a New Yorker cartoonist to visualize concepts so somebody like me, who doesn’t have an MBA or ever worked in finance, can be simultaneously entertained and enlightened about one of the prime forces driving our world – debt.
Hot Money is an important film for right now as America stands on the brink of conflict. Many people lack context interpreting the world and this documentary delivers it. Conversations taped more than a year ago about wildfires making homes impossible to insure and the ripple effect that will roar through the financial system seem as startlingly prescient as the scenes describing populist breakdown in a country like Venezuela and how it can happen here. Hot Money offers a glimpse into our future and a chance to avoid the dangerous course we are on. To solve a problem we have to understand it.
Thanks to friend and retired blogger Gail Zawacki at Wit’s End for bringing this excellent new talk by professor William Rees to my attention.
Rees discusses our severe state of ecological overshoot and the behaviors that prevent us from taking any useful action to make the future less bad.
Rees thinks there are two key behaviors responsible for our predicament:
Base nature, which we share with all other species, to use all available resources. Most people call this the Maximum Power Principle.
Creative nurture. Our learned culture defines our reality and we live this constructed reality as if it were real. “When faced with information that does not agree with their [preformed] internal structures, they deny, discredit, reinterpret or forget that information” – Wexler.
I don’t disagree with Rees on the existence or role of these behaviors, but we also need Varki’s MORT theory to explain how denial of unpleasant realties evolved and is symbiotic with our uniquely powerful intelligence, and other unique human behaviors, such as our belief in gods and life after death.
Some interesting points made by Rees:
The 2017 human eco-footprint exceeds biocapacity by 73%.
Half the fossil fuels and many other resources ever used by humans have been consumed in just the past 30 years.
Efficiency enables more consumption.
The past 7 years are the warmest 7 years on record.
Wild populations of birds, fish, mammals, and amphibians have declined 60% since 1970. Populations of many insects are down about 50%.
The biomass of humans and their livestock make up 95-99% of all vertebrate biomass on the planet.
Human population planning has declined from being the dominant policy lever in 1969 to the least researched in 2018.
The annual growth in wind and solar energy is about half the total annual growth in energy. In others words, “renewable” energy is not replacing fossil energy, it’s not even keeping up.
The recent expansion of the human enterprise resembles the “plague phase” of a one-off boom/bust population cycle.
50 years, 34 climate conferences, a half dozen major international climate agreements, and various scientists’ warnings have not reduced atmospheric carbon concentrations.
We are tracking to the Limit to Growth study’s standard model and should expect major systemic crashes in the next 40 to 50 years.
This is the new “age of unreason”: science denial and magical thinking.
Climate change is a serious problem but a mere symptom of the greater disease.
ZeroHedge, the successful bad boy financial news reporting site, is shifting to a subscription model.
I might subscribe if ZeroHedge knew what the fuck was going on in the world, but they’re as much in denial about human overshoot as the mainstream news outlets.
Granted, ZeroHedge is at least willing to report on the daily insanities of our monetary and financial systems, which everyone else conveniently ignores, and I do value some of their observations, but they assume some evil cabal of elites is plotting to enrich themselves, rather than understanding that we’ve hit limits to growth caused by non-renewable energy depletion (and soon other non-negotiable constraints like climate change), and central banks are desperately printing money and using every slight of hand they can think of to extend and pretend a little longer our system that requires growth not to collapse.
Basically ZeroHedge doesn’t have a clue, and they make a living by feeding the conspiracy hungry crowd that congregates there. Not only do they not make the world a better place, they foment social unrest to make it a worse place.
So no, I won’t be subscribing.
Where can you go for intelligent apolitical reality based news?
It’s very hard to find.
Nobody important talks about what matters, and I guess they wouldn’t be important if they did, because most people don’t want to know the truth.
When this website launched 12 years ago, little did we know – or expect – that it would grow to become one of the most popular and trafficked financial blogs, let alone websites, in the world. Since then, ZeroHedge has expanded from being focused on purely esoteric concepts in finance and capital markets to covering geopolitics, social, political (and recently, healthcare) matters (if for no other reason than the central bank takeover of markets has made discussing centrally-planned “markets” borderline absurd and often painfully boring).
In those twelve years we have had the pleasure of sharing hundreds of thousands of notable news items, events and market absurdities with you, our readers, creating a magnificent support base of millions of fans who – for one reason or another – come to this site daily, sometimes dozens of times. In that period we have, of course, also spawned countless critics and haters, and that’s perfectly normal: that’s what free speech is all about – the ability to exchange opinions, often in a less than glorified manner, in order to reach a consensus or optimal conclusion. After all, that is one of the anchors that made America great.
Which is why what troubles us most, far more than the Fed’s vain and futile attempt to control the business cycle and plan markets (for the eventual outcome, see USSR), are the creeping attempts by various multinational entities and corporations to quash free speech, both elsewhere and here. It started with Facebook, which in May 2019 became the first “social network” to ban ZeroHedge, only to reverse shortly after (admitting it had made a mistake); this was followed a little over half a year later by Twitter, which “permanently” banned our account, only to admit 6 months later that it had “made a mistake” and reinstated us. But barely had the digital ink on these “mistaken” attempts to censor free speech dried, when the world’s biggest online advertising monopoly, Google, took the unprecedented step of demonetizing the website (following a similar step taken by PayPal). Why? Because it disapproved of the language in our comments (how or why it picked on this website’s comment section as opposed to millions of others, we will never know). To avoid a shutdown, and against our wishes, we were forced to implement comment moderation as the alternative was insolvency. Also, contrary to occasional laughable rumors, we don’t and have never had access to outside capital – be it political or financial – and have been reliant on the same advertising model we have used since inception.
Needless to say, whether due to “mistakes” or overt attempts to demonetize us, the writing on the wall was clear: while they may be entirely within their rights to do whatever they want as “private” companies, pardon monopolies, the ‘social’ and ad-based gatekeepers of online content – the twitters, the googles, the facebooks of the world – had launched an overt crusade to upend the uncensored internet, to snuff out independent thought, contrarian views, and inconvenient opinions and create one giant echo chamber of consent straight out of George Orwell. To do that they would use any and every tool they have access to, and unfortunately we had to comply with the whims of these monopolies which nobody in Congress has the guts to challenge directly and to strip them of their too-big-to-question powers.
When Google suspended us in June we said that a standalone website was in the works, one which is funded not by advertising – and is thus beholden to the biased internet titans of the world – but by you, our readers.
We are launching that website today, call it ZeroHedge Premium for lack of a better word.
Here’s what will happen next.
We will maintain the traditional zerohedge.com website as is, without a paywall and with ads… but since it has ads, it will also maintain the comment moderation – that, as we explained in June, was a prerequisite demand by Google. But parallel with that we are launching a “premium” website, where subscribers will not only never again have to see one more ad but more importantly will have access to a fully unmoderated comment section.
Our hope is to eventually have enough subscribers so we can do away with advertising altogether – call it a real-time experiment in media for the censorship age. Because “mistakes” and events in the past several years have made it clear to us – and we hope to you – that there is no such thing as free speech any more; if you really want “free speech” you have to pay for it (in the case of ZeroHedge, the premium subscription will be $1/day – less than the proverbial cup of coffee). We also hope that enough people sign up allowing us to aggressively grow our team and expand our coverage, both thematically and geographically, so we can provide you with better content, better coverage, better everything.
I recently purchased a 6 piece queen sheet set for my bed and marveled at how something so useful, and so difficult to make myself, could be so inexpensive, costing only $30, or about 2 hours of my labor at minimum wage.
I did a little digging and found this video on how fabric was made before fossil energy:
And this video on how fabric is made today with fossil energy:
A podcast I monitor serendipitously had an episode today on the history of fabric making.
Author and journalist Virginia Postrel talks about her book The Fabric of Civilization and How Textiles Made the World with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Postrel tells the fascinating story behind the clothes we wear and everything that goes into producing them throughout history. The history of textiles, Postrel argues, is a good way of understanding the history of the world.
For those who prefer video:
For those who prefer audio:
Postrel described the process required to make fabric products:
grow plants or breed sheep
harvest plants or sheer sheep
transport fiber to spinner
spin fiber into thread
stretch and twist
transport thread to weaver
weave fiber into fabric
set up warp threads
pass weft thread through alternate warp threads
cut and hem edges
transport fabric to manufacturer
manufacture final product
transport product to consumer
Postrel also provided some interesting data:
A single pair of jeans requires 10 Km of thread.
The fastest pre-fossil energy manual spinners in the world could produce 100m of thread per hour taking 13 x 8 hour days to produce enough thread for one pair of jeans.
A modern fossil energy spinning plant can produce 10 Km of thread in a few seconds.
Postrel did not provide data on how long it took to manually weave thread into denim for a pair of jeans, but the video above gives a pretty good idea.
A pair of jeans today costs me $15 or about 1 hour of my labor at minimum wage.
A basic twin sheet requires 46 Km of thread or 59 x 8 hour days for a fast pre-fossil manual spinner.
Again, no data on the weaving time.
Linen was, until the industrial revolution, a valuable family asset.
I can’t write a post without drawing a connection to reality denial.
In this case, Russ Roberts, a relative rocket scientist as far as mainstream economists go, never once in the interview drew a connection with non-renewable rapidly depleting fossil energy.
There was a long discussion on the economics of applying “technology” to textile production. But zero awareness of the link between technology and non-renewable energy.
Roberts did draw a connection between food and textiles in that he observed only 2% of the population are now farmers. Again, no apparent awareness of the centrality of natural gas for fertilizer and diesel for tractors and combines.
I’ve added Russ Roberts to my list of famous polymaths in denial, although I probably should have added instead “all economists except Steve Keen”.
This post was inspired by a comment from reader Kira. She asked if denying climate change was the same as denying death. I answered as follows:
“I suspect there are 2 main groups of people:
One group is the 95% of the population that doesn’t really understand the science or the severity of the problem. They see bad things happening with the weather, but they also hear on the news that countries have signed an agreement to prevent the temperature from rising more than 2 degrees, and they see neighbors buying solar panels and electric cars, which they’re told by experts are solutions to climate change, so their optimism bias that comes from genetic reality denial leads them to conclude that the climate problem is being addressed, and they put it out of mind.
The other group is the 5% that does understand the science and the severity of climate change. These people have enough intelligence and education to conclude that we are already screwed regardless of what we do, and that any effective mitigation effort must involve a rapid decrease in population and/or per capita consumption. It is within this group that genetic denial of unpleasant realities is operating in full force. Most of these experts genuinely believe that climate change can be safely constrained, and economic growth can continue, by replacing fossil energy with solar/wind energy and by using machines to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. These beliefs are so absurd, and so contrary to basic high school level science, that there can be no other explanation than genetic realty denial. In this group, maybe it is death that is the main thing being denied.”
Kira said she agreed and then suggested it might be better to let people, and especially young people, remain in blissful ignorance so that they do not become depressed and lose a sense of purpose.
I thought about it and created the following decision tree of possible paths to answer her question.
Humans are in serious trouble
Disagree (I believe in God or Steven Pinker)
path: Carry on and oppose anything that threatens your beliefs and lifestyle
Agree (I believe my eyes)
It’s too late to do anything useful (nature’s forces now dominate human forces)
Agree (a reasonable position given the data, but only if you think other species don’t matter, and 8 billion suffering humans is no worse than 8 billion minus 1 suffering humans)
path: Try not to think about it and enjoy the good days that remain and/or do some prepping to extend your good days
Disagree (there’s still time to make the future less bad, even if all we do is reduce harm to other species and/or total human suffering)
Humans can’t or won’t change their behavior in time
Agree (most of history says we only change when forced, and the coming debt/energy/climate collapse will be too severe for any good to come of it)
path: Try not to think about it and enjoy the good days that remain and/or do some prepping to extend your good days
Disagree (I believe Sapolsky that behavior is plastic and we have enough energy left to build a softer landing zone)
Genetic reality denial blocks any useful change
Disagree (I deny that I deny reality)
path: Make yourself feel good by recycling your garbage, shopping with reusable bags, buying an electric car, and voting Green
Agree (it’s not possible to act optimally without understanding reality)
Awareness of genetic realty denial will increase awareness of reality
Disagree (most people just want to pay their bills and watch TV)
path: Try not to think about it and enjoy the good days that remain and/or do some prepping to extend your good days
Agree (most people want to learn)
Awareness of reality will cause positive behavior changes
Disagree (if the majority understood reality it would be Mad Max)
path: Try not to think about it and enjoy the good days that remain and/or do some prepping to extend your good days
Agree (most people want to do the right thing, especially if pain is shared fairly)
This tree of (usually subconscious) decisions a person must make to decide which path to take about human overshoot results in 7 possible paths.
Six of the paths do not improve the outcome. One of the paths might improve the outcome, but has a very low probability of success because it’s currently occupied by a single old uncharismatic antisocial engineer.
Most people who really understand our overshoot predicament would probably discard my complicated decision tree and focus on a single issue: humans can’t or won’t change.
This view was recently voiced by reader Apneaman in a comment:
But can’t/wont. Have not.
Why? Like Sabine says…………
“Now, some have tried to define free will by the “ability to have done otherwise”. But that’s just empty words. If you did one thing, there is no evidence you could have done something else because, well, you didn’t. Really there is always only your fantasy of having done otherwise.“
No plan, no matter how spiffy & technically feasible, or logical argument can convince me that the humans are capable of collective change. I’ll need to see it to believe it. Same as God. Only Jesus floating down from the firmament & performing 10 miracles that are so spectacular they would make illusionist David Copperfield blush could convince me of the supernatural.
While true that it’s difficult to cause people to collectively do things they find unpleasant, or that conflict with the MPP objectives of their genes, it’s not impossible and not without precedent. I gave the following examples:
When the Canadian government says to its citizens:
Everyone must pay about 50% of their income as tax to operate the country.
Most citizens comply, and those that don’t are usually caught and forced to pay an extra penalty.
Germany has attacked our friend and we need our young men to risk their lives by fighting a war on a different continent.
Most eligible young men volunteered.
A virus threatens to overrun our healthcare system and we need citizens to stay at home except for essential activities which must be conducted with a mask.
Most citizens will comply.
Now if the Canadian government said to its citizens the combined threats of climate change and diesel depletion threaten our food security within 10 years, so we are putting in place incentives to encourage local food production and processing, and to decrease food imports, I think most citizens would support the plan.
If then after a couple years of further study and communication on the threat, the government said we don’t think there will be enough food to support our population in 10 years so we are stopping immigration and requiring families to have no more than one child, I think most citizens would comply.
The issue of course is that the Canadian government is not going to acknowledge or act on our overshoot threat in this manner.
I think it’s due to our genetic tendency to deny unpleasant realities, whenever we can get away with it.
Taxes, war, and viruses are very unpleasant, but they’re in your face and impossible to deny.
Food shortages 10 years out are easy to deny.
How do we change this?
It has to start with discussing and trying to understand our genetic tendency to deny unpleasant realities. Hence the path I’ve personally chosen in the above tree.