By Louis Arnoux: Twilight of the Oil Age: Out of Gas by 2030

The easy oil is gone. The oil that remains is hard and getting exponentially harder to find and extract, and to make a profit doing so. Each year it takes more energy to produce the same amount of energy meaning each year there is less energy left over for society. This is why people who think we have an energy glut are wrong.

Think of a coyote forced, because rabbits are becoming faster, to burn 2 rabbits worth of energy to catch 1 rabbit. Even though there are plenty of rabbits, the coyote is in serious trouble. The coyote could switch his diet to mice (solar & wind energy) but then he’d have to burn 3 mice of energy to catch 1 mouse. The coyote is able to lead a fairly normal life for a while because he burns fat (debt) that he built up in previous good years. The coyote knows it could make do with less food if it quit fighting, played slower games, and had fewer pups, but prefers not to change its lifestyle. Over time, the coyote becomes weak and sick, and then decides to change, but he no longer has the strength to catch any food.

This analysis by Louis Arnoux predicts we have between 6 and 13 years before society is out of gas.

This means that some time between 2022 and 2030, your gas stations and airports will be closed, and the global economy will be on its way to a complete collapse.

I’ve been following this issue for years and I think his prediction is in the ballpark.

I should point out that this oil centric perspective does not consider the current debt/growth instabilities of the economy. People studying that piece predict an economic collapse sooner than 2022. Nor a climate change centric view which suggests we have at best until the end of this century.

Let that sink in for a moment and then you might begin to understand why I am so fascinated by our inherited denial of reality. This information is available for anyone that cares to look, including the news media. No one looks.

Arnoux concludes the interview by pitching an alternate energy product idea he is trying to raise funds to develop. No information is disclosed on the technology but I did some searching to get the gist of it. It’s an interesting idea but has 0% chance of heading off the problem his research on oil depletion predicts.

His behavior is consistent with other researchers working on collapse related topics. For example, almost every climate scientist has a favorite scheme they think will save us whether it’s BECCS, or geoengineering, or nuclear energy. Most people would be unable to function in these roles unless they had some hope for the future. That’s our inherited optimism bias, the inverse twin of denial, at work.

Here is an audio interview with the author.

Here is the paper behind the interview:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Hat tip to Alice Friedemann.

By Alex Smith: Radio Ecoshock interview with Ajit Varki

ajit-varki

I am a fan of Ajit Varki and his revolutionary theory that explains the singular emergence of a species with an extended theory of mind, the uniqueness of humans, as well as human optimism bias and denial of reality.

I consider Varki’s theory to be of similar importance to Darwin’s theory.

Radio Ecoshock is the best (and maybe only) weekly podcast that interviews experts on climate change and related issues. I suggested to the host, Alex Smith, that he interview Ajit Varki because I think it is important that we try to awaken our society from its deep state of denial on many important issues.

I am very pleased to report that Alex Smith interviewed Ajit Varki this week.

Congratulations and thanks to both Alex Smith and Ajit Varki for a fabulous interview that is even better than I had hoped for.

Alex Smith said to me:

“The man’s a genius. In addition to being one of America’s top medical researchers, he’s totally aware of the climate threat.”

As of this writing, I am the only amateur enthusiast of Varki’s theory on the planet that I am aware of. I’m hoping this interview might locate a few companions.

Here is the interview with Ajit Varki and an excellent essay by Alex Smith introducing it:

http://www.ecoshock.org/2017/01/climate-denial-is-human.html

Darwin vs. Varki

Darwin
– explains the creation of life by evolution
– redefines God from creator of life to creator of consciousness

Varki
– builds on Darwin’s theory to explain the singular emergence of an intelligent social species with an extended theory of mind
– explains the uniqueness of humans
– explains the success of humans
– explains human belief in life after death
– explains human optimism bias, and denial of overshoot and other unpleasant realities
– suggests similar or higher intelligence is rare and fleeting in the universe
– redefines God from creator of consciousness to genetic mutation

You know you are in trouble when…

Examples of denial are both profound and unacknowledged.

The short-term solution to our problems is the long-term cause of our problems: economic growth

The long-term solution to our problems is the short-term cause of our problems: reduced consumption

All political parties in all countries and almost all citizens, including the few citizens that understand our predicament, reject our best course of action: austerity

Most citizens have no idea how fortunate they are to be alive at this point in history: A Guide to Being Human in the 21st Century

The only problems society does not acknowledge, or discuss, or act on, are the only problems that matter: species extinction, limits to growth, debt, peak oil, overshoot, resource depletion, climate change, sea level rise, fisheries collapse & ocean acidification, nitrogen imbalance & tree decline 

There is evidence that feedback loops are taking over and causing some problems to go exponential: climate change, CO2 emissions, ice loss, sea level rise, debt

The previous year’s worst case predictions are tending to become this year’s most likely prediction: sea level rise

Actions that improve the long-term worsen the short-term: air pollution masks 0.5C of warming, austerity and debt reduction, renewable energy, population reduction 

The only possible permanent solution is rejected by the belief systems of 90+% of citizens: population reduction

The only possible permanent solution is too slow to avoid the worst problems: population reduction laws

Countries fortunate to have a low birth rate often cancel their good fortune with immigration: Canada

Citizens have wildly different beliefs about our predicament: there is no problem; there is a problem but it’s not caused by humans; I don’t want to think about it; technology will save us; it’s in the hands of God; I’ve already done enough; someone else needs to do something first; my actions won’t make a difference; someone else will consume whatever I give up; it’s too late to do anything

Despite wildly different beliefs about our predicament, there is one thing that almost everyone agrees on: I don’t want to change my behavior

The few people who understand the severity of our problems do not set good examples in their personal lives: leaders, climate scientists, environmentalists

The quality of our leaders is declining because those people with high intelligence, wisdom, and integrity do not want to be in charge of our predicament, and because citizens are feeling the impact of overshoot, do not understand what is going on, and are angry: Trump and Clinton

The leader of the free world denies science and issues daily, jaw-dropping, cringe-inducing tweets: Trump

The one world leader that did understand the problem and spoke out was rejected by the citizens and no longer speaks out: Jimmy Carter

We do not acknowledge that the world’s economic problems began with the peaking of a key non-renewable resource: conventional oil

Low energy prices have led citizens to believe we have a glut of fossil energy when in fact: all types of energy have peaked

Citizens believe the exact opposite of reality: technology creates wealth and energy rather than energy creates wealth and technology

Every country has similar economic problems and not one leader anywhere in the world connects the dots and publicly acknowledges the root cause, even after they leave office: energy extraction cost + debt

We do not discuss or act on economic history research that shows countries always get into serious trouble when they permit an important ratio to exceed a threshold we long passed: debt to GDP

Bankers, the creators of money, do not understand the one thing that creators of money should understand: thermodynamics of wealth

The professionals with the most influence on public policy use models that violate the most trusted laws of physics: economists

The scientific theory that explains the relationship between the economy, energy, and climate is ignored by everyone that should understand it: Tim Garrett

The people who deserve the most respect and admiration get the least: scientists

The people who deserve the least respect and admiration get the most: celebrities

All types of non-fossil energy do not provide a substitute for the only energy we can’t live without: diesel for trucks, trains, ships, tractors, and combines, and mining machines; plus natural gas for fertilizer

People who think the shale revolution will make America prosperous and energy independent ignore one thing: facts

Intelligent people who understand the climate change threat, like James Hansen and Bill Gates, and who want business as usual to continue, know that nuclear energy is the only option: peak uranium

If climate deniers continue to win elections and try to maintain the existing electric grid they’ll find that strategy may not work for long: peak coal

Citizens most vulnerable to a fragile global supply chain with only a few days of inventory experience the strongest illusion of abundance and security: inhabitants of rich cities

Most citizens are not even vaguely aware of the invention that enabled their existence and created about 50% of the nitrogen in their bodies: Haber-Bosch conversion of natural gas to fertilizer

Well meaning environmentalists demand that we stop subsidizing fossil energy companies without understanding the source of all that they cherish in modern civilization: fossil energy

Well meaning environmentalists demand that we stop subsidizing fossil energy companies without realizing that many fossil energy companies are going bankrupt: ExxonMobil

A solution frequently advocated makes things worse by accelerating growth and decreasing system resilience: efficiency

The best solution for removing CO2 from the atmosphere is being harmed by the same activity that creates CO2: planting more trees which are then injured or killed by ground level ozone

All climate science models that do not predict disaster now depend on an unproven technology that we probably can’t afford and other species definitely can’t afford: BECCS (bio-energy with carbon capture and storage)

We have not acted to prevent a predictable and very dangerous side effect of trying to maintain business-as-usual with low interest rates: increasing wealth gap

We still enjoy historically vast surplus wealth that could be deployed to improve our future lives but we are squandering it: military, airports, highways, new cars, high rises, etc.

Earth with its diverse complex life and a highly intelligent species is extraordinarily rare, precious, and worth fighting to protect, yet we dream of other barren homes: colonizing Mars

The tool that could be used to unite citizens in common purpose and useful action is instead being used to create tribes that reinforce preexisting beliefs: internet

Many people are hurting and lashing out in anger because they do not understand the cause of their pain: Brexit, Trump, Syria, Venezuela, etc.

The few sources of information that understand and communicate the truth are under threat: fake news

Few people study or heed the best predictor of the future: history

None of our schools teach skills useful and relevant to our future: growing food and other forms of lower complexity life skills

The thing that enabled the evolution of our high intelligence and its ability to understand and act on problems is the same thing that causes our problems and prevents us from acting on them: denial of reality

The theory that best explains our existence and our self-destructive behavior is ignored by everyone, including those people seeking to understand our problems: Varki and Brower’s denial of reality theory

Readers are encouraged to submit additions to the list.

Debt Up(date): This Will Not End Well

elephant-in-the-room

When debt increases faster than income, as it has for many years in every country of the world, it means we are borrowing money we cannot and will not repay.

This will not end well.

The end game will probably be a civil society destroying fireball of inflation and/or deflation.

Every day that we choose to ignore the elephant in the living room means we increase the pain and harm that will eventually be experienced.

We are climbing a cliff with a crumbling foundation. A wise person would reverse direction and climb down.

From ZeroHedge today…

US Ends 2016 With $19.98 Trillion In Federal Debt; Up $1,054,647,941,626.91

Putting this increase in context, during Barack Obama’s time in office, federal debt has increased by $9,349,949,902,134.72, or 88%, rising from $10,626,877,048,913.08 on Jan. 20, 2009, the day of Obama’s inauguration to $19,976,826,951,047.80 on the last day of 2016.

That equals $78,553.84 for each of the 119,026,000 households in the country as of September.

 

In fiscal year 2016 (which ran from October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016), the government’s total interest bill was $432,649,652,901.12.

This works out to be an average interest rate of 2.204%, according to the Treasury Department’s most recent data from November 2016.

But it wasn’t that long ago that interest rates were MUCH higher.

Back in January 2008, for example, the average interest rate on US government debt was 4.785%.

And even that was considered quite low by historical standards.

Today’s rates are less than half that level. And it’s reasonable to expect rates to increase. In fact, that’s already happening.

In late December, the Treasury Department sold $28 billion worth of 7-year Treasury notes at a yield of 2.24%.

2.24% is still pretty cheap. But it’s nearly double the rate from just six months ago.

Back in July, the 3-month T-bill rate was just 0.02%. Now it’s more than 25 TIMES greater at 0.51%.

This is a significant increase in a short period of time.

If the government’s average interest rate returned to 2007 levels, they would be spending nearly $1 trillion each year just to pay interest.

That’s more than they currently spend on Medicare or the US military.

So as you can see, the US government is not only increasing the debt level at an astonishing rate (with absolutely nothing to show for it), but they’re going to have to start paying a LOT more interest.

Remember that they already borrow money just to pay interest on the money they’ve already borrowed.

So higher interest rates mean that they’ll have to borrow even more money to pay interest, which will cause the debt to go up even higher, requiring them to borrow even more money to pay interest.

It’s a never-ending cycle that only ends one way: default.

The idea of ‘growing their way out’ of debt is a total fantasy.

 

And then they conclude with the obligatory denial…

The sky is not falling.

In fact, despite this debt madness, we’re living in a world full of incredible business, investment, technological, and lifestyle opportunities.

It’s truly an incredible time to be alive.

 

Enjoy it while it lasts because it won’t.

By Jim Quinn: A Biased 2017 Forecast

A lot of people discuss inherited denial without knowing that’s what they’re talking about.

I like this piece by Jim Quinn because he elegantly captures the insanity and denial of our debt bubble.

https://www.theburningplatform.com/2016/12/31/a-biased-2017-forecast-part-one/

https://www.theburningplatform.com/2017/01/01/a-biased-2017-forecast-part-two/

It is fascinating to me no one seems all that worried about the systematically dangerous levels of global debt supporting essentially bankrupt governments, banks and consumers. Global debt stood at $142 trillion at the end of 2007, just prior to a worldwide financial meltdown, caused by too much bad debt in the financial system.

To “fix” this problem, central bankers around the globe ramped up their electronic printing presses to hyper-drive and created another $57 trillion of debt by mid-2014. They haven’t taken their foot off the gas since. Today, global debt most certainly exceeds $225 trillion and has surpassed 300% of global GDP. Rogoff and Reinhart made a pretty strong case that when debt to GDP exceeds 90%, disaster will follow.

Global debt issuance reached a record $6.6 trillion in 2016, with corporations accounting for $3.6 trillion – most of which was used to buy back their stock at all-time highs. What could possibly go wrong? The level of normalcy bias amongst financial “experts”, the intelligentsia, and the common man is breathtaking to behold. We are in the midst of the mother of all bubbles, never witnessed in the history of mankind, and we pretend everything is normal, with no consequences for our reckless disregard for honesty, rational thinking, or simple math.

The 2000 dot.com bubble and the 2008 housing bubble were one dimensional. This mother of all bubbles required the global coordination and unprecedented irresponsible intervention of the US Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank (ECB), the Bank of Japan (BOJ), the Bank of England (BOE) and the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to lead the world to the brink of monetary disaster. The highly educated theorists running these central banks have created tens of trillions in unpayable debt while suppressing interest rates to zero or below at the behest of their Deep State masters.

The result is simultaneous bubbles in stocks, bonds and real estate. The pin destined to pop all the bubbles is slightly higher interest rates. The 1% increase in the 10 Year Treasury is already causing havoc in the housing market, the bond market and is hammering pension funds. With the hundreds of trillions in globally interconnected derivatives primed to detonate, 2017 could be an explosive year.

By Chris Martenson: As We Enter 2017, Keep the Big Picture in Mind

An excellent year-end piece by Chris Martenson.

https://www.peakprosperity.com/blog/105291/we-enter-2017-keep-big-picture-mind

 

Truthfully, there’s a lot about which we should all be concerned, and I think that people’s sense of unease heading into 2017 is well-deserved, if sometimes misplaced.

What do I mean by that?  Well, it is misplaced to be worried about symptoms instead of causes.  The fever is worrying but it is not the cause of the illness.

 

Perhaps the most vexing challenge remains how to more effectively communicate the various predicaments and problems we face.

It’s not having more numbers, or more data, that’s for sure.  If numbers and data ‘worked then we’d have taken a very different path sometime back in the 1950’s.

 

As Admiral Hyman Rickover said in a speech to a group of doctors in 1957:

“I think no further elaboration is needed to demonstrate the significance of energy resources for our own future. Our civilization rests upon a technological base which requires enormous quantities of fossil fuels. What assurance do we then have that our energy needs will continue to be supplied by fossil fuels: The answer is – in the long run – none.

The earth is finite. Fossil fuels are not renewable. In this respect our energy base differs from that of all earlier civilizations. They could have maintained their energy supply by careful cultivation. We cannot.

Fuel that has been burned is gone forever. Fuel is even more evanescent than metals. Metals, too, are non-renewable resources threatened with ultimate extinction, but something can be salvaged from scrap. Fuel leaves no scrap and there is nothing man can do to rebuild exhausted fossil fuel reserves. They were created by solar energy 500 million years ago and took eons to grow to their present volume.

In the face of the basic fact that fossil fuel reserves are finite, the exact length of time these reserves will last is important in only one respect: the longer they last, the more time do we have, to invent ways of living off renewable or substitute energy sources and to adjust our economy to the vast changes which we can expect from such a shift. Fossil fuels resemble capital in the bank.

A prudent and responsible parent will use his capital sparingly in order to pass on to his children as much as possible of his inheritance. A selfish and irresponsible parent will squander it in riotous living and care not one whit how his offspring will fare.”

(Source)

His logic was as irrefutably sound then as it is today.  Such information was known at the highest levels throughout government and academia.  But there was no, and continues to be no, sustained and well-funded efforts to grapple with the basic dilemma posed by increasing population as dramatically as we have all the while living on, literally eating, fossil fuels to encourage that rapid population growth.

“Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?”  ~ Al Bartlett

 

The predicament we face is really quite profound.  I submit to you that people know this in their guts and the fact that they do goes a long way towards describing the feeling dread many people report they are carrying here at the start of 2017 and cannot seem to shake.

And of course they are.  Not having a plan for how to even feed 7.4 billion people, heading to 9 or 10 billion people, without massive fossil fuel calorie subsidies is a troubling thought.  If it’s not troubling, then more thinking needs to be applied.