Confessions of a Doomer

I need to tell you of a very special talent I have. I have the very unusual and rare ability to find, to ferret out if you will, the blatantly obvious. I mean if it is as plain as the nose on your face, I am going to figure it out. What shocks me is that this ability is so rare. What is happening to our earth and our species is so obvious it is mind blowing.

I could give you thousands of forest disappearing, deserts expanding, rivers drying up, water tables dropping, top soil disappearing, species going extinct, ocean fish disappearing, pollution and plastic waste killing sea birds, and on and on and on. But I will start with one example that exemplifies what is happening to the entire world, the Aral Sea.

What has been happening to the world can be exemplified by this short 3 minute video on the Aral Sea: The Aral Sea story.

Aral Sea 1

The Aral Sea was once the fifth largest inland sea in the world. It supported a huge fishing industry. But that was before they dammed its tributaries to irrigate cotton fields.

Aral Sea 2

Aral Sea 7

By 2000 it was mostly gone. The 1960 shoreline is shown on this photograph.

Aral Sea 10

And today it is almost completely gone.

Aral Sea 13

Of course the fishing fleet is still there.

Lake Chad

Of course almost the exact same story can be told about Lake Chad. This once vast inland body of water once supported tens of thousands with its bountiful fish supply is now not much more than a small mud hole.

What is happening to the Aral Sea and Lake Chad is happening to the entire world. Rivers are drying up. Water tables all over the world are dropping, some by meters per year. Land in India and China, as well as in other Asian nations, irrigated from underground water, that once fed billions, now feed far less and will soon feed none.

Of course the rain forests are disappearing very fast. Some, like the forest of Borneo is being slashed and burned to cultivate palm oil. Some are being cut for lumber. But the biggest culprit is cattle ranching

It is estimated that for each pound of beef produced, 200 square feet of rainforest is destroyed. In the past 20 years Costa Rica has lost the majority of its forests to beef cattle ranching. This is known as slash and burn farming and is believed to account for 50% of rainforest destruction. However, the land cannot be used for long: the soil is of poor quality and, without the forest, quickly becomes very dry. The grass often dies after only a few years and the land becomes a crusty desert. The cattle farmers then have to move on and destroy more rainforest to create new cattle pastures.

And because our appetite for meat is so great, it will not stop until all the rain forests are gone.

Nate 3

10,000 years ago humans and their domestic animals were one tenth of one percent of the land and air vertebrate biomass of the world. Today they are over 97 percent of the land and air vertebrate biomass of the world.

Terrestrial Vertebrate Biomass

Examine the two charts above. It will continue. The biomass of all wild animals will continue to shrink while the biomass of humans and their animals will continue to increase. If you believe it will change simply means you do not understand why it is happening in the first place.

The amount of humans and their animals terrestrial vertebrate biomass is increasing at an alarming rate while that of all wild animals is decreasing at an alarming rate. The dotted line in the chart above, the long term carrying capacity of terrestrial vertebrate biomass, is declining because of our destruction of animal habitat, which means our habitat. 

This brings up a very misunderstood point about all mass extinctions. In all past extinctions, as well as the current ongoing mass extinction, it is the megafauna that have suffered the most. In all past extinctions all the megafauna went extinct.  This current extinction, the sixth great extinction, will be no different. All the megafauna, save one species, will go extinct.

Mice will survive, elephants will not. Rats will survive, orangutans will not. All great apes will be driven to extinction except one, Homo sapiens. Some small monkeys will survive. The larger monkeys and lesser apes will not. Most of them will be killed for food. The rest will die because of loss of habitat. 

Bush Meat

It is called bush meat and it is a very important food source for Sub Sahara Africa’s booming population.

If I saw a way out, a way to save humanity from catastrophe, a way to stop the destruction of our environment, then I would do everything in my power to show it to the world. But it is already way, way too late.

Now I hope you see the reason for my despondence. I hope you understand why I don’t get excited about solar or wind power, or electric vehicles. It simply doesn’t matter. There is no hope. We are already in deep overshoot. Our numbers are already at least six billion above the long term carrying capacity of the earth.

And when it crashes it will get worse… a lot worse. We will eat the songbirds out of the trees.

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491 Responses to Confessions of a Doomer

  1. Ron,

    Excellent post. However, this sort of reasoning is not good at all for free market capitalism and the pursuit of profits.

    Professor MudFlap

  2. Forbin says:

    “What shocks me is that this ability is so rare.”

    hate to say it Ron but I not shocked anymore , and despite attempts by some of us to try and “fight back” the odds are so long …

    Please keep up the good work in you blog , I don’t comment much as I seem to agree with what you post !

    Forbin

  3. Chris Alemany says:

    Sobering.

    I must remain optimistic that we will be able to find a way to avoid the worst of the troubles that we have created for our species… but I admit that it may simply be a coping mechanism. There are so many others who are either totally oblivious or completely hostile to the notion that their actions and expectations are contributing to a potential collapse.

    Cheers,
    Chris from BC

  4. Javier says:

    I agree on this one being the worst problem the planet faces, Ron.

    We have inflicted a very heavy damage on the world. We are doing serious efforts at conservation in the last decades that are bearing some fruit although not enough by far to reverse the trend. And sadly those efforts are tied to economic growth.

    Once the peak resources story develops and the economy collapses, we will find ourselves in severe overshoot and we will descend with fury over whatever is left of the natural world to consume it without restrain in a last ditch effort to survive.

    Recovery will only start after nature deals with us. However recovery can be faster than most people think. Obviously new species will take hundreds of thousands of years to appear, but the environment can recover pretty fast as studies with abandoned areas, as Chernobyl, indicate.

    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Hi Javier,

      If there is not economic collapse, due to energy resources being more plentiful than some assume (more like my assumptions between doomer and mainstream assumptions) and due to the ability of the economic system to adjust to expensive resources by using them more efficiently (including recycling) and by finding substitutes tht are less expensive than the scarce resources (such as fossil fuels), wouldn’t rapid demographic transition at least improve the chances of avoiding catastrophic population collapse (at least for humans). What is the mainstream view of biologists, do most in your field believe that we are doomed?

      • Javier says:

        My specialty is very removed from this so I can only speak for myself or for what I read.

        I do not think we are going to avoid entering industrial civilization terminal decline mainly because of human nature. Humans do not cooperate on a global scale when things get ugly. People belonging to different religious or ethnic groups do not sacrifice to help each other.

        Let’s assume that we are able to do it. That we set up a system to manage and share the dwindling fossil fuel reserves so everybody gets a fair share. That we all make sacrifices to transition as much as possible to other energy sources. That rich people assume that they have to use their means to help the rest of humanity.

        Is then possible to avoid population collapse? Theoretically yes. Food production and distribution requires a relatively small part of our energetic needs, and a lot is wasted in processed foods that add nothing in terms of nutrition. If every country in the world gets serious about it, the transition to a lower population could proceed at enough speed to match our reducing resources to avoid a serious die off.

        The problem then would be the age of the population. The pyramid would get very skewed so a lot of old people and not enough young people. Economies do not perform well under that situation. Not enough workers to sustain society. So very drastic social changes would have to take place.

        In the end there are so many things that can go wrong, so many ways where cooperation won’t work, and people usually react so badly to a worsening of their situation, that I don’t see that we can prevent the hell from breaking loose.

      • Glenn Stehle says:

        If there is not economic collapse…due to energy resources being more plentiful than some assume (more like my assumptions between doomer and mainstream assumptions)…

        Would you agree we’ve already reached peak conventional (read “cheap”) oil? Unconventional oil could indeed be “plentiful,” but at what cost of production? IMO, we’re looking at something north of $120 per barrel, and more likely north of $150 per barrel to make unconventional oil “plentiful.”

        If there is not economic collapse…due to the ability of the economic system to adjust to expensive resources by using them more efficiently (including recycling)…

        This is the biggest wild card.

        For fans of complexity theory, who see the global political economy as being a highly complex system, unpredictablility rules the day here. Both you and Tverberg have staked out opposing positions, either of which could be proved wrong by events.

        If there is not economic collapse…due to…finding substitutes tht are less expensive than the scarce resources (such as fossil fuels)…

        So far this hasn’t happened.

        The current crop of renewables couldn’t compete with $100/bbl oil and $10/mmbtu natural gas (the approximate price in Europe). As soon as the “NOT subsidies” were cut, investment in renewables ground to a halt.

        What price of oil and natural gas could the current crop of renewables compete with, sans “NOT subsidies,” assuming we don’t pump up the cost of oil and natural gas with highly politicized externalized costs and sin taxes?

        $300/bbl oil and $30/mmbtu natural gas?

        $500/bbl oil and $50/mmbtu natural gas?

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Glenn,

          External costs are real. Even if the external costs are ignored, fossil fuels will deplete and become more expensive even if he wishes of free market fundamentalists are fulfilled. In addition, even without subsidies the price of wind and solar will continue to fall, the subsidies simply help to keep fossil fuel prices from spiking and destroying demand to the point where a severe recession results due to energy scarcity. Perhaps that scenario seems more palatable to those that think that subsidies should be reserved for fossil fuels.

        • Nathanael says:

          Solar is getting stupidly cheap. Most people are predicting worldwide grid parity in 2017. Wind already has worldwide grid parity. At utility scale, solar bids are cheaper than coal plant bids. Electric heat pumps are already competitive with natural gas; if natural gas prices doubled it would price itself out of the market.

          Oil is still used for transportation primarily because we use a lot of cars and batteries are still expensive. (Also overhead wires for trains are expensive too.)

    • John says:

      I agree the problem is there are ‘small Chernobyl’s’ (for lack of a better term happening just about every second of every day happening right now. I fear nature will not recover because as mentioned the human race has the means motive and oppertunaty too carry on till there is nothing left I had a theory perhaps all the oil and coal extracted was actually natures attempt at feeding the earths core i.e maybe all the fossil fuels where meant too slowly (over millions of years) end up in the magma underneath our feet so the earths core had some fuel so it would not burn out. If that makes any sense?

  5. Doug Leighton says:

    Hi Ron,

    You’ve ruined my morning anyway, so you could have mentioned that northern polar temperatures have risen rapidly from human greenhouse gas heat forcing (about 0.5 C per decade) which has set the stage for ridges over Russia and Canada causing extraordinary fires. In a sign of how swiftly climate change is reshaping the Arctic, environment studies have found that, during the past few decades, the region’s boreal forests have been burning at an unprecedented rate. The increased burning has meant more stored carbon has been freed from ecosystems, which acts as a feedback, leading to more global warming, and hence more wildfires. Of course, in addition, the soot emitted from the fires can land on snow and ice in the Arctic, hastening melting.

  6. Karen Fremerman says:

    Hi Ron,
    I read you because so few will say the ugly truth. I totally agree and live a double life everyday not saying what I really think at work and to acquaintances.

    Thought you might enjoy a poem my kids wrote for me to go on sign for my garden. 🙂

    Enter all for there is doom,
    Karen’s garden in the gloom.
    Listen here for she will talk,
    but if you falter she may squawk.
    We Fremermans we worship food,
    So come one, come all, no solitude.

  7. dennis coyne says:

    Hi Ron,

    How do we know that the earth was at its maximum carrying capacity in 10,000 BCE? The Earth had just recovered from a glacial maximum about 12,000 years earlier. I am not suggesting we are not currently in overshoot, but wild animals can be sustained with proper policy, at least in some places. Human population can fall very rapidly as total fertility ratios fall.

    By 2300 population could fall to 900 million if total fertility ratios fall to 1.5 births per woman (which has already been achieved in some Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea.)

    See http://www.demographic-research.org/volumes/vol28/39/28-39.pdf

    Figure below is from p 1153 Figure 1 (a).

    • By 2300 population could fall to 900 million if total fertility ratios fall to 1.5 births per woman (which has already been achieved in some Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea.)

      In 300 years? Dennis we have, very likely, less than 50 years, 100 years at the very most. I expect the population to fall well below 900 million by 2300 but not because women voluntarily limit their fertility.

    • Caren Black says:

      We don’t have until 2300. We probably do not have until 2030.

      • Doug Leighton says:

        Exactly.

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Doug,

          So an economic collapse along the lines of Mad Max by 2030 seems realistic to you?

          • Doug Leighton says:

            No idea BUT projections to 2030 can be within the realm of possibility, projections to 2300 are absurd. What happened 285 years ago that has any relationship to life today? In 1730 the Industrial Revolution wasn’t even underway. England was composed of rural villages.

            • GoneFishing says:

              That is so far off, I wish I could respond to your assertions Doug.
              But alas, I am ostracized.

            • Dennis Coyne says:

              Hi Doug,

              The projections simply show what happens to population under the given assumptions. Life expectancy of 90 (on average) and TFR at various levels are the assumptions. (I doubt life expectancy will rise above 90 for the World before 2300, but perhaps you are more optimistic than me.) The reason there are many curves presented is that nobody knows what future TFR will be. We know it went from 5 in 1965 to 2.5 in 2010. My guess is that TFR for the world will fall to at least 1.75 by 2050 and probably to 1.5 or less by 2150. About half of the World population (excluding China) already has an average TFR below 1.5, I expect the higher TFR nations will fall to lower levels as they become more developed and better educated.

              Your basic point is correct, nobody knows what will happen in the future.

      • Steve Harris says:

        Consider this. Life is temporary. Every living thing dies (that we are aware of). Also, the natural order of life is to consume, or be consumed by, other life. There is sadness in this only in the human mind. No where else. Consider that at some point all life on earth will cease to exist. Whether by astroid collusion, the sun reaching the end of it’s life, or something else, it will end. When it does, what will it matter what species have lived and are no more? Who will it matter to? No one. If there is a creator somewhere, then he can create more. If there isn’t, and there is no one for it to matter to, then it doesn’t matter. Just as now it matters not whether or not some particular prehistoric organism lived, eventually the time will come where it will not matter whether humans had ever lived, or not. You see, what is blatantly obvious is that if you are saddened that life is temporary and that nature can be cruel and unfair, the problem is not with nature. It is with your thinking. Human life is short. It is up to you whether yours is spent in happiness or in sadness. Your great-great-great grandchildren will eventually die, if they are born at all. In the end it matters not whether they lived and died, or never did live. In the end it is the same either way. Life is much better spent not worrying about what happens in a future long after you and everyone you know are long gone. For me and mine, we will spend our lives being content with whatever man or nature throws at us. Knowing that in the end none of it matters.

        • Robert McGregor says:

          A great description of “nihilism,” and I am not criticizing you for it.

    • superkaos says:

      We where at maximum carrying capacity then because that was what was limiting our population growth. The only way we increased population was by taking over from other species. Up until we started using fossil fuels, then we began to increase our population by means of the draw down method. But that can only be temporary because fossil fuels are finite. When they are gone we will be back to the carrying capacity before the industrial revolution (even less if you take into account all that we have destroyed because it was no longer necessary) with 10 times the population.

    • Fuser says:

      Dennis,

      I would strongly recommend you read a book that has been recommended on this site several times. Overshoot by William Robert Catton, Jr.

      I know book recommendations fly around all over the place in internet forums -but this will truly change the way you see the world.

      • I have read the book, cover to cover, twice. And parts of it many more times. I have given away several copies of the book to friends.

        It is alarming that several people have not even bothered to read the book. And that include peak oilers for God’s sake. I think it will ultimately prove to be the most important book ever printed in the twentieth century.

    • brian says:

      “wild animals can be sustained with proper policy, at least in some places”.

      All governments with the exception of maybe Bhutan are turned out of office if they do not have “Jobs” as a centrepiece of their election manifesto’s. They do not get re-elected if emloyment dwindles in their time in office. So all is sacrificed on the altar of economic growth. In the best of times, when there is a surplus, they pay lip-service to environmental policy, but in many places, when the economy dips, whole ministries are shelves, and environmental workers are the first to be axed. The environment will ultimately, wtshthf, be considered “an unaffordable luxury”.

      I am surprised at you Dennis, your belief in politicians…a man seeking power is a fragmented man psychologically, he is in a state of becoming “im not this, because im on my way to being that” and such people are going to save the world? These people you say are going to go against their core nature which is expansionary (in a state of becoming/power) and suddly become conservationsists? come on..

      But, but, but, how can we live without the state….every man has to think that through, because the apparatus of the state is killing us.

      • Dennis Coyne says:

        Governments are far from perfect, a reflection of humanity. The idea is to find a balance between economic growth and sustainability, wealthier societies are more willing to protect the environment. Economic growth is what gets us to a wealthier society.

        One possible solution would be to encourage more sustainable behavior by all countries.

        Wealthier countries could impose tariffs on goods produced in an environmentally irresponsible way. Fines or even jail time could be imposed on those purchasing goods such as ivory that is not certified as being from an elephant that died of old age (as opposed to being killed for ivory harvest).

        There are good environmental policies which can be adopted, and in some places they have been (though there is always room for improvement).

        Environmental international trade policy could push bad actors to improve.

        Education is a key to improving population prospects as well as environmental impacts.

  8. Opritov Alexandr says:

    In the Soviet Union was a project of transferring water from the basin of the Ob River to the Aral sea. Unfortunately today it is not very likely.
    I hope humanity will find a way to limit their numbers artificially (but not the war of course).

    • AlexS says:

      “In the Soviet Union was a project of transferring water from the basin of the Ob River to the Aral sea. Unfortunately today it is not very likely.”

      Fortunately, it is now absolutely unlikely.
      That would destroy the nature of Siberia and the whole Arctic region

      • Opritov Alexandr says:

        “That would destroy the nature of Siberia and the whole Arctic region”
        ???
        There’s nothing to destroy,
        Nature poor
        -no roads
        -No business forests
        -Lack sedentary population
        -One swamps and stunted vegetation
        -not possible agriculture
        Sorry, Google translation ….

        • AlexS says:

          Where are you from, Alexandr?

        • Doug Leighton says:

          Hi Opritov,

          Actually there is a lot of stuff to burn in Arctic regions including spruce forest and scrub bush and in the worst circumstance fire can, and does, become established in peat (bogs) where it pretty well has to die a natural death since smoldering fires are essentially impossible to extinguish. But you’re right, the Arctic contains vast quantities of basically useless ground unless you happen to be a mosquito or a black-fly.

          Doug

    • oldfarmermac says:

      We have the way, we have multiple ways. All of them are dirt cheap, considering the cost of raising children, and the consequences of having too many children. Condoms, implants, vasectomies, pills, IUD’s.

      The problem basically boils down to a combination of ignorance, vested interests, and a lack of foresight on the part of the man and woman on the street.

      If somebody were to invent a birth control pill that works for a whole year, one dose, it could be distributed free of charge, with any young woman willing to take one given an appropriate inexpensive gift, such as a cheap basic laptop including a little pv panel to charge it, and basic educational programming starting with instruction in reading and basic arithmetic…………

      Such a pill might fetch a good price in a lot of places on the black market, no gift necessary.

      • Dennis Coyne says:

        Hi Old Farmer Mac,

        Or we could educate women so they can contribute more to society than more children.

        Make higher education above high school free at public universities. It would reduce the total fertility ratio everywhere it was instituted, or just make it free for women.

        • jjhman says:

          Apparently you guys don’t know any devout catholics, mormons or muslums.

          • Or very many Holy Rollers either.

          • R Walter says:

            They are all on am radio stations these days.

            God is so special, He has gained control of the FCC.

            Don’t forget the Quakers.

            If you don’t believe in God, there will be hell to pay!

            I’ll see them all in hell! So there!

            Nova Scotia has had record lobster catches the past few years and plane loads are being flown to China.

            Lobsters like colder Atlantic waters, so Canada benefits.

            Google it.

  9. Gail Zawacki says:

    “All the megafauna, save one species, will go extinct.” – what makes you think humans will be spared?

    “All species expand as much as resources allow and
    predators, parasites, and physical conditions permit.
    When a species is introduced into a new habitat with
    abundant resources that accumulated before its arrival,
    the population expands rapidly until all the resources
    are used up.”

    ~ David Price, Energy and Human Evolution

    • Homo sapiens occupy every habitual niche on earth. Their population is greater than any other species of megafauna on earth. The odds against every human being in every remote niche in the world, dying 0ff completely is extremely remote.

      Species go extinct for a reason. All species that have ever gone extinct, went extinct for a reason. None of those reasons can be applied to the human population. However if you have a reason, I would be glad to hear it.

      • Gail Zawacki says:

        There is a reason. Climate scientists often compare this epoch to the PETM extinction, when the asteroid hit, the climate changed, and the dinosaurs died off.

        Actually, a better analog is the Permian – the Great Dying. Over 90% of all species died off, and it was the only one of the past 5 extinction events when a significant percentage of plants and insects also went extinct.

        The reason is that venting of volcanic traps released copious amounts of sulphur dioxides and the acid rain killed forests, which burned, releasing even more noxious gases (NOx) which formed ozone, which is highly toxic to vegetation. That is what we are, essentially, doing now with cars, trucks, ships, planes, power plants, agricultural burns, and other industrial processes.

        Consequently, forests are in decline all over the world. This signals the collapse of the entire terrestrial ecosystem as surely as the corals and phytoplankton dying in the oceans is heralding the collapse of life in the sea. These are life forms that are the foundation of so many other species dependent upon them.

        Including us.

        • Including us, just not all of us. This time there is no toxic volcanic fumes. A warm earth? Sure but the earth has been a lot warmer in the past.

          Comparing the current exhaust from cars and trucks with the emissions of the Siberian Traps is truly absurd. Those emissions, from Siberia, continued for millions of years. Cars and trucks will not last quite that long.

          No one yet has given any reason why every human, in every niche throughout the world, should all go extinct. To say emissions from cars and trucks will be the culprit is more than a little silly.

          • T A McNeil says:

            Ron

            Are you forgetting that we still have atomic weapons that could be launched by either Russia dead-hand system or more likely, an insane US President. In the 70s there were rumbling in Washington that Nixon was becoming increasingly unstable. There was supposedly talk of taking the button away. The General who raised the issue generally at the Pentagon was allowed to take early retirement. In essence, we are always a just a few heartbeats away from, even an accidental , nuclear incident.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Hand_(nuclear_war)

            http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/06/books/review/Rhodes-t.html?_r=0

            Should a nuclear event occur, for whatever reasons, I all likelihood the whole planet could become an absolute wasteland – making any form of life impossible.

          • Entropy101 says:

            True, the Siberian traps continued for millions of years, but in the end they were just the trigger for a large scale methane clathrate release. And current emissions are higher than the Siberian Traps ever were. When the shit hits the fan, we have all these very nice nuclear power stations without any maintenance that will go sooner or later in some sort of blazing glory. Sufficient toxic stuff to burn.

          • TechGuy says:

            Ron wrote:
            “No one yet has given any reason why every human, in every niche throughout the world, should all go extinct. ”

            A nuclear, biological war could probably do it. A nuclear war would kill about 50% of the human population in a couple of weeks and another 40% in a few months as food stocks are consumed or destroyed. Biological weapons could wipe out any remaining population. It very probable that all of the major nuclear powers have developed advanced biological weapons. Many are designed to spread in air.

            Loss of the 450+ nuclear reactions probably would render 60% to 80% of the world uninhabitable. Rivers, lakes, and Oceans would be horribly polluted for decades, if not centuries as contaminants from dead, burned out cities, industrial sites, leach toxins.

            The death of our civilization would likely be thousands more times damaging to the environment as humans use processes to prevent pollution (proper disposal of waste, sewage systems, retaining systems) from contaminating everything. Once civilization collapses all these processes and systems will begin to fail.

            Pockets of survivalist will likely either refuse to have children and be forced to remain in small pockets of areas do to contamination and will be prone to inbreeding. Its believed the Neanderthals were forced to exist in isolated pockets (forced by modern humans) that eventually lead them to extinction. Small groups trapped in isolated pockets will be forced to inbreed, but inbreeding will eventual lead to infertility, birth defects and increased vulnerability to diseases.

            Small nomadic groups would likely wander into regions that are contaminated, future generations will not fully understand the risks as education and information is lost, its likely an nomadic tribes would be wiped out as the consume contaminated water or foods. Nomads would have no tools or tech to be able to test water or food for contamination.

            Over longer periods even pocket regions that avoided contamination, may eventually become too polluted as weather carries in pollution from devastated regions hundreds to thousands of miles away.

          • Preston says:

            Ron, it’s not just tailpipes. It’s also coal, and not just for electricity but also forging steel and other uses. Problem is if we push it past a tipping point humans are unlikely to survive. How long do you think we could hold up in a cave somewhere if the air becomes toxic for us or our food crops? It could be millions of years before the planet is habitable again.

        • Nathanael says:

          There are probably better than 50% odds that we’re inducing a repeat of the P-Tr extinction (Great Dying). The famines will lead to mass deaths. Possibly not total human extinction though.

          If we can prevent the ocean food chain from collapsing we’ll be in much better shape, but that requires ENDING fossil fuel use ASAP so we can start removing carbon from the air.

    • Tom Fugate says:

      Ron expects humans to survive but all other large animals except domestic livestock to go extinct. In other words he expects the Eremozoic Era — The Age of Loneliness.

      The human hammer having fallen, the sixth mass extinction has begun. This spasm of permanent Eremozoic Era — The Age of Lonelinessloss is expected, if it is not abated, to reach the end-of-Mesozoic level by the end of the century. We will then enter what poets and scientists alike may choose to call the … The first five spasms took ten million years on average to repair by natural evolution. A new ten-million-year slump is unacceptable. — E.O.Wilson

  10. The Wet One says:

    So.

    If the foregoing is correct (and no reason to think it isn’t so far as I’m aware), the question then is what will arise from the ashes?

    It’s a sad mess, but one that won’t last forever. Remember, this planet and the life upon it have survived worse and carried on.

    It’s a small comfort, but a real one all the same. In the meantime, we get to watch our world undergo wrenching changes. Let us hope that it doesn’t go too hard for us who live through it (me, I’ve been fairly comfortable through my 40 years of life, during which about 1/2 of almost all other life forms lost 1/2 of their numbers). Sooner or later, the soft and easy times will come to an end. I hope I’m dead before then.

    Ah well. That’s what they call “living in interesting times.” It’s just that most of us humans are completely unaware of how interesting the times are. Furthermore, most of us humans want to keep it that way. Being aware is hard, unpleasant, uncomfortable and painful. Who wants that? I do, but I’m a bit nuts. Most people aren’t my brand of crazy.

  11. The Baker Hughes Rig Count is out. US rig count down 34. Oil rigs down 20, gas rigs down 14. Canada rigs recovering, up 83 to 166 but still down 200 from this week last year.

    Texas rigs down 13, Eagle Ford down 5, Permian down 8, Williston down 4.

     photo Baker Hughes_zpsbdr7chns.gif

    • Toolpush says:

      I see Fayetteville, has hit the golden number, of zero rigs drilling. They were at around half a dozen up to a few weeks ago. It maybe interesting to watch there production of gas, and see how it declines. They have been in a long slow decline for a couple of years, we will soon see how much the new wells were maintaining production, or are the wells surviving on a long fat tail?

  12. BC says:

    But, Ron, we have a boom in “high-value-added innovations”, such as Facebook, Twitter, Vines, Snapchat, Instagram, Viddy, Mobli, Pinterest, Square, Pay, and Amazon drones!!! So much creativity and wealth creation!!!

    We don’t need no steenkin’ value-added manufacturing and boring goods-producing employment, which means that our economy will become even less energy intensive in the years ahead! That’s great news!!!

    And we are in a once-in-history process of replacing ecologically destructive, unsustainable fossil fuel energy with sustainable renewables to power our emerging solar- and wind-powered, EV-based, zero-marginal-cost, gig economy of abundance instead of scarcity.

    How can anyone be a gloom-and-doomer given the foregoing developments?!?!?!

    The future is bright and the fun has only begun!!!

    • Ves says:

      Opening a Twitter account is equivalent of letting cloud of mosquitoes in your living room 🙂

    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Hi BC,

      For the World, there is higher GDP per unit of energy consumed over time . Also there is higher GDP per capita over time.

      A more equal distribution of income would be welcome, improved tax policy would help. Perhaps another Great Depression might enable changes in tax policy (it worked in the US in the first Great Depression, though I am not familiar with tax policy in other nations).

  13. todd cory says:

    more and more i focus on the gift of every day of this still very good life… because where this is headed is not pretty… and as no one is interested or willing to change their “non-negotiable” lifestyles, this will not end well… but today is a good day to be alive on this jewel of a planet.

    • jjhman says:

      Since the first “oil crisis” in 1973 I’ve been telling my friends and associates that, for non-royal working class people, we have had the best lives ever lived, or ever to be lived by humans. Most of my associates have been either native born or naturalized American residents of California, born between the middle 1930s and the 1960s. No one in the entire history of the world has garnered such a rich life with so little effort. I can see in the lives of my children that their odds of having it so easy for so long is rapidly diminishing. Probably forever.

  14. ezrydermike says:

    “If I saw a way out, a way to save humanity from catastrophe, a way to stop the destruction of our environment, then I would do everything in my power to show it to the world. But it is already way, way too late.”

    There may not be a way out. The oncoming catastrophe may be inevitable. I wholeheartedly agree that even a cursory look at things reveals the overwhelming scope of things and quickly leads to despair.

    However, for what it is worth, you are not alone. There are many people who see this and are trying to do something. I recently met some very cool kids at a concert that didn’t go in to the show, but were part of an effort to manage the event trash, while spreading information on sustainability and footprint and ecological impacts. Look to the kids.

    Doom may be realistic, but it is also toxic to one’s soul. It might not matter, but let’s continue trying and supporting others who are trying. I think you and your blog actually do this in a significant way by raising issues and providing a platform for discussions. Maybe we can reach a critical mass of enough people that we can turn things. Maybe there is still a chance to save some things.

    ” While the Gila may not be a large river, the fight to preserve the wildness of the Gila has intense symbolic, historical, cultural and contemporary meaning. It raises a socio-ecological question of far wider significance: How should we approach and treat the natural world and see our relationship within it? When deciding on such a giant infrastructural project, with whom should the final decision rest?”

    http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34331-the-battle-to-save-new-mexico-s-last-wild-river

    • TechGuy says:

      “Doom may be realistic, but it is also toxic to one’s soul. It might not matter, but let’s continue trying and supporting others who are trying. I think you and your blog actually do this in a significant way by raising issues and providing a platform for discussions. Maybe we can reach a critical mass of enough people that we can turn things. Maybe there is still a chance to save some things.”

      Ignorance is Bliss? Although this is a path chosen by 99.999% of humans. No chance of reaching critical mass to turn things around.

      Week after week the work draws closer to another global war. Just this week KSA bombed Iran’s embassy in Yemen in retaliation of the attack on KSA embassy in Iran. China has completed one of its Military base islands and is preparing to start shipping military aircraft to enforce its “declared” air space. China’s economy is collapsing, and is switching from industrial Keynesianism to Military Keynesianism to prop itself up. Russia is doubled down on its military spending, with new nuclear ICBMS, cruise missiles and built up of its Nuclear Sub fleet.

      The EU is full blown recession and more PIIGS face the Greece’s Fate. EU is planning bank bail ins this year, which is sure to cause rioting. The US has also enacted Bail ins too. Puerto Rico is about to default with Illinois ready to follow has it already racked up 8.5 Billion in unpaid bills and is expected to increase to 13.5 billion by the end of 2016. The US Fed is expected to return to QE and introduce negative interest before the end of 2016 (insider source). Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela all will likely default in 2016.

      Bottom line, unhappy people turn to extremes, Some nations will be plunged into civil war, and other gov’t will move to police, miltary, nationalism to retain control.

    • Javier says:

      I wholeheartedly agree that even a cursory look at things reveals the overwhelming scope of things and quickly leads to despair.

      It doesn’t have to lead to despair. I recommend Stoicism, which is the way Greeks and Romans coped with their own decline.

      In the words of Seneca:

      “Let Nature deal with matter, which is her own, as she pleases; let us be cheerful and brave in the face of everything, reflecting that it is nothing of our own that perishes.” (De Provid. v.8)

      It has to be explained that Stoics believe that nothing external to the individual is secure, and thus the truly important thing is virtue, based on ethics and moral. Virtue can not be taken from an individual whatever the circumstances, and helps him deal with adversity. That is what Seneca means with “nothing of our own that perishes”.

      Stoicism is the appropriate philosophy for what awaits us. It brings out the best of us and it eases the anguish. The illusion of control is our worst enemy. Matters are completely out of our control and Nature will deal with them as she pleases.

      • Dennis Coyne says:

        Hi Javier,

        So the head in the sand approach is best? Human action has an impact and the choices made make a difference. There can certainly be unintended negative consequences to human actions, such as encouraging biofuel use which can result in the destruction of rainforests to plant palm oil and actually increase net carbon emissions ( which are not important in your view) though I imagine the destruction of rainforests to create a monoculture would be problematic in your view.

        Despite your low opinion of humans in general, not all humans are inherently evil, many choose to do much to help others and improve the human condition, perhaps not enough.

        Society will find a way to adjust to no growth (or very slow growth) in income per capita.

        • Javier says:

          Dennis,

          You got it wrong. Stoicism has nothing to do with a head in the sand approach. And I don’t see the point in me teaching you philosophy. But to anybody feeling despair and anguish about the world problems, there is a reason why Stoicism was the most popular philosophical school in Late Greece and Roman periods.

          Choices make a difference in the short term. In the long term, thermodynamics, biology and orbital changes always impose themselves. Biofuels expansion has so many negatives as to be non-viable in a significant scale.

          I do not have a low opinion on humans, I have what I consider a realistic opinion. Humans are capable of the best. In Nature it is very difficult to find examples where animals help other animals from the same species but a different group, as they are rightly seen as competitors. Humans can help people they don’t even know from the other side of the world. That intraspecific empathy is distinctive. But humans are also capable of the worst. We know from Germany, former Yugoslavia or Rwanda (and many other places) that when a country descends into hell many normal citizens turn into mass killers of men, women and children.

          If/when things get really difficult, the bad side of humans will prevent anything that requires wide range cooperation from being done. Being human nature this works on statistical terms as a mathematical equation. There is nothing that can be done about it. Man will turn against man. Nice people are the first to die together with the weak, as they cannot survive when survival depends on taking from others. This happens even in the case an authoritarian government can keep control of the situation and attempt distribution, as was the case with North Korea after the fall of the Soviet Union.

          • Dennis Coyne says:

            Definitely there is a dichotomy between competition and cooperation.

            When faced with challenges humans have found ways to cooperate as in the case of World War 2. Clearly humans cannot change the laws of nature, but they can understand them and plan for physical changes such as developing alternatives to fossil fuels. As prices of fossil fuels rise this is likely to be done.

  15. Bill Masciarelli says:

    Hi Chris A.

    You write: “There are so many others who are either totally oblivious or completely hostile to the notion that their actions and expectations are contributing to a potential collapse.”

    Isn’t the point that it doesn’t matter one bit what one’s attitude is? Whether I’m the one who’s aware and guilt ridden or am your “hostile”, oblivious to the world around me, we both drive cars, eat, defecate and (probably) procreate. Is my impact on the world system any less because I’m conscious (and feeling guilty)?

    I had no children because, “Zero Population Growth” came my way and made all too much sense. Did the book or my decision make any difference to the planet?

    Must admit I’m stunned each time the grandchild of a friend comes to joyfully say, “Isn’t it wonderful! We’re pregnant!” Planet-wide issues aside, I wonder. “What can they be thinking?” Can’t they look around and see what’s happening? What do they imagine life will be like for their new baby in sixty years?

    Politeness keeps me from exclaiming, “Are you out of your MIND?!”

    One shrugs and adds another creature to the list of those needing compassion.

    • ezrydermike says:

      What do you feel guilty about?

    • Javier says:

      We all descend from people that decided to reproduce under extreme difficult conditions, against all odds, and got very lucky.

      • Arceus says:

        They “decided” to reproduce in the same way they “decided” to drink or eat is my guess.

        • They “decided” to reproduce in the same way they “decided” to drink or eat is my guess.

          Exactly! Goddammit, it is really refreshing to find someone who truly understands what is really going on.

          • Dennis Coyne says:

            Hi Ron,

            Do you not see that birth control has changed things?

            I am from a family of 6 children, the number of grandchildren would be expected to be 12 (if their were two births per child), the number of grandchildren my paents have is 4 (1/3 the expected number with a total fertility ratio[TFR] of 2 or 0.67).

            For my wife’s family there were 5 children and her parents also have 4 grandchildren where the expected number would be 10 with a TFR of 2 (so for her family the average TFR was 0.8).

            This is obviously a small sample of anecdotal evidence, but the effect of education and birth control will make a difference. In about 45 years the World total fertility ratio fell by half (1965 to 2010), if that continued to 2055 the TFR would be under 1.3. It won’t reach that level, but might get to 1.7 and continue to fall to 1.3 by 2100.

            • Arceus says:

              Dennis, birth control has had an effect but a relatively minor one largely in affluent westernized countries. When you look at the history of species, the birth control era is just a blink in time. There is no evidence that this will continue and have widespread changes on the worldwide population. In the event of societal collapse, the species will revert to the historical norm with the dominant male.

              Social engineering simply cannot change biology. There is an interesting documentary where a Norwegian journalist questions gender equality thinking, and some good comedy (unintended) ensues as he interviews experts in a variety of related fields. Here is a link:

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVaTc15plVs

              There may currently be a brief window where social engineering could possibly change biology for a very long, long time, but that window is closing. Elites of the world would have to find a way to chemically eliminate testosterone from 98% or more of the male human species so not sure if that is possible.

              • Nathanael says:

                Birth control, once invented, is permanent. It’s a really major social change. The tech does not go back in the box. “Dominant males” can’t prevent women from figuring out birth control and using it.

        • Javier says:

          Not exactly. Biology and sociology go hand in hand to explain that reproductive strategies change abruptly during crisis periods to produce a marked decrease in fertility. In essence during crisis periods women and couples use a variety of strategies to have less children. This is supported by ample evidence.

          Social Upheaval and Fertility Decline
          Journal of Family History 2004 vol. 29 no. 4 382-406
          John C. Caldwell

          “This article examines thirteen social crises for which there are adequate demographic data ranging from the seventeenth-century English Civil War to the fall of communism in Eastern Europe in the late twentieth century. All show marked falls in fertility arising from deferred female marriage, declining marital fertility, or both. The evidence is … stronger that there was a temporary adjustment to a new period of uncertainty about the future and a continuing adjustment to new socioeconomic and legislative conditions.”
          Link to pdf.

          Fertility decline; no mystery
          ESEP 2002 1-11
          Virginia D. Abernethy

          “The economic opportunity hypothesis states that perceived shrinkage of opportunity discourages women or couples from embarking on marriage or reproduction. On the contrary, the sense that opportunity is expanding encourages couples to raise their family-size target. The hypothesis assumes that humans are genetically programmed to maximize successful reproduction by having more offspring when environmental/economic conditions appear favorable, but exercise restraint — waiting or limiting the total number of offspring — if the latter strategy promises greater longrun success. “

          Fertility trends, excess mortality, and the Great Irish Famine
          Demography, 1986 23 (4): 543-562
          O Grada, Cormac; Boyle, Phelim P.

          “Our calculations confirm that 1 million Irish people perished as a result of this disaster. The famine produced a significant drop in the fertility rate, and we estimate that more than 300,000 births did not take place as a result of the Famine.”

          When it comes to reproduction people have always had a choice and exercised it. Biology presents examples of animals that control their reproduction far below their capability, like wolves and meerkats, to maximize their chances of success.

          • oldfarmermac says:

            Hi Javier,

            I agree that the perceived economic conditions have a great deal to do with the decision of a woman or couple to have children, the evidence is ample as you point out.

            Unfortunately this effect is not large enough to solve our current day population problems, and it is temporary by its very nature.

            After a few years pass, constrained opportunity becomes the ” new normal”. A woman in her twenties or thirties who has experienced prosperity might choose to avoid a pregnancy in the event of economic depression, but if times STAY tough, by the time her fifteen year old sister is it her early twenties , tough times are HER NORMAL.

            • Javier says:

              Then we agree, Ron.

              The experience with the Soviet Union collapse is that the population drop was due to both a reduction in fertility and an increase in mortality, with the reduction in fertility being the biggest driver.

              My expectations are that UN population trends towards 2050 are too optimistic. I believe that the impact of the peak oil-derived crisis over the next 15 years is going to cause a significant drop in fertility, that together with increased mortality is going to advance peak population more towards 2030 which should put maximum world population at about 8.5 billion. From then on it will be downwards for a very long time with the four horsemen taking their toll, with disease being the leader by far, followed by famine and reduced fertility. It is just amazing how many people fall pray to disease when conditions are awful.

              • oldfarmermac says:

                Hi Javier,
                “My expectations are that UN population trends towards 2050 are too optimistic”

                Sometimes you express yourself in such a fashion that I strongly suspect English is not your first language.

                Apparently what you mean to say is that the population trend numbers predicted are too high, which means from the point of view of a person who wants to see a lower population, they are TOO PESSIMISTIC.

                But I think you are right, and that fertility rates will fall, and mortality will increase over the next few decades.

                Even though I expect economic conditions to get tougher,I still believe overall literacy levels will increase for the easily foreseeable future, and that access to electronic communications, meaning mostly radio and television but also internet, will continue to grow far faster than population.

                It is well established that literacy and exposure to television etc contribute substantially to lowering birth rates.

                So I am somewhat optimistic that even the UN low growth rate projections are a little on the high side.

                • Javier says:

                  Yes sorry, oldfarmermac,

                  I mistakenly addressed you as Ron above.

                  I learned English as an adult, so yes, I do my best. Sorry. Over informal venues like internet fora I make lots of mistakes and I have to thank the auto corrector for not making a lot more.

                  I would be very happy to see a natural reduction of population due to reduced fertility even though the economic consequences necessarily have to be very bad. But it is the population reduction that brings about huge human suffering through infant mortality, famine, disease and violence what keeps me very worried. I hope I am wrong, because I don’t see a way of avoiding it in a few decades. The global refugee crisis that keeps growing is just an appetizer.

                • Rock Man says:

                  Mac – Howdy from the Rockman. I don’t know where to jump in so I’ll inappropriately do it here. I know how to navigate around PO.com but being a digital dinosaur I’m going to have to stumble around here until I figure out what the heck I’m doing. I’ve run thin of folks to irritate at PO.com so I’m looking for a new fertile field here. lol. Once I figure out how to do I want to hit a topic…one y’all may have already beaten to death: the utter bullsh*t that there has ever been an effective ban on exporting US oil production. I’m heading back from a well this afternoon and once home I’ll start learning what to do here.

                  • Toolpush says:

                    Rockman,

                    Good to see you here. You may have noticed I also tried very quickly of some of the commentators over there as well.

                  • Rockman, glad to have you aboard. It is very easy to start an original comment. Just go to the very bottom of the page where it says: “LEAVE A REPLY” and start typing in that box.

                    It’s as easy as that. We are looking forward to your comments.

                  • Synapsid says:

                    Rock Man,

                    Howdy, finally. I’d about given up hope.

                    This particular ronpost is a little out of the usual run but it’ll give you an idea of the scope of the hoo-haw that goes on here. It’s a great site and Ron is much to be thanked.

                    I left a PM for alaska geo, over at PO.com, just to see if he could be encouraged to take a look-in here.

                • Arceus says:

                  “My expectations are that UN population trends towards 2050 are too optimistic”

                  I think Javier’s use of the word optimistic here was more clear than if he had used pessimistic and so the correct word choice.

                  If there is an oil glut (as now) and the EIA predicts future production will increase by 5 million boe per day despite the glut, that prediction of future production would be described as “optimistic” even though the consequences for some might be negative. To describe an increase in oil production as pessimistic would be the more confusing word choice.

              • Nathanael says:

                Famine will lead over disease. There’s no particular reason to think that disease will get worse (we understand epidemiology and can control it), but we have very solid reasons for thinking that global warming will cause unstoppable famines.

                I mean, if someone who is starving gets an opportunistic disease and dies, you *could* call that a death by disease, but really it’s due to famine.

            • AlexS says:

              Birth rate and mortality (per 1,000 population) in Russia
              Source: Russia’s State Statistical Committee

          • Arceus says:

            Javier wrote “Biology and sociology go hand in hand to explain that reproductive strategies change abruptly during crisis periods… during crisis periods women and couples use a variety of strategies to have less children. This is supported by ample evidence.”

            Biology has the upper hand here, Javier. On an individual level, people may feel they are “making decisions” but it was really macro level changes and a biological imperative that produced the result. Throughout history with few exceptions, humans and animals have exhibited the same behavior you call “decision making.” When food is ample, populations increase (this is a very simplified statement with some short-term exceptions, but this has remained true for far longer than the outlier examples of it not occurring).

            Our bodies are designed to reproduce – it is the primary drive of all species and it’s the overriding function. It’s a biological imperative. If you increase the food and water to a population of rats, the rat population will increase. The same can be said of the human population in Africa.

            There are childless couples, people with low sex drive, homosexuals, that never reproduce but given that their dna will end with them these outliers are inconsequential from an evolutionary perspective.

            Anyway, consider that most kids in the U.S. are conceived out of wedlock (this would seem to indicate it was not a pre-planned decision by both parties.) Moreover, even with married couples, you would be hard-pressed to claim that more than a small percentage of children that were planned by both parents – alcohol, infidelity, contraceptive failure and many other factors all play significant roles.

            The primary drive is to have sex, babies are simply the result of this and not typically planned for (there are some exceptions). Even the planning, or decision making, is more often than not biological in nature. For example, imagine a place where fertile land is available. A man decides to become a farmer and farm that land. As an individual, he feels that he has made a decision. But from a macro perspective, fertile land will not go unfarmed. If this man did not farm it another human would, so his “decision” was inconsequential. At any rate, he farms the land which provides food which will lead to a wife which leads to sex which leads to children. He may feel that all this was his decision, but this same story has repeated endlessly throughout history as it is a biological imperative.

            • Javier says:

              I agree with everything you say Arceus, but there’s more to the story. When the going gets rough a lot of women on the micro level get second thoughts about letting themselves get pregnant, and on the macro level you get the graph that AlexS kindly has posted here.

              • Arceus says:

                Yes, as a biologist, I thought you would be in agreement.

                I do think, however, that the equation is fairly simple (with some exceptions). Just as the rats will increase their population when additional food energy inputs, humans will similarly have more sex when more wealth is created. This is not a conscious decision in my opinion, but one that occurs from a deeper biological origin.

                In 1926 Wharton economist George Taylor noted the correlation between skirt length and the stock market. Women wore short skirts (an indicator of sexual availability) when times were good and longer skirts when they were not. In good times, there are more wealthy men and shorter skirts attract them. Wealth, of course, is an analog for food surplus given to the rats.

                • Wake says:

                  You know I have read that anecdote a dozen times and never connected it to reproduction, I just figured either another dumb meaningless correlation without causation or general exuberance

                  Thanks

                  • Arceus says:

                    George Taylor noticed the correlation, but was off on the causation in my opinion. He theorized that the longer dresses (modest clothing) in poor economic times was because women could not afford proper stockings. In my opinion, his mistake was to attribute causation to simple economics instead of the biological roots of behavior and so was likely guilty of attributing something specific to his era rather than in more sweeping terms.

                • Javier says:

                  humans will similarly have more sex when more wealth is created.

                  Do you think then that more wealth means more sex? That should be easy to demonstrate just by looking if people from countries that are not only wealthy, but have low inequality, have significantly more sex.

                  I am afraid the answer is going to be no.

                  According to this article the 10 most sexually active countries in the world are:
                  1. Greece
                  2. Brazil
                  3. Russia
                  4. Poland
                  5. India
                  6. Mexico
                  6. Switzerland
                  8. China
                  8. New Zealand
                  10. Italy

                  I am a little suspicious of the methodology (polls), but this does not show any indication that wealth and sex are related.

                  • Dennis Coyne says:

                    Generally total fertility ratios are lower in wealthier countries. So before birth control, wealthier countries might have has higher TFR, but it is not the case since 1965 or so.

                  • Arceus says:

                    Javier, it’s not a good idea to compare different countries and cultures as that is they may have very different marriage/reproduction customs and may also be in a very different position in the economic cycle.

                    I was not able to find the study I read not long ago, but here are a few things…

                    Women invest in beauty in order to marry higher human capital men Hammermesh and Biddle 1994. Women decide to marry with an expectation to enjoy some flow of “real” income which is greater than that which they currently have. When real incomes are rising, this is an inducement to marry.

                    The potential gain to marriage is positively correlated to the sex-specific relative wage. Note, this can vary by country and culture but for this study was confirmed for persons age 25 and older but not for the young. Suppose that the benefits to marriage as perceived by teenagers differ from those of adults.

                    A rise in the relative economic status of young persons, such as that occurring in the 1930s and 1950s, induces earlier marriage and childbearing, thereby raising fertility. Conversely, a decline in relative economic status, as took place during the late 1950s and 1960s, encourages deferment of marriage and childbearing, lowering fertility. In a maturing economy, this correlation can be muted due to rapidly slowing growth rates and/or little expectation of growth in the future – see the abnormally low fertility and postponed marriage rates in the U.S. (excluding recent immigrants), Japan and Europe.

                    I’m not so interested in this subject at the moment…

            • Nathanael says:

              Artificial birth control is a massive change. Most women strongly want to have 2 or fewer children. They still want lots of sex. Contraceptives make that possible.

        • superkaos says:

          Because that is what is written in our genes. Or in other words genes that make bodies have sex get passed from one generation to the next. Genes that don’t don’t obviously.

  16. The Aral Sea disaster was a result of the typical commie Soviet project design. Lake Chad comes and goes. It’s extremely shallow. One can practically walk across it.

    • TheDonald says:

      Well it’s about time someone here talks a little sense like yourself Fernando. Within less than a year America is going to make all of this doomer BS history. The Soviet’s, Iranian’s and all the other bad evil people will be dealt with. We will build a wall and you guessed it. Mexico will pay for it! We will build huge water filters and pumps and clean up our HRC dirty oceans, seas and lakes. You guessed it again, Cuba will pay for it. You will no longer need to buy white sheets and scissors to hide your pretty faces in shame. We will take the oil from ISIL and manufacture new and better megafauna lost because of the ObamaEconomy. There will be fantastic jobs for all the good Americans with the best health insurance and none of this ObamaCare crap designed for poor people.

      Join me and Make America Great Again ! (your either with us, or against us)

      Have no fear, the Donald is here !!!!!!!!!!

      • Doug Leighton says:

        “…manufacture new and better megafauna…”

        Right on man. Unicorns, let’s manufacture tons of unicorns and cover the planet with them. Woolly mammoths, maybe we can clone a few of these dudes too.

      • Jef says:

        You got my vote.
        Where do I send the check?

  17. RobM says:

    Nice essay. Thanks for speaking the truth.

  18. AlexS says:

    Excerpts from a document on the Aral Sea:

    ST. PETERSBURG STATEMENT ON THE ARAL SEA

    Background: An international conference on the Aral Sea, sponsored by the St. Petersburg Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and several other organizations, was held in St. Petersburg, Russia, from 12 to 15 October 2009. The conference was devoted to the Aral: Past, Present and Future and to two centuries of Aral Sea investigations. Scientists and some nonscientists from the European Union (Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Sweden), Israel, Switzerland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and Uzbekistan who are studying or interested in the Aral Sea or other similar water bodies participated in the meeting. The statement below is based on the presentations and discussions at this meeting. It represents the consensus of thought on the Aral Sea issue and has been reviewed and commented upon by many of the participants as well as several experts not at the conference

    The Aral Sea, a once large terminal lake lying in the deserts of Central Asia, has undergone unprecedented shrinking and salinization since the 1960s.

    In order to place the modern (post 1960) recession in context, it is essential to understand that the lake has experienced repeated recessions and transgressions since its most recent geological incarnation some 10,000 years ago. These have resulted from natural climate change, development of irrigation in the lake’s basin during the past 4,000 years, and repeated shifts of the major influent river (the Amu Dar’ya) from the Aral westward to the Caspian Sea and then back again to the Aral. The last factor, caused by both natural and human forces, appears to have been the primary cause of deep recessions, the most recent of which occurred during medieval times (13th to 16th Centuries).

    The modern (post 1960) recession is different than its predecessors. For the first time irrigation is the dominant force driving a major recession rather than diversion of the Amu River away from the lake. This desiccation is the most severe for at least several thousand years and soon will become the greatest in the last 10 millennia. The chief factor leading to the modern drying of the Aral was the expansion of irrigation in the sea’s drainage basin from the mid-1950s to the mid 1980s that went well beyond the point of sustainability, causing a marked decline of river inflow to the lake. Primarily irrigation and secondarily natural climatic cycles have been the dominant cause of the modern drying of the Aral. Global warming in recent decades has started to influence the water balance of the Aral and will become a more important factor in the future; however, it has not been a major cause of the Aral’s desiccation to this time.

    Diversion (redirection) of Siberian rivers southward to the Aral Sea Basin or the pumping of water from the Caspian to the Aral are not realistic options for solving water problems in Central Asia. They would be too expensive and complicated, would require complex international agreements, and have too many potentially serious environmental consequences. It would be wiser to focus on local and regional solutions to these key issues such as improved efficiency of water use in irrigation and efforts to preserve and partially restore remaining parts of the Aral Sea.

    Reports of the Aral Sea’s death are premature. Although the Aral Sea of the 1960s is gone for the foreseeable future, sizable parts of the lake remain. The Small (north) Aral Sea has been partially, and so far very successfully, restored so that it again has significant ecological and economic value. Although the Eastern Basin of the Large Aral is lost, the Western Basin could be partially preserved and restored, if studies show this to be economically and environmentally feasible. Laudable efforts are also underway to protect and preserve parts of the Syr and Amu Dar’ya deltas.

    Link: http://www.balticuniv.uu.se/index.php/component/docman/doc_download/1562-st-petersburg-statement-on-the-aral-sea

  19. Northwest Resident says:

    Mother Nature is going to take care of this problem sooner or later, and my guess is sooner than later. And yes, war is one of the many mechanism that Mother Nature has at her disposal to regulate human population. We’ve had enough energy these last hundred years or so to suppress Mother Nature, to hold her at bay. But we’re rapidly running out of that (accessible) energy, and the response from Mother Nature is exactly what we would expect it to be. She is moving in for the kill. We see it everywhere on the fringes right now, daily — mini-wars, increasing numbers of refugees, desperation increasing in all areas as the inevitability of our near-term collapse grows closer and closer. Those of us who wish the best for planet earth and all its wonders, and who also wish for the best possible long term outlook for the human species, find ourselves wishing that the monstrous waste machine known as “BAU” would hurry up and just die, regardless of individual consequences. On the bright side, once the human species has been put back into its place and wholly or mostly deprived of the fossil fuel energy that has enabled it to become so destructive, I suspect that Mother Nature will “quickly” heal herself — quickly being a relative term of course on the long timeline of geology.

    • BC says:

      “I suspect that Mother Nature will ‘quickly’ heal herself . . . ”

      But human apes are Nature, but we’re just a fleeting evolutionary “winner” waiting our turn to succeed the countless “losers” who preceded us. We’re “special” in the same way single-cell organisms and dinosaurs were “special” during their dominance, only we’re (marginally) conscious of our position on the planet.

      But we’re also just higher-order, high-entropy organisms evolved from stardust that have effectively fully populated our planetary test tube.

      The greatest gift that the vast majority of us could bequeath to our fellow human apes (and non-ape species) and our generational predecessors is to die, and ASAP. Just do it, already! 😀

      Reproducing oneself and subjecting oneself and one’s progeny to the increasing risk of worsening privation and unspeakable violence and mass destruction in the coming years is a profoundly stupid and selfish act.

      But stupid, selfish, and destructive are among human apes’ most enduring traits. 😀

      So, don’t delay! Donate your yummy, energy-dense, high-entropy carcass to a local bacteria, ant, termite, and cockroach colony/swarm today! And bring the wife, kids, and grandma!

      You’ll be improving the planet’s ecosystem, reducing EV commutes and lines at EV charging stations and for movie tickets, improving real GDP per capita, and being an exemplar of enlightened selflessness for your fellow stupid, selfish, destructive apes. 😀

      What better legacy could one leave behind? 😀

  20. Clueless says:

    Unless someone has the [perceived] power of Nostradamus, the end will come as a shock to most. Probably because something will cause “the system” to fail. For example, if something happens, and you cannot get food/water into New York City, well there goes millions in a month. And, when the shock comes, we have had recent experiences [Titanic, Donner Party, Seamen adrift at sea, the New York Twin Towers, etc] that show us pretty much exactly what will happen in various locations. Some will accept their fate and keep dancing. Others will jump off the ship, or the tower: suicide for them being preferable to an alternative high probability fate. Others will push the elderly, women and children out of the way to be one of the “lucky” survivors. Others will eat anything/anybody to cling to life. In the end, there will be pockets of humans all over the globe, disconnected from most others for the most part, who will be thrown “back in time” 2000 years. They will then start this all over again, perhaps more wisely, assuming that written history survives. The wolves and the deer and other wildlife will multiply exponentially. So will forests, etc. After the fire that destroyed such a large portion of Yellowstone Park, it is well on its way to fully recovering in less than 100 years.

    • TechGuy says:

      “. In the end, there will be pockets of humans all over the globe, disconnected from most others for the most part, who will be thrown “back in time” 2000 years. ”

      450+ Nuclear reactors falling and releasing about 200K tons of radioactive material (including spent fuel) in the air and water (lakes, rivers & oceans) probably means any pockets of humanity remaining will have to stay that way for about 30K years or more. Certainly during the “collapse” stage there won’t be anyone to maintain, contain or clean up failing/failed reactors. Fukashima still continues to pour tons of contaminated water into the Pacific every day. It will likely take another decade of cleanup work to stop contaminates from reacting the ocean. Chernobyl which blew up in 1986 has an exclusion zone of about 1000 sq miles, and that was for a single reactor and no spent pool breaches.

      Speaking of Nuclear reactors, we might see more nuclear meltdowns in the near future. The Ukraine as the gov’t is too broke to keep up with maintenance and also too broke to shutdown the reactors since they are an economic lifeline. At some point disaster is going to strike.

      http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2015/12/on-19th-day-of-christmas.html
      “You see, it has become known that these nuclear installations [in the Ukraine] have been skimping on preventive maintenance, due to lack of funds.”

      • Nathanael says:

        I’m sorry to disappoint your dooming, but most nuclear reactor failures will cause only local contamination (admittedly over hundreds of square miles). The Chernobyl “blow up to the sky” pattern is not very common.

        Furthermore, the main side effect of nuclear fallout is cancer. Which reduces people’s lifespans and quality of life, a lot, but doesn’t prevent people from having babies. There’s lots of wildlife in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, although it isn’t healthy.

  21. Stu from New Jersey says:

    Ron,
    Very good. The last chart is *fascinating*, and I will have to mull it over for a while, since carrying capacity is such an important question in futurism.
    “Doom” is a bit of a relativistic term; our population could crash by 99% and there would still be more of us around than at any time before agriculture (probably). How the other mega-fauna fare may depend a little on how fast our numbers decrease. (Interesting to note that the death rate of some segments of US is already increasing, such as whites with no college education.)
    BTW: on the rig count, isn’t the Canadian count simply rigs that had been laid down for Christmas?

  22. Caren Black says:

    Ron,
    Thank you for your piece.
    I refuse to use the ruler’s epithet for anyone who speaks – or thinks – truth. You are a realist. Since you are a realist, you need to flesh out your environmental information which is both out-of-date and one-sided. And, you need to add a keystone component.

    Due to self-reinforcing feedback loops present in all living systems, we are considerably further up the hockey stick handle of exponential change-inducing-change than your report presents. And, we are there not because people have babies but because twisted people who thrive on acquisition and control have systematically and brutally forced people off their land and into dependent consumption of whatever life forms the acquisitors are turning into money that week.
    http://guymcpherson.com/climate-chaos/climate-change-summary-and-update/
    http://paulbeckwith.net/tag/nthe/
    http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a36228/ballad-of-the-sad-climatologists-0815/

    The keystone component is radioactivity. Leaving aside the megatrillion nuclear weapons industry with its stockpiles of new and used weapons and its lack of safe storage for either, focus instead just on the close to 450 nuclear power plants globally operating by the end of this year. Check back to you water table maps. Back to the plants. What killed Fukushima? Not the earthquake, but the damage to water pumps bringing the vital coolant to the plants and the spent fuel pools. Without water and, ironically, electricity nuclear power plants melt down.
    http://www.statista.com/statistics/267158/number-of-nuclear-reactors-in-operation-by-country/
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/nuclear-basics/global-number-of-nuclear-reactors/

    There’s no way out of this one. No way to stave off nuclear meltdown or even to store the waste (see “Into Eternity” documentary) or shut down the plants. Synthesizing this with actual climate chaos now well underway, the geopolitical tinderbox, and the energy cliff leaves no question for those who make a habit of grasping the obvious. We devour each day left to us with a passion for life. We live simply so that we may live independent of the system destroying life. (read “Pray for Calamity” blog) We tidy up our lives, return our tiny corners of the earth to wild life, and plan for our exit well before age makes us a dependent tool of the killers. And, reaching out to other realists and to the earth, we find a communion and a peace never found in our years blinded by the system.
    Those who love hope can have it in place of dinner.

  23. Ghung says:

    Feasibility studies are also being done (or at least proposed) to restore Lake Chad by diverting the Ubangi River. But let’s forget these two examples and look for any ecosystems on the planet that aren’t in decline, or changing quickly (relative to geologic time), as a result of human activities. Any at all? On any scale that matters? Anyone?

    • Fred Magyar says:

      Hi Ghung,

      Ecosystems around the world aren’t doing all that well from what I can tell. Still there are occasionally glimmers of hope. Though even these may be only a temporary gain, sort of like one step forward two steps back.

      http://www.macroevolution.net/green-sea-turtles.html

      Researchers this week have counted 12,026 nests in the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge along the Broward County coastline. That number exceeds the 2013 record of 11,839 nests, and will likely grow, since there are two more weeks of nesting this year.

      “Back in the 1980s the beaches UCF monitored hosted less than 50 green turtle nests a year,” said Kate Mansfield, a UCF assistant professor of biology.

      Anyways I’m still trying not to dwell only on the gloomier aspects of what I know to be happening on all the ecological fronts. Maybe Ron is right and we are all totally fucked but even if he is right. I see only two choices, one committing suicide, or two, trying to promote a different way of doing things.

      Suicide Is Painless Lyrics Mash Theme
      Manic Street Preachers

      Through early morning fog I see
      Visions of the things to be
      The pains that are withheld for me
      I realize that I can see
      That suicide is painless
      It brings so many changes
      And I can take or leave them if I please
      The game of life is hard to play
      I’m gonna lose it anyway
      The losing card of some delay
      So this is all I have to say
      That suicide is painless
      It brings so many changes
      And I can take or leave them if I please

      • anon says:

        From the Johnny Mandel /Mike Altman version:

        “The losing card I’ll someday lay”

        Makes a lot more sense than the line above!

        • Fred Magyar says:

          Yeah, that was a copy and paste from some lyrics site and your line is probably the correct one…

          Actually I thought it might have been: “The losing card, I’ll someday, play”

          But I think I made my point.

    • Apneaman says:

      Ghung, small recent example.

      River ecosystems show ‘incredible’ initial recovery after dam removal
      Fate of one songbird species indicates fast rebound

      https://news.osu.edu/news/2015/12/28/river-ecosystems/

  24. Watcher says:

    http://www.bidnessetc.com/60514-will-suncor-energy-inc-successfully-complete-deal-with-canadian-oil-sands/

    Suncor wants an acquisition.

    The acquisition’s management want to keep their jobs.

    There is oil in the oil sands, and it will flow.

    • TechGuy says:

      “There is oil in the oil sands, and it will flow.”
      I just see them re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Today Oil made a new 12 year low! Even now worse than the 2008-2009 crisis. World is now in full blown retraction.

      Canada’s economy is primed for a major correction. its housing bubble is about to go pop!

      http://business.financialpost.com/personal-finance/debt/canadas-household-debt-ratio-hits-fresh-record-as-the-amount-canadians-owe-grows-faster-than-their-incomes
      Sept 11, 2015
      “Credit-market debt such as mortgages rose to 164.6 per cent of after-tax income from 163 per cent in the prior three months”

      The US housing bubble popped in 2007, with US consumer debt to after tax income was only about 127%. Canada was able avoid it on strong exports to China (Energy, lumber, etc) as well as Chinese buyer propping up real estate prices. I find it hard to believe Canada will avoid a crisis this time, now that the Chinese can no longer afford to prop up real estate prices and Canada’s exports have been declining for most of the year, despite a double digit loss it Canada’s currency value.

      US Fed forcasts 2015 Q4 GDP at 0.8%, and for Q1 2015 at -0.8%
      https://www.frbatlanta.org/cqer/research/gdpnow.aspx?panel=1

      All major industrial nations now indicate recession. US was the last man standing on real growth.

  25. oldfarmermac says:

    Hi Ron,

    Generally speaking I am compelled to agree with you, but all may not be lost.

    There is a distinct possibility most of the human race may perish before things go entirely to hell in a hand basket, and a possibility that a few people in a few places will be smart enough to put aside their PC bullshit and high and mighty holier than thou moralizing and come to grips with the fact that the world is INDISPUTABLY a Darwinian place.

    Now I am NOT predicting that we WILL do so, but it is not ENTIRELY out of the question that Sky Daddy might bless us Yankees with enough Pearl Harbor Wake Up Events that we will close our borders, encourage folks to have fewer kids, get really working on using less irreplaceable one time gift of nature resources more wisely, etc.

    Ecological collapse sufficient to wipe out huge swaths of humanity, probably most of us, is built in, I have to agree.

    But collapse is not NECESSARILY going to sweep across and around the entire planet in one steady all consuming wave.

    Some pockets of modern life may survive for a long time, perhaps indefinitely.

    ( I tried to post this comment around noon, but for some reason the site seems to have been down about that time. )

    • Nathanael says:

      I think it all depends on what you mean by “modern life”. I think there are some technologies people will hang onto very aggressively; other technologies will be abandoned completely.

  26. Nick G says:

    The dotted line in the chart above, the long term carrying capacity of terrestrial vertebrate biomass, is declining because of our destruction of animal habitat, which means our habitat.

    Ron,

    Where does that number (for carrying capacity) come from?

    You seem to be proposing a definition of carrying capacity based on our environment/ecosystem, not energy.

    I took a quick look at http://www.paulchefurka.ca/Population.html, and it’s clear that Paul’s concept of “carrying capacity” is related not to biomass, or our environment/ecosystem, but is based almost entirely on oil and fossil fuels.

    So, what’s the basis for concluding that the reduction in wildlife is reducing carrying capacity?

    ——————————

    I agree that humanity is destroying a great deal of our environment. It’s a tragedy, and a great loss. It will cause us many problems, and creates serious risks of various sorts.

    But….collapse of civilization??

    How are those two things connected together in the way you suggest?

    For instance, water. It’s a big problem, but it’s solvable with proper management.

    Fisheries? Yes, many species have been fished out. Some may never recover. But, does that threaten humanity or industrial civilization??

    Are there significant risks to Climate Change, extinguishing many species, and harming basic ecosystems like the ocean? Yes. Who knows what the consequences might be, and we should be working very very hard to avoid them.

    But, can we conclude that collapse of civilization is likely, or even certain? Where’s the evidence for that?

    The idea that collapse is unavoidable has the effect, even if it’s unintentional, of preventing constructive change.

    Why buy an EV if we’re going to hell in a handbasket? Why try to protect wildlife habitat if humanity is going to kill all wildlife eventually anyway?

    • oldfarmermac says:

      Hi Nick,

      It is almost impossible to reduce the essential biological principles involved to a few short sentences or paragraphs intelligible to person not well acquainted with the abc’s of ecosystems.

      So – you will have to take it on faith, so far as this comment is concerned – but there is a very real possibility, and in the opinion of many biologists, a high probability, that at some point, when you start removing species entirely from an ecosystem, or curtailing their numbers severely, the whole shooting match will simply collapse in catastrophic fashion.

      And ecosystems are tied together on a world wide basis.

      A relatively simple small seemingly almost trivial part can stop the biggest and most powerful machine in it’s tracks. I can cut a single small wire with a nail clipper and stop a forty ton bulldozer dead.

      If you remove a single particular insect , it is possible you could start a cascade of changes that would result in a world hardly recognizable to anyhuman who ever lived.

      This scenario is an extreme example , but not impossible at all.

      We could actually muck up the world wide ecosystem to such an extent we wipe ourselves totally out. The odds of that are extremely low, because we are so adaptable, so wide spread, and so numerous already, but the odds are NOT zero.

      • Nick G says:

        I agree. That’s what I meant when I said ” It will cause us many problems, and creates serious risks of various sorts.”

        But, again, Ron is saying that the collapse of human civilization and population is certain due to extinctions.

        That’s permission for the worst kind of apathy. As Ron says: why do anything if all is lost?

        So, what’s the evidence that collapse of civilization is likely, or even certain, due to extinctions? Do we have peer reviewed studies or publications? Or even popular publications?

        • Fuser says:

          Hi Nick G,

          As I suggested to Dennis above, I would also recommend you read a book that has been recommended on this site several times. Overshoot by William Robert Catton, Jr.

          Book recommendations fly fast and furious in internet forums -but this will truly change the way you see the world. In the very least will will gave an understanding about why doomers are doomers. You can get it cheap on Amazon.

          • Nick G says:

            I have taken a look at it. It’s useful, in a general way, just as the Club of Rome Limits To Growth model is useful as general conceptual background.

            But I don’t see evidence there for Ron’s argument that human civilization is certainly going to collapse, due to extinctions. Energy limits are Catton’s primary argument. He’s not making Ron’s argument about the environment.

            Do you see evidence for Ron’s extinction-based argument? If so, if you could provide specific citations (book and page) that you think are especially relevant, that would help advance the discussion.

            • But I don’t see evidence there for Ron’s argument that human civilization is certainly going to collapse, due to extinctions.

              Goddammit Nick, where did did I say that the collapse will be due to extinctions? Sometimes you truly amaze me Nick. You seem to get things into your head that have no basic in anything I, or anyone else, has said. How on earth do you come up with this shit?

              You have it backwards. The extinctions will be due to the collapse, the collapse will definitely not be due to any extinctions.

              Do you see evidence for Ron’s extinction-based argument?

              Goddammit Nick, there is no extinction-based argument. Nothing is based on extinction. Extinction will be a result, not a cause!

              How in God’s name do you come with this off the wall shit Nick?

            • oldfarmermac says:

              There is no way to PROVE mass extinction of many various species, LOTS of species , will result in most of humanity being wiped out, in the mathematical sense of proving something, or running a chemistry lab experiment.

              BUT – consider what would happen to the world economy if we were to start losing professions and trades, and industries, at an accelerating pace. We can reasonably hope to substitute one product or service for another, given time, or simply to do without, in some cases. But suppose we were to suddenly be without oil, which is rightly described as the lifeblood of modern industrial civilization? The consequences would be so bad as to mean the end of life as we know it. The consequences would probably range right up to a flat out WWIII.

              Economies can at least potentially adjust to the loss of SOME key professions, or SOME key industries,or SOME key resources, but not to TOO MANY TOO FAST, without suffering collapse.

              The situation is somewhat analogous with Nature, and the loss of species.

              Mother Nature can bring back a vibrant biosphere even from an asteroid hit, or a period of millions of years of extensive volcanism, or even a snowball earth. But the evolutionary process simply does not work fast enough to compensate for the damage we are doing to the biosphere- meaning NOT FAST ENOUGH to save our naked ape asses. What we have done already, even if we were to vanish tomorrow, would still be evident thousands of years from now.

              We don’t know enough to know just how close we may be to stopping the biological motor of the world already, to paraphrase John Galt.

              But we are too damned close, and most of us are going to pay the ultimate price, more than likely, before this century is out. Overshoot is about as well settled a topic among biologists as the laws of thermo are among engineers.

              If we make it to 2100 without a population collapse over large parts of the planet, it will be simply be because we are extraordinarily LUCKY.

              BUT there is no reason to assume that collapse will get ALL of us, or EVERY country. There are a few places that might pull thru ok, for at least the next century or two, again depending on some good luck.

              It is very hard to predict what people and countries MIGHT do when under extreme duress.

              Suppose the culture of a country is basically determined by a religion. I forget which, right off the bat, but in either Iran or Iraq sometime back the mullahs decreed that birth control is consistent with Islam, but later changed their minds after losing millions of people to the recent wars.

              Suppose a country dominated that way by a priest hood suffers a major famine with a significant portion of the population perishing as a result. The priest hood MIGHT institute a one child policy, or even a NO CHILD policy for a while, and force the diversion of every possible resource towards food production. Or the priests might just decide Sky Daddy wants them to lead an invasion of the weakest looking neighboring country.

              • Nick G says:

                Overshoot is about as well settled a topic among biologists as the laws of thermo are among engineers.

                Do you mean that most biologists agree with Ron’s argument for human overshoot? Can you find an article in the peer reviewed biology literature that supports that? Or, heck, something in popular literature?

                  • Nick G says:

                    Look closely. For instance, look at http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/world_footprint/

                    We see that the footprint now is about 1.6 “Earths”, and in 2030 it’s 2.1. Reduce CO2 emissions by 30% and it goes down to 1.5 – reduce it by 100%, and it would go down to well below 1.0.

                    So, most of the footprint is due to fossil fuels: subtract fossil fuels (especially CO2), and we’re no longer in overshoot.

                  • So, most of the footprint is due to fossil fuels: subtract fossil fuels (especially CO2), and we’re no longer in overshoot.

                    Subtract fossil fuels from the equation and we are all dead. Fossil fuel are the very reason we are in overshoot. They have enabled the world to feed 5 to 10 times more people than we would be able to do without fossil fuels.

                    Without the massive energy input from fossil fuels we are back to the 18th century. And back to the population of the 18th century.

                  • Nick G says:

                    Hmm..so the idea that fossil fuels are impossible to replace is the primary basis for the argument that civilization must collapse?

                  • so the idea that fossil fuels are impossible to replace is the primary basis for the argument that civilization must collapse?

                    Well no. Of course that is a very serious problem. But that is not the primary reason civilization must collapse. The reason is that we are deep into overshoot, we are way, way, past the human population that the earth can, long term, support.

                    Fossil fuel depletion will only speed up the process. But it is not the cause.

                  • Nick G says:

                    The reason is that we are deep into overshoot, we are way, way, past the human population that the earth can, long term, support.

                    But, what does that mean? How do we know? There are many billions of ants in the world, but no one says there are too many. So, are you worried about food? How do we know the human population is in overshoot?

                • OvershootDay.Org

                  What is Earth Overshoot?

                  Global overshoot occurs when humanity’s annual demand for the goods and services that our land and seas can provide—fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, wood, cotton for clothing, and carbon dioxide absorption—exceeds what Earth’s ecosystems can renew in a year. Overshoot means we are drawing down the planet’s principal rather than living off its annual interest. This overshoot leads to a depletion of Earth’s life-supporting natural capital and a buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Learn more

                  Also keep in mind that Overshoot Day, August 18th in 2015, refers to the day we have used up one year’s worth of renewable resources. The draw-down of non-renewable resources, or fossil fuels, are not part of that equation.

                  • Nick G says:

                    The draw-down of non-renewable resources, or fossil fuels, are not part of that equation.

                    This is based on the GFN footprint, discussed just above.

                    Subtract the various impacts of fossil fuel (especially carbon dioxide absorption), and we’re well below the threshold of overshoot.

                    So, we see this analysis says that the ecological damage done by humans (apart from the damage done by Fossil Fuels) is not enough to cause the collapse of civilization.

                    —————————————-

                    Look closely at the first website you provided. Just a little down the screen you’ll find this:

                    Living well and within the means of nature is not out of our reach. We see the greatest opportunities for improving sustainability in four areas: cities, energy, food and population.

                • Javier says:

                  Nick G,

                  You are right. Ecology biologists have a definition for carrying capacity and overshoot that in general doesn’t match Ron’s definition.

                  We had an ample discussion on this on the problem of the human population article, where I put a lot of bibliography on this particular issue.

                  Essentially carrying capacity only refers to a particular point in time, as it is a variable. And overshoot is usually defined as being above carrying capacity at a certain point in time. It does not make sense to talk about future in science, since it is an unknown. So in essence, at any point carrying capacity is the amount of population that can be supported on the amount of food available, so current carrying capacity is above current human population, and therefore we cannot be in overshoot at present as obviously there is enough food for all (even if not all get it). Once food production falls below levels needed to support current population, we are going to be in overshoot.

                  This is the view on the issue by most scientists, but obviously is not the view by the general population, as most people see that that current situation cannot be indefinitely extended into the future, and therefore we are in seriously dangerous situation that they call overshoot.

                  So we all see the same but we use the terminology differently. It is a linguistic issue.

                  Obviously nobody knows how many people can the planet support sustainably, because that depends on a lot of assumptions and choices.

                  • You are right. Ecology biologists have a definition for carrying capacity and overshoot that in general doesn’t match Ron’s definition.

                    You are correct. Ecological biologists usually only look at renewable resources, water, land, fish, etc. etc., while I am looking at all resources, both renewable and non renewable.

                  • Fred Magyar says:

                    So in essence, at any point carrying capacity is the amount of population that can be supported on the amount of food available, so current carrying capacity is above current human population, and therefore we cannot be in overshoot at present as obviously there is enough food for all (even if not all get it). Once food production falls below levels needed to support current population, we are going to be in overshoot.

                    That is absolutely incorrect!

                    Overshoot can indeed occur when there is still enough food available to feed a population, even a population that is still growing, if that population is in the process of drawing down non replenishing food and energy supplies that have accumulated over time and that are no longer being restored or replaced.

                    Just like you can still live for some time on money you might have in the bank even though though you no longer have any income and those funds are no longer being replenished and will eventually run out.

                  • Javier says:

                    You are getting lost, Fred,

                    What do you mean by drawing down non replenishing food? There is no way to reach agreement on that, and science needs agreement.

                    Let’s take an animal species whose population in a certain area depends on precipitations. Years of high precipitations see an increase in population size, while years of drought see a reduction. This is very common. Where do you put the carrying capacity of that area for that population? Precipitations change with time, and you can get very long droughts that drastically reduce carrying capacity, and there can be a long term change as an interglacial coming, or an area like the Sahara becoming a desert.

                    What ecology does is accept that carrying capacity for that species in that area changes with precipitation and define overshooting as the population size after one or more good years, when a dry year comes and reduces carrying capacity below population levels. Simple, everybody agrees. No point in saying that population is in overshoot in good years, because nobody knows how much it is going to rain next year.

                    The problem is anthropocentrism. Most people think only on human terms, and then try to define concepts in a way that only make sense for humans, which are a pretty special case when we study the entire biosphere, as biologists do. The overshooting definition that you defend is only good for humans, and only good to advance your goals.

                  • superkaos says:

                    If you read Catton’s book he gives examples of detritivore species. One that obtain nutrients from detritus. For example from fallen tree leaves. A particular species that eats this way will get a lot of food in the autumn, its numbers will increase then, but they will consume all food in say a month, they will then have 11 months to wait before food is again available and hence their number will decrease. He makes the point that we ourselves have become detritivores because we are using up the detritus from 300 million years ago in the form of oil. And of course we will use it up before it gets “regenerated”. So yes human carrying capacity increased because of our use of oil but only in a temporary fashion.

                  • Javier says:

                    When was the last time you ate oil or carbon, superkaos? I haven’t seen anybody in science picking on Catton’s concept of humans as detritivores. We use energy from any source to increase our food supply and for many other purposes, not to eat it. I agree with Catton that our increase in human carrying capacity through the use of external energy is only temporary, and I also see it as a dead end that is going to exact a dearly payment from us in the near future.

      • Dennis Coyne says:

        Hi Old Farmer Mac,

        The point is that many (not Ron, but others) seem to think that a total collapse of ecosystems is a high probability event. This is very different than arguing that the chances of it happening are not zero. If the probability is 1E-10, I wouldn’t lose a lot of sleep over that possibility. If the chances were 1 in 10, that is different.

        Note that probability is not zero could mean almost zero.

    • Where does that number (for carrying capacity) come from?

      Well it’s not my number.But I assume it comes from the fact that the world has always been at 100% carrying capacity since the Cambrian Era. And that is what the average terrestrial vertebrate biomass has been for almost half a billion years. If it had been greater, then it would have been greater.

      So, what’s the basis for concluding that the reduction in wildlife is reducing carrying capacity?

      Oh good grief Nick, please try to get fucking real here and try to understand what I am saying. It is not the reduction in wildlife that is reducing carrying capacity. It is the destruction of the ecosystem that is reducing carrying capacity. Goddammit Nick, did you even bother to try to understand what I was trying to say? It does not appear you even bothered to try to understand the problem.

      I would suggest that you read the post again Nick, and try to understand that the problem is the massive, massive, overshoot of the human population that is the problem. And it is not the consequences of human overshoot which you, very strangely, assume that I am saying is the problem.

      • Greenbub says:

        Just a quick note about ecosystems: Much of America is covered by lawns. Lawns rich with decades of petro-chemical fertilizer. If needs be, those lawns can very easily be converted to pasture and garden and orchard. The amount of food it could produce would be colossal . Americans will stay fat.

        • Fred Magyar says:

          If needs be, those lawns can very easily be converted to pasture and garden and orchard. The amount of food it could produce would be colossal . Americans will stay fat.

          That would just make the problem worse! I say let the lawns revert to weeds, wild flowers, bees, insects, birds, small rodents, foxes, etc… The last thing the planet needs is more Fat Americans!

        • Jef says:

          This is one of those great big brainless myths that people love to circulate to make themselves feel better.

          The average property could maybe produce 5 to 10% of what the household needs to consume to not die. Examples of suburban gardeners producing more than that are bringing in mass amounts of inputs and live in very unique micro climate areas.

          For every home/community garden producing food for someone there is a 1000 folks shopping at the grocery store for the same food.

        • farmboy says:

          Greenbub says ” Much of America is covered by lawns. Lawns rich with decades of petro-chemical fertilizer. If needs be, those lawns can very easily be converted to pasture and garden and orchard” You make it sound so easy. Have you ever done it?

          Chemically fertilizing soil deplets it of organic matter an destroys its biology, which is required to feed the plants once the chemical fertilizers are no longer used. My experience has been that it takes at least 3 years or so of covercrops, and grazing by ruminants, etc to turn soil around to be able to raise human food crops, without using loads of outside inputs.

          In the meantime said Americans will be dead.

          • Don Stewart says:

            I have recently been involved in exploring the potential for gardening some lawns in a relatively new subdivision. I find that the compaction layer into which roots cannot penetrate is 3 to 6 inches down…inadequate for plants, particularly if you don’t have tons of water to pour on them. The soils are clay, and decompacting them is not child’s play.

            I have been working on my own lawn for quite some time. I now have some areas which are 3 feet down to a compaction layer. A soil core reveals brown pigments down to 2 feet…so plenty of carbon in the soil at depth.

            My conclusion: If you plant to garden your lawn, get started now before you are desperate. If you want to read a good story about gardening and cancer and microbes, read The Hidden Half of Nature by a couple who bought a century old house in Seattle, only to discover that the back yard was compacted glacial till. Compost restored it. Compost made from scavenged urban detritus.

            Don Stewart

          • Greenbub says:

            Yes, I do it all the time, I am a gardener by trade. Take a pitchfork to a patch of lawn, turn it over, beat the earth from the turf, remove turf, add some manure or compost, mix it in and you are ready to go.

            No, Americans will not be dead. Dream on.

      • Nick G says:

        Well it’s not my number.

        Well, whose is it? what’s the source? Paul Chefurka seems to base his analysis on Peak Oil, not ecological damage.

        It is the destruction of the ecosystem that is reducing carrying capacity.

        Is it? Food production is going up. Heck, that’s why the Aral Sea disappeared: they could produce more food using the source river’s water for irrigation.

        World food production is growing steadily. What’s the evidence that carrying capacity is falling? By evidence I mean something quantitative, for the world overall, not anecdotal evidence of farmers or local areas with problems.

        • Javier says:

          Nick G,

          To discuss about carrying capacity and overshoot you have to first agree on their exact meaning and estimated value. If you want scientific information on the issue you can go as I said to the article The problem of the human population in Ron’s blog.

          To me the main issue can be easily explained as follows:
          Humanity has raised artificially its carrying capacity by a variety of methods that include:
          -Appropriation of land and species for agriculture and cattle raising.
          -Use of external energy to boost productivity and improve conditions.
          -Use of mineral resources to boost productivity and improve conditions.
          -Increase of knowledge to boost productivity and improve conditions.
          In doing so humanity has boosted its carrying capacity about a thousand times (from less than 10 million before agriculture to less than 10 billion now).

          To maintain this trend humanity requires an increase in all those factors, however:
          -There’s no more land to appropriate, what is left is either low quality or protected, and we are facing serious issues to maintain what land we use due to erosion and increasing problems to irrigate land. Oceans are also seriously depleted of commercial value fish, that we are starting to farm.
          -We seem to have problems to increase external energy as we approach the end of fossil fuels.
          -Soon we are going to reach also limits in mineral resources.
          -Many people think that knowledge is unlimited, but as science develops more and more, it requires more resources and more people, so in many areas science also has limits. Case in point controlled fusion. We know it exists yet we are unable to develop it. It may not be feasible or practical on Earth.

          So the moment we are unable to sustain this artificially raised carrying capacity, we are going to be in deep, deep shit. Nobody knows how deep because we still have agriculture and knowledge and we will get some external energy hopefully, but some fear we may drop our carrying capacity by an order of magnitude (90% decrease) over the next centuries, and in my opinion that is perfectly possible.

          • Dennis Coyne says:

            Hi Javier,

            If World total fertility ratios continue to fall to 1.5 births per woman in two centuries human population could fall to 900 million as people choose to reduce the number of offspring, if carrying capacity falls by 90% and population peaks at 8.5 billion that would be close to the correct level.

            Of course it is possible that the World TFR could fall to Japanese or South Korean levels, in which case human population would be below 700 million by 2300 and close to 10% of present human population.

            You expect population will fall faster than this due to increasing death rates (I am assuming life expectancy continues to rise for the World to an average of 90 years, where you expect life expectancy will fall which tends to reduce population more quickly).

            We have very different views about whether fossil fuel resources can be replaced by wind, solar, and nuclear power and whether mineral resources that become scarce can be recycled (sewage could be processed to produce fertilizer for example) and Water can be conserved through gray water recycling and composting toilets as well as recycling water (especially grey water, used for washing rather than toilets).

            • Javier says:

              Yes that is pretty much what I think, Dennis. Population is going to fall through a combination of reduced fertility and increased mortality to about 15% of current over 2-3 centuries.

              The main difference between you and me on this point (besides different dates for peak oil and next global recession) is that you believe that a big part of our industrial civilization is going to be churning along, while reducing in size to accommodate that remaining 850 million population into a society different to ours but pretty advanced.

              But you have to explain two things:

              1. How do you reduce the size of an economy so much without it imploding. Most economical factors (debt, interest rates, investment) only take place if the economy grows.

              2. Have you taken a look at your population pyramids along that population reduction? Do you seriously think that a society can withstand those population pyramids and still function? The way we have designed our services (education, health, retirement) They are not going to work.

              Finally it is hard to imagine that in a world almost without children and populated by elders, yet according to you still functioning, women are going to continue repressing their fertility to such a low level.

              • Dennis Coyne says:

                Hi Javier,

                First I do not see society continuing to function in the current way because circumstances will be very different.

                I also expect this transition will be exceedingly difficult and possibly a slow “collapse” as in a Great Depression which will see economic contraction and more efficient use of scarce resources due to lower incomes.

                It seems that Japan is a kind of laboratory for how we deal with a demographic transition.

                Women have continued to suppress their fertility in Japan even though per capita income has continued to grow, this is part of a social change where educated women do not see themselves primarily as mothers.

                Not sure how debt etc are dealt with in this transition and when the Earth gets to a human population of 500 million total fertility ratios will need to rise to 2.1 per women at the World level or population will crash.

                Note that there will be excess wealth that will be passed down to younger generations as the elderly population passes on, this may reduce the need for debt. For those that die without heirs the state can claim the wealth and it can be used to support infrastructure or pay down government debt. The elderly may also need to work longer before retirement for such a society to function.

                It is difficult to predict the future social structure, but the rules will be changed as needed.

            • If World total fertility ratios continue to fall to 1.5 births per woman in two centuries…

              In two centuries? I always have to chuckle at your predictions Dennis. Two centuries no less?

              • Dennis Coyne says:

                Actually I got this wrong, the UN low fertility scenario has the total fertility ratio(TFR) for the World falling to 1.5 in 85 years, which is conservative. If the rate of decrease from 1965 to 2010 for World TFR continues for the next 26 years we will be under 1.6 by 2041.

                We might not do that well, but 1.75 by 2050 is pretty reasonable.

        • Nick, the numbers are not Paul Chefurka’s, they belong to Vaclav Smil and are from this paper:

          Harvesting the Biosphere: The Human Impact

          The charts are Chefurka’s, which he created using Smil’s data.

  27. I'd rather walk says:

    Nice post Ron. One thing that struck me as you were outlining a very truncated list of the overall costs of our expansion, almost right away, was that if you look at a complete list, you realize that denialists ALWAYS pick only ONE of the list, and then start picking away at it, as if the forest will vanish due to a tree getting trimmed. Obviously, I’m thinking here of your own blog’s pet denialists, who seem intent on proving that systems thinking in no way, shape, or form, has anything to do with working as say, an alleged biologist or, say, a cuban petroleum geologist.

    Of course, you have to pick just one item to deny, since you can’t deny all of them at once. One recalls, for example, the OJ Simpson defense strategy of picking away at the glove itself, and picking away at the overwhelming blood evidence until they had the legally admissible blood to be small enough to fit into a vial, which Furman could then have planted.

    I learned a lot about how defense works following that trial, and never had any problem seeing that that methods used by denialists were generally identical to those used by defense attorneys, ie, chip away at a subset of evidence, ignore the forest always.

    It’s useful to remind oneself of this, particularly when you see two guys start to tag team their denialism on a popular blog comment section. Not saying all denialists are shills, but they might as well be, and what they certainly are all NOT are systems thinkers.

    In terms of the reality, one thing I have noticed is just how fast nature fills in ecological niches via very rapid evolution, when required.

    That includes humans. It’s also useful to remember that it’s not humans that destroy large fauna, despite the poorly constructed myths we like because they sort of suggest that it’s human nature, not OUR nature, our specific tribes, that is. Lots of human cultures have lived more or less with large animals for hundreds of thousands of years without terminating them, if confused about this, just look at sub saharan africa. Most recent evidence likewise puts into serious doubt the story of humans wiping out large animals in the americas, the problem there? A lot of recent evidence, which puts the events out of synch.

    This is worth keeping in mind, but in any larger sense, doesn’t matter, since it’s us that are the problem, and it’s us who will be the ones finalizing the 6th great extinction event, but it is useful to remember that it’s not intrinsic to human nature per se, which is quite flexible and maleable, to live unsustainably, which even a brief study of real anthropology shows. The Cheyenne, for example, very rapidly formed a working population control vs available food supply system that was powered by taboo, and it worked.

    Re ghung, except for micro systems like parks and preserves (you know, what the far right extremists in oregon want to reclaim as land to grow more cows), all I see is damage, getting worse by the year. It’s helpful to go out into nature and see for oneself, it’s not hard.

    As I like to note to people who are thinking on such things, bloomberg has a live CO2 counter, and you can always look at the mauna loa CO2 charts to skip the gibberish spread about dealing with this issue. As long as those numbers are rising, you know the last meeting was just hot air, so to speak. Once you see a significant and lasting downward trend, or even a plateauing, you’ll know something is finally changing.

    But what strikes me is the awareness of a few simple natural rules: the unsustainable can’t be sustained. So all the arm waving and waste of breath re trying to deny this stuff makes no difference at all, the stuff is still unsustainable. I don’t think it’s worth worrying about how fast or slow it will happen, though a quick look at the fossil fuel vs global population growth I think gives you a pretty good idea of how fast it will decline, probably right along with drops in fossil fuel production. Obviously there’s no place for growth based systems based on non sustainable resource extraction and consumption in a sustainable system, so the somewhat desperate refusal to see the big picture is really simply because power can’t see itself benefiting, though they are really just a bit short on vision, you have have quite sustainable systems, think stone structures etc, that are completely fine for power, aka, feudalism.

    It’s further worth noting that capitalism and industrialism themselves arose only with increasing resource consumption, particularly fossil fuels. So they are very unlikely to be the systems that we will have in our more sustainable future, where our current ideologies will be viewed probably much as they are, simple manifestions of a certain material consumption pattern.

    Just looking at current evolution, the new wolf-coyote hybrid comes to mind, but the mule deer also is interesting, because these creatures evolved to exist around humans, and they evolved very quickly to exploit certain niches. I think that’s what the recovery from human over population will look like, niche by niche will be filled based on available genetic stock, same as the galapogos finches each evolved quickly to fit its niche, or the famous light moth evolved into the dark moth when London got darkened by coal dust.

    This is also one of the strongest reasons you want to maintain nature preserves, the more diversity is available to reseed the earth, the better, which is obviously a form of systems thinking FAR beyond the simplistic mental abilities of our friends up in oregon, with their silly toy guns and trucks etc, any excuse to use your toys I guess.

    The biggest obstacle is the profound humanism that has contaminated human cultures over the past few hundred years (right along with resource consumption increases, not coincidentally). This ideology will also go I believe, in bits and pieces, as people start to grasp at a gut level that no, in fact, you can’t actually help those overpopulated regions by feeding them during famines etc. Or trucking in water etc.

    It will be interesting to watch how we adapt socially and ideologically to the limits to growth, but what is NEVER interesting is denialists, who merely are proving that systems thinking is a poorly distributed commodity in human culture. That as well is not a coincidence, in my opinion, such thinking was important for a few key members of the tribe, but not for all of them. Most were supposed to follow tradition, taboo etc, which is what you see in our world too.

  28. Jonathan Madden says:

    Gloomy post, Ron, and the very evocative pics amplifying your words are somehow appropriate for the dark days of early January in northern latitudes. I would like to believe that Russia will find the wherewithal to protect the massive fresh water Lake Baikal from man made pollution. At least its great depth will keep the water in place.

    The news a few months back of E. coli resistance to the antibiotic Colistin in Chinese pigs and its potential transfer to other pathological bacteria suggests the last line of antibiotic defence may have been breached. New drugs will need to be found – I have have long wondered about anti-bacterial phages, the spaceship lookalikes that lie between viruses and bacteria in complexity and size and which can adapt rapidly when confronted with a new bacterial pathogen and destroy the cell wall. They were used in the FSU as operating theatre disinfectants and produced in Tbilisi, Georgia. But I do not know if they can be administered effectively as a drug.

    Human population may collapse if antibiotics fail.

    http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2015/11/21/mcr-gene-colistin/

    • I'd rather walk says:

      The main problem with antibiotics is over use, particularly agricultural overuse. That’s just basic criminal corruption. Animals gain slightly more weight per input unit when fed antibiotics, more or less. The solution to antibiotic issues is to severely limit their use. Bacteria adapted to high antibiotic environments will quickly vanish when you remove the high antibiotic systems, since those bacteria no longer have any particular advantage over others.

      A lot of our ‘issues’ are caused pure and simple by industrial corruption, that pretends simple issues can’t be fixed, because those issues cost someone lost profits. Think Coal power, industrial ag abuse of antibiotics, etc.

      Good public policy can make a big difference in these scenarios, though they won’t do much for the lager issues Ron highlights in this thread.

      • BC says:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSUAAKFLoL0

        Make it age 35 instead of 30.

        At this very late progression into human ape population overshoot, rather than costly antibiotics, statins, and oncological drugs, I advocate for highly effective, “Logan’s Run”-, “Carroussel”-like substances that induce ecstatic, euphoric perceptions for mass-social exit.

        Make it a mass-social ritual, like the NFL, NASCAR, NCAA Final Four, and American Idol.

        Why grow old, useless, unemployable, anachronistic, fearful, depression, and broke?

        Drop out, tune in, turn on, and fade or fly away! 😀

        A good death of one’s own chooising is no less important than a life lived well (or at least attempted to achieve same). 🙂

        • Hickory says:

          “A good death of one’s own chooising is no less important than a life lived well”

          An excellent point for each individual and I suggest each have a mechanism in place for the eventuality!
          Also an excellent idea for the entire culture to consider.

          Thanks for the post Ron. Don’t worry too much about those who can’t bear to look at truth in the eye. I’ve come to realize that you can’t make people understand what they don’t want to.

    • oldfarmermac says:

      “Human population may collapse if antibiotics fail.”

      This is rather unlikely, except possibly at a local or regional level. Most of us would live our lives out without any antibiotics at all ,excepting in the case of an epidemic disease such as bubonic plague breaking out, and we know how to contain epidemics these days by way of quarantines.

      Nevertheless it should be a felony to use antibiotics in livestock feeds. You can take this to the bank, based on my own professional expertise. The benefits in terms of more meat per unit of feed are modest at best, and there is NO economic return for the farmer resulting from their use.

      Meat production is an “at cost” industry. If somebody figures out how to raise chickens for a penny a pound cheaper than everybody else, the advantage to him is enormous- until the competition copies his new innovation. Very soon everybody is using the new method, and the profit margin, such as it is, falls back to the former level, for everybody.

      Meat basically sells, wholesale, for what it costs to produce it, because meat production is an extremely competitive industry.

      Take away every farmers antibiotics, and every farmer, in essence will still have the same profit margin, painting with a broad brush.

      If the price of the card board boxes used to ship apples goes up fifty cents, the wholesale cost of apples in boxes goes up fifty cents. Ditto if the container price declines. All orchardists pay the same price for these boxes, which are a commodity good, so the price of them is irrelevant to our profit margin as working farmers, long term.

  29. ezrydermike says:

    most here probably already know about this, but….

    “Wilson recently calculated that the only way humanity could stave off a mass extinction crisis, as devastating as the one that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, would be to set aside half the planet as permanently protected areas for the ten million other species. “Half Earth,” in other words, as I began calling it—half for us, half for them. A version of this idea has been in circulation among conservationists for some time.”

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/can-world-really-set-aside-half-planet-wildlife-180952379/?no-ist

    http://eowilsonfoundation.org/

    • wimbi says:

      Thanks, ezry, I have passed this around to all my good people here.

      Now, on to what to do when in the doo. First, I assume a scenario, no more or less likely than any other you care to invent.

      Mother nature hits back, soon, hard and fast, and about a billion starving, sick and desperate folk push into Europe and another billion here, right here in River City. Crash, all fall down, except for a few million scattered all around.

      Those, however, have all the stuff left by the billions, covered with vines tho it might be, but still wealth -both hardware and knowledge. And lots of the few have the wits, wisdom and willingness to start putting it together again.

      And off we go again!

      My job, being what I am, is to cook up the stuff I know can be useful in that first start. The sun and wind we have with us always, and I, and many thousands of others, are whacking together from all the left-overs things that take that and turn it into what those happy few will want to have to start them off.

      Don’t bother to tell me it’s all hopeless. It’s fun and harmless. Hopeless? Hopeless, as I have said so many times, is illogical. Given that the future is unpredictable. Yes.

      • Joe Clarkson says:

        About the knowledge-

        Humans have discovered a lot about the world and put that knowledge in writing. But the effective use of knowledge also depends on surplus energy. Someone has to have the free time to read the books that contain the knowledge and convey that information to someone else who has the free time to use it. People who spend all their time scrounging for food aren’t reading books about cellular biology or the latest findings in cosmology.

        A fabulous amount of knowledge might be contained in a great library, but if the books therein aren’t read, the knowledge disappears for all practical purposes. And then, if the books rot away in the unmaintained great library due to a leaking roof, then even the potential use of that knowledge disappears.

        This means that knowledge will decline in lockstep with either population decline or energy decline, very likely never to be known again.

        • Dave P says:

          Knowing our nature, some enlightened humans post-collapse would probably burn such books for temporary warmth.

          • robert wilson says:

            In Huxley’s Ape and Essence (1948), a band of post-apocalyptic nomads discovered a wonderful energy source – the buried books of the Los Angeles Public Library.

  30. SatansBestFriend says:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3388978/Teenager-s-stomach-pains-sickness-caused-3-STONE-parasitic-twin-teeth-hair.html

    This has nothing to do with energy, but if this is true this is straight out of a science fiction movie.

    I apologize for the distraction, unfortunately I agree with Ron, we are completely fucked. Nothing to add.

    • robert wilson says:

      I encountered these on rare occasions during my training and radiologic practice. If interested google “x-ray fetal teratoma” and click image.
      — (Yes we have a predicament.)

      • SatansBestFriend says:

        Does this mean that under certain circumstances our closest genetic relatives may (unconciously) view us as a parasitic opportunity? It doesn’t get any closer than twins.

        Anyway, I find this a fascinating biological story (since I aint the guy that had to go thru the surgery…lol!). But am completely ignorant about it.

        thanks for your input Robert!

        The Selfish Gene

  31. Jef says:

    Right there with ya Ron.

    I have always believed that the limits to growth model did not give enough weight to industrial civilizations waste stream. The ways in which we are killing off the flora and fauna and the biosphere itself are too numerous to list here and many more that I am sure we don’t even know about.

    I work my small farm and take solace in the land, plantings, and animals that thrive here for the meantime.

  32. islandboy says:

    While I sit here in my Twilight Zone world on my tropical island surrounded by everybody else trying, sometimes desperately, to do their best to “get ahead” in life, buy that car, then that house, have some kids and live happily ever after. It often doesn’t quite work out and definitely not in the order I gave. Quite often it’s the kids that come first and definitely not out of a desire to have kids but, a desire to have something quite different. Sad thing is that it’s the people who can least afford the kids that are having them early and often.

    Truth is, I don’t know anybody else in my neck of the woods who reads this site or who is a doomer. “Negative people”, as I think doomers would be referred to, are like twenty first century lepers, to be avoided at all costs sonI have learned to keep my trap shut, unless I am dealing with somebody who is wondering why “times are so hard” and even then, like oldfarmermac is fond of saying, you can’t get the subtleties of these across with mere soundbites so I just bottle it up.

    I suppose my “optimism” and EVangelism and pushing for renewables is just a coping mechanism. Nobody wants to hear about population control, or overshoot or limits to growth or Peak Oil. You’ll get called “negative” or “depressing” or something like that. How do you tactfully tell a young woman who is having great difficulty coping with one child that, getting pregnant again was beyond stupid? I recently had a conversation with another young unemployed woman, who wants to go try her luck in Trinidad, like so many other Jamaicans have done, some with some amount of success. Now being familiar with what’s going on with oil, the fact that low oil prices are putting the Trinidadian economy into a tailspin and that they are not exactly rolling out the red carpet for Jamaicans, I advised to be careful. I was told I was negative. I will withhold advice like that in the future.

    I have seen the damage done around here by “not so wild” fires over the past two summer in particular, with one fire burning about a quarter of my six acre homestead. IMO most of the fires were lit by people employing slash and burn clearing of land for agriculture, which is bad enough by itself but, bordering on insanity (pyromania/pyrophillia) when the grass and shrubs are tinder dry and the weather is hot and windy. On one occasion last year, driving some miles to help a friend collect some water from on of the few places near enough with water available from a publicly accessible pipe, I saw so much scorched hillside that I realized that all the EVs and PV in the world cant fix stupid. We are toast but, I still have to do whatever I can to “mitigate”, for my own peace of mind. If I don’t I might just go crazy.

  33. SW says:

    Yep, it is going to be very, very ugly. The availability of cheap fossil fuel in end will have turned out to have been a curse, not the blessing that it seems to have been. From a short sighted perspective it looked as though it enabled the industrial revolution which gave us all this wonderful progress. Yet it also enabled the overshoot that spelt our doom. Like yeast in a vat of fermenting beer. We will eat and shit and fuck until there is nothing left but our own toxic waste. We have in the end absolutely no self control. So it goes.

    However, I would argue that so, it has always gone. The Earth has survived through multiple mass extinction events. Wiping the surface nearly clean and starting practically from scratch on numerous occasions. What we are doing is heinous. And we will most likely be purged because of it. But life, DNA is amazingly robust, and time measured in billions of years is a consummate artist. There will be another regime. No telling what it will be composed of or what it will look like. To believe that the Earth itself is destined to end up a sterile rock because of our actions is itself a form of hubris and signifies a lack of imagination. We are likely toast and as you point out the we are probably going to take down this iteration of the megafauna with us. They don’t deserve it. We do.

  34. Apneaman says:

    Nick G, here’s some studies.

    Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction

    http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/5/e1400253

    Human domination of the biosphere: Rapid
    discharge of the earth-space battery foretells
    the future of humankind

    https://collapseofindustrialcivilization.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/pnas-2015-schramski-1508353112.pdf

    • Nick G says:

      From the abstract for the first article:

      “Averting a dramatic decay of biodiversity and the subsequent loss of ecosystem services is still possible through intensified conservation efforts, but that window of opportunity is rapidly closing.”

      Would these authors agree with Ron that we should do nothing, because it’s hopeless, or that our efforts would only make things worse??

      • Apneaman says:

        I doubt any scientist would say that who is still beholden to an institution for their paycheque. If fact, I know Ehrlich and Ceballos, the lead authors, have not said they have totally given up or told others too. Ehrlich has recently said he gives civilization has a 10% chance and Ceballos has expressed some non specific optimism. The thing is, the study is not about civilization; it’s about mass extinction including us. Their civilization predictions are personal opinions whereas the extinction stuff is peer reviewed work. Media games. Now, I alway have found it interesting and useful to listen to the professionals that have retired and no longer feel the need to self censor. You may have heard Colin Campbell admit to lying his ass off while he was employed in the oil industry. Retirement has it’s privileges and old men are less likely to pretend. Here’s what a couple of old biology guys said when asked about our chances. Just their opinions of course.

        Web of life unravelling, wildlife biologist says

        “Wildlife biologist Neil Dawe says he wouldn’t be surprised if the generation after him witnesses the extinction of humanity.”

        “Everything is worse and we’re still doing the same things,” he says. “Because ecosystems are so resilient, they don’t exact immediate punishment on the stupid.”

        – See more at: https://web.archive.org/web/20150425132240/http://www.oceansidestar.com/news/web-of-life-unravelling-wildlife-biologist-says-1.605499#sthash.ABZgSkRu.dpuf

        Humans will be extinct in 100 years says eminent scientist

        “Eminent Australian scientist Professor Frank Fenner, who helped to wipe out smallpox, predicts humans will probably be extinct within 100 years, because of overpopulation, environmental destruction and climate change.”

        Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2010-06-humans-extinct-years-eminent-scientist.html#jCp

        • Javier says:

          whereas the extinction stuff is peer reviewed work

          Which means very little, because published peer-reviewed current extinction rates vary by two orders of magnitude. You really cannot conclude much, when you don’t know much, although that should not deter anybody from publishing since it is publish or perish.

          • Dennis Coyne says:

            Hi Javier,

            No doubt there are outliers, but isn’t there a smaller window than that when many peer reviewed papers are considered, what is the average of the peer reviewed estimates? What is the range if we throw out the 5% on the high and low end?

            I am assuming that simply ignoring all peer reviewed science does not make sense to you.

            • Javier says:

              I ignore that Dennis. I do not keep track of those estimates. It is a guessing game from beginning to end as pretty much every data needed to estimate them is unknown, and difficult to establish a meaningful range.

              • Dennis Coyne says:

                Hi Javier,

                Not everything in science is known with precision, estimates often have to be made, and some are better than others. Typically there is a mainstream estimate which is widely agreed on (or in some cases a range which most scientists agree is reasonable). Generally the attitude is not, if we don’t know it exactly we will not pay attention.

      • Would these authors agree with Ron that we should do nothing, because it’s hopeless, or that our efforts would only make things worse??

        I have never maintained that we should do nothing. And there is hope… hope that you, or your family, can be among the survivors. I have always maintained that you should put all your time, effort and money into an attempt to be among the survivors. Time, money and effort put into trying to save humanity is time, effort and money wasted.

        • Jimmy says:

          “you should put all your time, effort and money into an attempt to be among the survivors. Time, money and effort put into trying to save humanity is time, effort and money wasted.”

          I couldn’t agree more!

          • T A McNeil says:

            “time and effort and into an attempt to be among the survivors is money wasted.”

            Ditto

          • T A McNeil says:

            And then, there are those who say –

            “time and effort and into an attempt to be among the survivors is money wasted.”

            While others cannot distiguish the between the functions and nature of language and mathematics. So they eat potatoes.

        • Lightsout says:

          I would argue that time and money put towards being a survivor would be wasted. Who wants to witness the world after collapse. The so called preppers I have spoken to seem to think that after they emerge from their bunkers life will be rosy for them and the other survivors.
          I suspect that only a very few humans who have lived in these wonderfully comfortable times will be psychologically able to cope with the bleak horror that follows. I like the world the way it is and when it has to end then so will I. I am 45 years old so if I am lucky the end of the world (for me) is only 30 or 40 years away whatever happens to the planet.

          • Joe Clarkson says:

            You have got to be kidding!

            People are no happier in these “wonderfully comfortable times” than they were before the emergence of our “comfortable” industrial civilization. Even now, do you imagine all those subsistence farmers in India or Africa and remaining tribal peoples scattered around the world are suicidal with despair because they don’t have dishwashers?

            True, collapse will be wrenching to those who live through it, but those who survive will find out right away how easy it will be to adapt to their diminished circumstances. I bet that even you are tougher than you think you are.

            Of course, the children of those who survive will be just fine with it. Those children are the ones we are prepping for. Get a grip.

            • Nick G says:

              do you imagine all those subsistence farmers in India or Africa and remaining tribal peoples scattered around the world are suicidal with despair because they don’t have dishwashers?

              No, but they’ll often be hit by fear and sadness, with 50% child mortality and many other similar problems.

      • Eustace H. Plimsol says:

        Nick – A couple of other decent books: Collapse or Sustainability by Costanza et. al, Collapse by Diamond, The Dominant Animal by Ehrlich, Collapse of Complex Societies by Tainter, Climate Wars by Dwyer. Actually any book or article by any of these is worth a read – they have different approaches but my reading is that they all basically say that when a civilisation has insufficient net supply of a key resource it collapses – and if there is wide disparity in wealth between the richest and poorest, then it collapses really fast. We have many key resources all of which are in difficulties (soil, water, phosphate, fossil fuels, suitable and stable temperatures and humidity in the main crop growing regions) and we have a hugely unequal wealth distribution.

        However I have to say I don’t see much point in you reading any of them if your understanding of them would be at the same level as that for Ron’s piece. You are criticising him for things that he simply did not say. You are addressing what is essentially an op-ed piece as if it is a peer reviewed ecology article. You are assuming that because something can be done (like conserving water, or soil, or fossil fuels) it will be done (this is one of the key negative impacts of wealth inequality). You are conflating, like a lot of religious arguments do, whether to have a particular belief is a good thing with wether that belief is correct (among a few other logical fallacies).

        • Nick G says:

          You are addressing what is essentially an op-ed piece as if it is a peer reviewed ecology article.

          Asking for evidence to back up opinions is the standard operating procedure on this blog, I thought.

          You are assuming that because something can be done (like conserving water, or soil, or fossil fuels) it will be done (this is one of the key negative impacts of wealth inequality).

          I agree that it’s always good to read what people actually say, and, I didn’t say that. I asked for evidence that it could not be done.

          conflating, like a lot of religious arguments do, whether to have a particular belief is a good thing with wether that belief is correct (among a few other logical fallacies).

          No, I’m asking for evidence whether the belief is correct. My argument is that you should be very confident that a belief is correct before you publicize it, if a mistake would have seriously negative consequences. A belief that our civilization will absolutely, necessarily collapse, and that therefore there is no reason to try to shape public policy in a better direction, is a very important thing to get right.

    • Javier says:

      I will repeat this post because most people seem unaware that the media is misrepresenting science on the issue of the purported 6th mass extinction. Most scientists do not believe that we are in a mass extinction, and those that do cannot demonstrate it because nobody knows what the extinction rate is now and what the extinction rate was in the past.

      Species extinction is one of the serious problems that we have with the environment, but not the worst by far. The worst problems are the reduction in wildlife populations and the destruction of habitats. But somehow the media loves the extinction stories because they are so… definitive.

      The main problem with all those claims about extinction rates and mass extinctions is that we have no idea how many species are there in the world and we even know less about their rate of extinction. So you get an idea the claimed rates of extinction in scientific literature go from 500 per year to 36,000 per year. there is very little that you can claim when you don’t even know the extinction rate by two orders of magnitude.

      Let’s get a little bit of sanity into the debate from the experts:

      Nature 516, 158–161 2014
      Biodiversity: Life ­– a status report
      Species are disappearing quickly — but researchers are struggling to assess how bad the problem is.
      Richard Monastersky

      “Nature pulled together the most reliable available data to provide a graphic status report of life on Earth…
      One simple way to project into the future would be to assume that the rate of extinction will be constant; it is currently estimated to range from 0.01% to 0.7% of all existing species a year…
      At the upper rate, thousands of species are disappearing each year. If that trend continues, it could lead to a mass extinction — defined as a loss of 75% of species — over the next few centuries…
      At the low end of the estimated range, a mass extinction would not happen for thousands of years.”

      Check the nice graph at the end that shows that over two thirds of species loss is due to exploitation and habitat degradation and change.

      Nature 516, 144 2014
      Editorial Protect and serve
      Nations must keep expanding conservation efforts to avoid a biodiversity crisis.

      “There are some hopeful signs. Countries are rapidly expanding the areas they shield from destructive human activities. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced last month that countries have set aside 6.1 million square kilometres of ocean and land habitat since 2010, which increases the total protected areas to 15.4% of Earth’s land and 3.4% of its oceans. According to UNEP, countries are on track to meet a 2020 goal established under the Convention on Biological Diversity to protect 17% of land areas, although reaching the 10% target for coastal and marine regions will require further efforts. The total areas set aside now equal the size of Africa.”

      A very nice conservation essay:
      Rethinking extinction
      The idea that we are edging up to a mass extinction is not just wrong – it’s a recipe for panic and paralysis
      Steward Brand

      “Most extinctions have occurred on oceanic islands or in restricted freshwater locations, with very few occurring on Earth’s continents or in the oceans. The world’s greatest conservation problem is not species extinction, but rather the precarious state of thousands of populations that are the remnants of once widespread and productive species.”

      • Javier says:

        We are not in the 6th mass extinction

        A scientific article was based on the idea that if we are in the midst of a mass extinction we should be seen the corpses, meaning that we should know the name of at least the mammals and birds that we are loosing every year, since we keep good track of them through the “Red List”, maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), which lists species which are either extinct or at risk of extinction, and the CREO list, from the Committee on Recently Extinct Organisms at the American Museum of Natural History.

        The conclusions are interesting and do not support the 6th mass extinction meme.

        Since 1500 we have lost 61 mammal species, 3 of them in continents and 58 in islands and Australia. And we have lost 129 bird species, 6 of them in continents and 126 in islands and Australia.

        The main cause of extinction appears to have been introduction of invasive species (including man) within island (or isolated Australia) ecosystems after millions of years of separation. It is thus unlikely to take place again in the foreseeable future.

        These extinctions took place with the expansion of Europeans in several rounds, peaking in 1900 and going down since.

        On the continents we have lost 3 mammal species out of 4,428, and 6 bird species out of 8,971.

        Rates of species loss is 0,2/year for mammals plus birds.

        This numbers do not support at all the idea that we are undergoing a mass extinction or about to start one. Of course one cannot talk about the future given the sorry state of wildlife communities all over the world.

        Historical bird and terrestrial mammal extinction rates and causes
        Diversity and Distributions, (2011) 1–8
        Craig Loehle and Willis Eschenbach

        • Apneaman says:

          Javier, you seem to be missing what these scientists are saying in their paper.

          Humans could be among the victims of sixth ‘mass extinction’, scientists warn

          “The world is embarking on its sixth mass extinction with animals disappearing about 100 times faster than they used to, scientists warn, and humans could be among the first victims of the next extinction event.”

          The study “shows without any significant doubt that we are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event,” co-author and Stanford University professor of biology Paul Ehrlich said.

          “And the study, which was published in the journal Science Advances on Friday and described by its authors as “conservative”, said humans were likely to be among the species lost.”

          “If it is allowed to continue, life would take many millions of years to recover and our species itself would likely disappear early on,” lead author Gerardo Ceballos of the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico said.”

          http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-20/sixth-mass-extinction-impact-humans-study-says/6560700

          “If it is allowed to continue”

          Yeah, it’s apparently being allowed to continue.

          • Javier says:

            Well Apneaman,

            The authors of the paper defend their thinking that the world is embarking in a 6th Mass Extinction, but they do not prove it. If we talk about the future anybody can have an opinion and of course a mass extinction could take place. But if we talk about the past and the present, which are the realms of science, the evidence is not there. We don’t know the current rate of extinction so we cannot say if it is enough to sustain a mass extinction. We track almost every mammal and bird species and their rate of extinction is only about 0.2 per year. Most years no mammal or bird species go extinct. So it does not feel at all as a mass extinction. That is why most scientists don’t believe a mass extinction is taking place.

            What is really shocking is the disconnect between science and the general public due to the negative influence of the MSM, even of things that anybody can check. Both the IUCN Red list and the CREO list can be queried by anybody. Go there and check by yourself how many mammal and bird species are we losing every year, and see if that rate can sustain a mass extinction.

            I can do the calculations for you:
            0.2/year = 20/century
            Number of mammals + birds species = 15372
            Time to extinct 75% at current rate 15372 x 0.75 / 20 = 576 centuries
            It would take 57 thousand years to cause a mass extinction of mammals and birds at current rates. Obviously in that time you get new species.

            This says nothing about the future, but it explains why most biologists don’t believe we are undergoing a mass extinction. Most biologists are concerned with habitat destruction and population numbers reduction, not extinctions. You are just being played by the MSM and some groups with an agenda, and some scientists are taking advantage to get so-so papers into prominent journals.

            Do we really need to believe in a 6th mass extinction to be good conservationists. I do not think so. We have to recover natural spaces everywhere with a much higher priority than worry about the last individuals of a particular species in a spot.

            • Dennis Coyne says:

              Hi Javier,

              Thanks. I am not familiar with the literature, so do not have an opinion on this (6th mass extinction.)

              I am not sure you agree with “the mainstream” in this case, as you often have a different point of view (such as climate change and economics.)

              In this case do you agree with the mainstream view about whether the 6th mass extinction has begun, or do you think we just don’t know so you are agnostic on the matter?

              • Javier says:

                Dennis, I think the mainstream view is reflected in the Nature editorial and article from the same issue that I linked above.

                You’ll have to agree that a Nature editorial is pretty good evidence of mainstream view. A lot better than a bunch of articles. The thing is that any biologist or geologist working on extinction has zero interest in publishing an article saying that we are not in the 6th mass extinction. It does not advance their research one iota. They don’t care what the general people think.

                The issue is being pushed by the MSM fueled by a few scientists opinion. Most people ignore the important point that scientists opinion does not constitute science. They believe that if a scientist gives an opinion it constitutes science. It does not.

                Everybody assumes that current extinction rate must necessarily be elevated. The evidence for a mass extinction is sorely lacking. Mass extinctions are pretty drastic stuff. We only recognize 5 in 2 billion years. Scientists are a cautious bunch. So far this does not look as a mass extinction. Nobody can speak about the future. At current rate we could cause a mass extinction in a few centuries to a few millennia, but obviously current rate is going to change. It better change to less.

                • Dennis Coyne says:

                  Hi Javier,

                  There are some that don’t trust what they read in Nature. I wasn’t sure if you were of that opinion, I am guessing that the piece you cited you felt reflected the mainstream view, for some reason Fred thinks differently and as I said my knowledge in this area is lacking.

            • Wake says:

              Well, non linear processes are non linear. In a way that is a central point of this blog

              And it is not at all obvious to me you get new species in 20 to 50k years to the extent you are suggesting

              And I am aware of ice ages

      • Valley of Silicon Observer says:

        Yay! Let’s hear it for not being sure if we’re in an extinction period or not!

      • Fred Magyar says:

        Most scientists do not believe that we are in a mass extinction, and those that do cannot demonstrate it because nobody knows what the extinction rate is now and what the extinction rate was in the past.

        Hmm, maybe you have a point. Nah, that’s bullshit!

        http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/5/e1400253.short

        Abstract

        The oft-repeated claim that Earth’s biota is entering a sixth “mass extinction” depends on clearly demonstrating that current extinction rates are far above the “background” rates prevailing between the five previous mass extinctions. Earlier estimates of extinction rates have been criticized for using assumptions that might overestimate the severity of the extinction crisis. We assess, using extremely conservative assumptions, whether human activities are causing a mass extinction. First, we use a recent estimate of a background rate of 2 mammal extinctions per 10,000 species per 100 years (that is, 2 E/MSY), which is twice as high as widely used previous estimates. We then compare this rate with the current rate of mammal and vertebrate extinctions. The latter is conservatively low because listing a species as extinct requires meeting stringent criteria. Even under our assumptions, which would tend to minimize evidence of an incipient mass extinction, the average rate of vertebrate species loss over the last century is up to 100 times higher than the background rate. Under the 2 E/MSY background rate, the number of species that have gone extinct in the last century would have taken, depending on the vertebrate taxon, between 800 and 10,000 years to disappear. These estimates reveal an exceptionally rapid loss of biodiversity over the last few centuries, indicating that a sixth mass extinction is already under way. Averting a dramatic decay of biodiversity and the subsequent loss of ecosystem services is still possible through intensified conservation efforts, but that window of opportunity is rapidly closing.

        • Javier says:

          You can trust that article or you can trust the Nature articles that I linked above which tell a very different story. No doubt some scientists believe we are in a mass extinction, but it is a belief because it cannot be demonstrated.

          First. Extinction is measured in the fossil record at the level of genre, because we have no way of telling species apart in the fossil record, and because the fossil record is too fragmentary. As a result comparing extinction rates in the past and in the present is an exercise in comparing two unknowns measured with different scales. Those estimates are pretty worthless to get such conclusions. A fact that most serious biologists recognize.

          Second. The present rate of mammal extinction that this paper defends is absurd. Even convolutedly worded, 100 times more than 2 mammal extinctions per 10,000 species per 100 years is 200 mammals per 10,000 species per century. With 5400 mammals that means we are losing 100 mammals per century (1 mammal per year). A cursory look at the list of extinct mammals for the past 500 years gives a total of 61 mammals, or 12 mammals per century, and actually 90% of those mammal extinctions took place on islands due to introduction of foreign species, something that is not sustainable and affects a small percentage of mammal species.

          So they use a rate of extinction that is at least 8 times higher than it should. No wonder that they get a mass extinction. I think the mass extinction of neurons is taking place within their heads.

          If you think that’s bullshit you can start by giving me the name of the 20 mammals that according to this article should have gone extinct in the last 20 years. Otherwise the bullshit is on you.

          • Apneaman says:

            Maybe you need to see them all dead and gone before you are convinced it’s well underway?

            Earth has lost half of its wildlife in the past 40 years, says WWF
            Species across land, rivers and seas decimated as humans kill for food in unsustainable numbers and destroy habitats

            “The number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years, according to a new analysis. Creatures across land, rivers and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats, the research by scientists at WWF and the Zoological Society of London found.”

            http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/29/earth-lost-50-wildlife-in-40-years-wwf

            • Javier says:

              Apneaman,

              You just changed the topic of the discussion from mass extinction to overexploitation and habitat destruction. I guess that is what one does when one cannot win the discussion. Either that or all is the same to you.

              I am a biologist and a conservationist. You don’t need to convince me about the need to preserve our biosphere. I’m 100% onto making every possible effort to protect the environment, but we need to do it based on good science, not unjustified alarmism.

          • Fred Magyar says:

            You can trust that article or you can trust the Nature articles that I linked above which tell a very different story. No doubt some scientists believe we are in a mass extinction, but it is a belief because it cannot be demonstrated.

            Ok fine! Let’s cherry pick among hundreds of scientific papers that claim we are indeed in a 6th Mass Extinction and go with Nature’s extremely cautious and conservative perspective. I’ll even grant you that they do say The recent loss of species is dramatic and serious but does not yet qualify as a mass extinction in the palaeontological sense of the Big Five.

            From the Nature Article!

            Our examination of existing data in these contexts raises two important points. First, the recent loss of species is dramatic and serious but does not yet qualify as a mass extinction in the palaeontological sense of the Big Five. In historic times we have actually lost only a few per cent of assessed species (though we have no way of knowing how many species we have lost that had never been described). It is encouraging that there is still much of the world’s biodiversity left to save, but daunting that doing so will require the reversal of many dire and escalating threats 7, 20, 61, 62, 63.

            The second point is particularly important. Even taking into account the difficulties of comparing the fossil and modern records, and applying conservative comparative methods that favour minimizing the differences between fossil and modern extinction metrics, there are clear indications that losing species now in the ‘critically endangered’ category would propel the world to a state of mass extinction that has previously been seen only five times in about 540million years. Additional losses of species in the ‘endangered’ and ‘vulnerable’ categories could accomplish the sixth mass extinction in just a few centuries. It may be of particular concern that this extinction trajectory would play out under conditions that resemble the ‘perfect storm’ that coincided with past mass extinctions: multiple, atypical high-intensity ecological stressors, including rapid, unusual climate change and highly elevated atmospheric CO . The huge difference between where we are now, and where we could easily be within a few generations, reveals the urgency of relieving the pressures that are pushing today’s species towards extinction.

            So whatever you wish to say this paper is certainly not giving us any reason for complacency! Furthermore there is a vast amount of work out there that does indeed support the idea that we are indeed already in the midst of The 6th Mass Extinction.

            Given your background I’m quite sure you can find those papers yourself.

            • Javier says:

              So whatever you wish to say this paper is certainly not giving us any reason for complacency!

              Of course not. We are a heavy burden on the environment and unless we change course we will certainly cause a mass extinction. We cannot continue appropriating more land and resources from natural spaces and we cannot continue reducing wild populations. The planet is as finite in his biological resources as in everything else, and we have to get to a level of exploitation below renewable rates. In my opinion this cannot be accomplished without a reduction in population. However these days one rarely hears the topic of overpopulation being discussed at a political level. The politic powers seem to have given up on that. It seems that the message is that if we fix the issue of CO2 everything is going to be fine, and surprisingly a lot of people are buying that line.

              Furthermore there is a vast amount of work out there that does indeed support the idea that we are indeed already in the midst of The 6th Mass Extinction.

              It is all opinion. There is no evidence. We are pushing in that direction and we all think that we are losing a lot more species than we should. But science is built only on facts, and facts are lacking to support that a 6th Mass Extinction is taking place. Of course the press has never cared about the facts and some scientists like to get the press attention to further their careers.

              • Dennis Coyne says:

                Hi Fred and Javier,

                Thank you for the intelligent discussion, you both know far more about this than me and I appreciate the education.

                It seems to me that you agree more than you disagree.

                Javier’s main point is that we do not want to resort to alarmism, claiming that there is a 6th mass extinction that has already begun, when the truth (from Javier’s perspective) is that a sixth mass extinction is very likely if human population is not reduced and habitat destruction is not abated.

                If we set aside the question of whether a sixth mass extinction has begun or not (and biologists seem to have different opinions on this), you seem to agree with each other on most other points.

                Javier is not particularly optimistic about future environmental destruction, he believes that this is an important problem that needs to be addressed.

  35. aws. says:

    Back in early 2012, the Premier of Ontario suggested that the loonie (Canadian dollar) was becoming a petro-dollar. He was slapped down by the Cons, and walked back his comment.

    “That has knocked the wind out of Ontario exporters and manufacturing in particular,” explained McGuinty.

    “The only reason the dollar is high — it’s a petro dollar, right? It’s been driven by the global demand for oil and gas to be sourced in Western Canada.

    “So if I had my preferences, as to whether we have a rapidly growing oil-and-gas sector in the West or a lower dollar benefiting Ontario, I’ll tell you where I’d stand — with the lower dollar.”

    Canadian Dollar’s Worst Rout Ever Raises Petro-State Worries

    Ari Altstedter, Bloomberg, January 4, 2016

    By the middle of 2014, oil’s share of Canada’s total exports reached 19 percent from about 6 percent a decade earlier. Meanwhile, the Ontario-based auto industry was seeing its share of the export pie fall to to 14 percent from 22 percent. The heavier reliance on crude became an issue in last October’s national election, as Harper and his Western-based Conservatives were accused by all their opponents of having favored oil to the detriment of other regions.

    In the process, the Canadian dollar had effectively joined the ranks of petro-currencies. The correlation between movements in the price of oil and the loonie has increased five-fold since 2000, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In 2015, while all commodity-exporting countries faced currency pressure, the Canadian dollar was more sensitive to oil price movements than such petro-states as Mexico, Norway and Russia.

    I don’t actually see low oil prices re-balanacing the Canadian economy. The cure for low oil prices is low oil prices. Would you invest in an export dependent industry in Canada? One can reasonably model a scenario where the price of oil goes up to $100/barrel, the loonie returns to parity with the greenback… and an exporters competitiveness disappears with our petro-loonie’s parity with the U.S. dollar.

    Being a petro-state makes for a pretty ugly domestic economy.

    • Paulo says:

      AWS (and Ron)

      I believe the decline will bring us Canadians back to our roots and strengths. Personally, I have been disgusted with our past 30 year transformation into urban consumers, no matter what part of the country we live in.

      I remember my Grandparents playing penny poker on winter evenings. I grew up with stories of the Depression. While I am 60, my good friend down the road is 75. He often tells me about living in our Valley from ’46 onwards…..a time of bailing water from the river into a 45 for home supply, canned venison and salmon for winter, oil lamps because Hydro did not arrive until the latter ’60s. His Dad built up a sawmill and his folks provided room and board for ‘the crew’. His mom washed their clothing by hand on Saturdays and finally got a gas powered ringer washer to make it easier. Nowadays, he scrounges scrap steel (old bedframes and the like) from the recycling bins for our welding projects. He helps me make up power saw chains from scraps and pieces. His motto (which he shares with me every other day), is, “Never throw anything away”. And damned if he can’t find exactly what I need when I come over to scrounge at what I call, “Our Store”.

      I don’t know what will happen to the Vancouverites or Torontonians when property values dive. I imagine that many will lose everything they think they have, (when their debt bomb blows). I guess then we will see what people are made of. Will they whine? Or will they pick themselves up and make the best of it?

      As for Ron’s post, it is similar to one last year. I could hardly read that one as well. Yes, there are deserts and sewers made by man, and that will be the best that many can hope for. But what is your sphere of influence and power to change things? I have replanted several thousand trees on our property and let most of it regen into a bramble-filled mixed forest. I have put in a pond that trout have found from the drainage ditches and flooded wetlands next door. I have cut trails for deer and elk crossing routes. We grow our gardens without pesticides and with as much compost as possible. We wear our clothes out and watch what we buy. We don’t travel by air, and limit trips to local visits with family. In the future, perhaps this will be the norm for most instead of today’s extravagent consumption which is thought of as normal for Canadians and a birthright.

      Ron, the facts are glum. Your story is true. I accept that. What I don’t accept is allowing it to bring me down and giving up….on myself, my loved ones, and my people. Perhaps as a group, as a species, it seems as if we never learn and make the same and even greater mistakes over and over. But as individuals we can try to do things better, live better; until we can’t go on. That is my plan, and I am sticking with it until I can’t go on.

      I am teaching myself to play the banjo. (My blessed wife is so so patient). Today, the weather was cold and foggy, my lumber is frozen into ice lumps, and I was quite house bound being sick of crunching around my frozen yard trying to be productive. So, the banjo prevailed and damned if it isn’t getting better. I am well on the way to mastering (to use that term loosely) an Iris Dement version of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”, “I can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash, and “I Believe In You” by Don Williams. I think I have sub-conciously chosen these songs to combat my own confessions of doom and gloom. Sometimes, it is all we have. For you post readers, I will provide the Youtube links for a pick-me-up. A nice glass of whiskey makes for a good listening partner.

      regards and thanks for your heartfelt honesty and efforts

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGbxrNqK4-4
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSsqWHtg7Ig
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Biz5kBIAtic

  36. Jimmy says:

    I tend to agree with Ron, however I feel I might be a tad more pessimistic.
    I suspect a Peak Oil-Climate Change combo punch is going to take humanity down hard and fast. Famine does a quick job. Some will die in place, like most of India, but many will try walking out to a place they perceive as being better, like most of the people in MENA hoofing it to Europe. Unregulated mass migration will become a fight. A fight to keep them out vs a fight to get in. It’s gonna get very very ugly. Methane hydrates in the ESAS could rather easily release to the atmosphere pushing GHG concentrations even higher than our worst predictions. I believe The North Pole hit plus 2 degrees C on December 30, 2015. Any anthropologist will tell you that people steal before they starve. I predict that by 2025 we’ll be well into a world that very closely resembles 13 century England.

    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Hi Jimmy,

      If oil resources and other fossil fuel resources are as scarce as many here seem to believe, then climate change is not likely to be all that bad (if equilibrium climate sensitivity is 3 C or less per doubling of atmospheric CO2 levels). At the low levels of fossil fuels that many peak oil people believe, atmospheric CO2 will remain under 500 ppm. That level of CO2 corresponds with a temperature rise of 1.7 C above preindustrial temperature (before 1750). Most main stream climate scientists (like the folks at Real Climate) do not think the methane hydrates will be an issue.

      Now if we have resources of fossil fuels consistent with the USGS World estimate for oil and natural gas and the World Energy Council’s estimates for coal ( https://www.worldenergy.org/data/resources/resource/coal/ )
      then peak fossil fuels is less likely to be a problem (at least in the next 30 years), but climate change is more likely to be a problem.

      The worst case scenario is a medium amount of fossil fuel resources (just enough to make climate change a problem, assuming 2 C or more above preindustrial temperatures is a problem) and an equilibrium climate sensitivity slightly above the mainstream mean estimate (say 4 C of warming for a doubling of atmospheric CO2). Under that scenario we get atmospheric CO2 to about 520 ppm and temperatures rise to 2.5 C above pre-industrial temperatures and fossil fuels peak around 2020 to 2030, so both peak fossil fuels and climate change are a problem in that scenario.

      The solution is reduced human population and the development of wind and solar power so that much of the fossil fuel resource is never extracted. Reduction of coal extraction is most important, then oil, and lastly natural gas because the carbon emissions per unit of energy is highest for coal and lowest for natural gas.

  37. Sydney Mike says:

    I spend a lot of time in Ethiopia, Africa. Humanity and coffee originated here. A large part of their agriculture is still done with oxen plowing the fields. A public taxi in a rural town can still be horse and cart. Donkeys carry cement to building sites.

    And then there are the do-gooders. Those damned NGO’s (charities) that see it as their first mission to buy Toyota Landcruisers to ensure their pompous leaders can be carried in perfect comfort from one five star conference to another to discuss some project in the way waste societies do business. These people are completely blind to the fact that they are destroying what are in all likelihood man’s oldest civilizations. They are not the ones who build the biggest castles or created the most exquisite art. But they are the oldest. That means they know a thing or two about survival.

    So you might be forgiven for assuming that people come here to LEARN and see how the small fraction of humanity that will survive, may actually go about doing that. Instead, they introduce “development”. That is of course another term for burning fossil fuels.

    Whatever “un-developed” pockets of humanity manage to survive will be among the leaders when oil man finally goes extinct.

    • Joe Clarkson says:

      Exactly!

      We are so “development-centric” that we think the whole world revolves around us. When the global market economy collapses and the great die-off begins, there will still be large numbers of people who won’t even notice. They are the ones leading lives of true sustainability and resilience.

      We could learn a great deal from those people who provide almost everything they need from within their own little plot of land or community commons, but even if we do, it would be hard to put most of it into practice in the developed world. Too much of what we do is intermediated with money. To live without money requires what most would call an outlaw lifestyle. Any family that tried it in the US would have their children taken away by government agencies.

      Once governments disappear there will be no difference between what is now the developed world and the undeveloped world, except that people in what is now the undeveloped world will be better off.

    • wimbi says:

      Sidney. Exactly what I got from time spent in villages in south Asia.

  38. Bloomingdave says:

    Hi Ron,

    I tend to think that you are correct. We are on a trajectory that spells the end to most complex life on the planet, including ourselves. I’ve looked at this carefully for the past several decades, and have background in ecology. Everything that I see unfolding confirms what I have feared for nearly 40 years.
    I expect that once the decline in energy and resources begins in earnest, nation states will be in a severe dilemma of competition from abroad, as well as social unrest at home. Civil liberties will be curtailed, as the velvet glove comes off, revealing the iron fist.
    A possible scenario will be for elites to reduce the population in some fashion, and quickly. We may then enter the “plague years.” I’m quite certain that the rationale will be, ironically, to limit human suffering (not that that knowledge will be shared).
    Of course, there are numerous ways that the “bottleneck” will play out, none very pleasant.

    And so it goes for a species that cannot recognize the implications of assuming infinite growth on a finite planet. If things may be turned around, it will have to occur on a monumental scale, as the window is nearly closed.

  39. R Walter says:

    There were 60 million buffalo roaming the Great Plains, then Buffalo Bill Cody grabbed a Sharps 50 caliber and started shooting. Made room for cattle which now use that grass biome to eat and moo.

    The carrying capacity for buffalo remained the same, cattle now utilize it. 60 million cattle on the Great Plains won’t be too many. The Happy Hunting Grounds are restocked, hay crops increase the carrying capacity of those grasslands.

    That’s a wash. The buffalo were thought to be gone, hunted to extinction, but a small herd was discovered somewhere in Montana. Humans had enough brains not to kill them all, buffalo have made a comeback thanks to the efforts by man to help them survive. Now you can buy buffalo steaks and the ground meat. Man does go the extra mile to help other species. Benefits both man and beast.

    Seed buffalo over to Siberia, they just might thrive there too and the species could grow to 60 million over there. They at least deserve a new chance.

    There is hope.

    Humans are in the overshoot phase, that’s for sure. The Grim Reaper will have a hey day someday, but he’ll let you know when the time comes. You are on a need to know basis only.

    God is a comedian who plays to an audience too afraid to laugh quipped Voltaire.

    Count your blessings.

  40. oldfarmermac says:

    “A possible scenario will be for elites to reduce the population in some fashion, and quickly”

    Reality is a harsh mistress. The really poor people of the world who still live in rural areas, such as the backwoods of India, will either survive as they always have, or die of starvation, violence, and disease in place.

    In terms of understanding what will become of humanity in the near to mid term, this means they hardly matter, except from the moral and ethical point of view.

    At the opposite extreme, we can either win or lose, in spectacular fashion.I personally believe some of us will win, but that most of us will lose.

    I am only an armchair historian, but my opinion, for what it is worth, is that Leviathans, nation states, do EVENTUALLY bestir themselves, when they recognize that they are faced with potentially catastrophic problems, and do SOMETHING, even if that something is often wrong……..

    There is NO DOUBT in my mind that we are going to be experiencing a series of what I refer to as Pearl Harbor Wake Up Events over the coming years. What form they take, how fast they arrive, whether they are sufficiently serious to get our attention without disabling us beyond our ability to react, etc, are all matters of chance and cannot be predicted except in a general way, to say that they ARE coming.

    Consider the effect on oil markets that a hot war between major powers would have. Tankers might not leave port for months and then only under escort by naval ships. Or the major sea side infrastructure used to load oil might be bombed into fire twisted scrap metal. One predictable consequence of such a scenario is that countries dependent on imported oil would get SERIOUSLY to work on reducing their dependency on imported oil and gas.

    Somebody will eventually release a genetically engineered disease that wipes out ( many or most ) humans, or a major crop or a species of domesticated animal.If somebody does not, Mother Nature eventually WILL. After suffering the consequences, the countries that are able will start doing things to prevent against a second occurrence……….. and doing them on a wartime footing.

    Somebody might even invent a drug ( poison? ) that renders men sterile, or women sterile, or engineer a sneaky contagious disease with the same effect. If it were deliberately widely dispersed, and slow to act, so as to allow it time to spread undetected, it might infect entire countries to such an extent that over population would cease to be a problem.

    A modern day nation state going on a war time economic footing, expending its resources on solving DOMESTIC problems, could sure as hell SOLVE some problems, and alleviate a lot of others to the point they do not threaten the peace and tranquillity of the country.

    Change for the better, in some parts of the world, on the grand scale, is not entirely out of the question.

    • Strummer says:

      “Consider the effect on oil markets that a hot war between major powers would have”

      All the major powers are also nuclear, which (thankfully) means that there won’t be any hot war between them anymore.

      • oldfarmermac says:

        I hope you are right, but that is what they said about machine guns after WWI.

    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Hi Old Farmer Mac,

      Feeling pretty optimistic I guess, is the sun shining?

      Population will eventually peak and then fall, possibly faster than the low fertility scenario proposed by the UN, Total fertility ratios have fallen from 5 to 2.5 in 45 years (to 2010), if that trend continues to 2055 the TFR would fall to 1.25 for the World, if TFR remained at that level world population would fall to 5.5 billion by 2100, to 1 billion by 2200 (assuming average World life expectancy rises to 90, increasing from 2010 levels by 2 years per decade and remaining constant once reaching 90 in each individual nation).

      If my medium estimates for fossil fuel resources are correct output from fossil fuels will decline at 2% per year or less and as the price of fossil fuels rises and wind and solar power get cheaper the fossil fuels can gradually be replaced. For other resources (minerals and water) scarcity will increase prices and the resource will be used more efficiently and recycled where possible, in some cases substitutes will be used (aluminum for copper), though fresh water obviously has no substitute, but it surely won’t be wasted watering lawns or flushing toilets as it becomes more scarce and expensive.

  41. sean says:

    Pretty misanthropic stuff.

    In Ireland where I am from, the population is still less now than in 1850.

    As regards animals and rainforests, there is an existential concern but in truth all of western europe has been dessicated of forestry and animals, nevertheless people get on OK.

    It would be awful to see all wild animal life killed but it’s pretty unlikely to happen. India is incredibly populous but still teems with animal life.

    I personally hate when humans complain about there being too many humans. Richard Attenborough springs to mind.

    • Valley of Silicon Observer says:

      And are you not aware of what happened just prior to 1850 that put the brakes on Irish population growth? Of course you are. And Ireland has been exporting population ever since. When the great hunger extends to all the world, where will people go?

      • Doug Leighton says:

        “In forty years I have lost, through the operation of no natural law, more than Three Million of my Sons and Daughters, and they, the Young and the Strong, leaving behind the Old and Infirm to weep and to die. Where is this to end?” The Irish Famine.

        • Fred Magyar says:

          I personally hate when humans complain about there being too many humans…

          Say Sean, Séamus, Erin and Colleen!

    • Doug Leighton says:

      “I personally hate when humans complain about there being too many humans.”

      Well, I personally hate when people are too stupid to realize that our planet contains far too many humans.

      • Arceus says:

        >>“I personally hate when humans complain about there being too many humans.”

        >>>>Well, I personally hate when people are too stupid to realize that our planet contains far too many humans.

        To complain about there being too many humans seems unproductive and contradictory. The only way to resolve your unhappiness would be to have no children and die as quickly as possible or alternatively to remove as many of the humans from the planet as possible.

        Your only two options to improve the situation seem fairly unpleasant.

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          There is a third option which is for humans to have 1 child per couple, this combined with the occasional two child family and those families that have no children due to infertility or personal choice, would reduce human population to reasonable size. For 3 billion people on the planet (about half of the World population excluding China) the TFR is currently under 1.67 births per woman.
          For 2 billion (in the lowest TFR countries) people the TFR is about 1.55 births per woman, and for 1 billion people the TFR is about 1.4 births per woman. Calculated using UN estimates for TFR.

    • Pretty misanthropic stuff.

      BULLSHIT! Telling the truth about what is happening to the world is not misanthropic and only a blooming idiot would believe it is.

      In Ireland where I am from, the population is still less now than in 1850.

      And just what is that supposed to prove? Ireland is not the world.

      As regards animals and rainforests, there is an existential concern but in truth all of western europe has been dessicated of forestry and animals, nevertheless people get on OK.

      Of course people currently get on OK. That is the point. We are killing off all the animals to make room for more humans.

      It would be awful to see all wild animal life killed but it’s pretty unlikely to happen. India is incredibly populous but still teems with animal life.

      And the bullshit just keeps getting deeper. India has only a very tiny fraction of the animal life that it once had. And that will soon be gone. The Bengal Tiger will soon be extinct. Even the vultures are disappearing from India.

      I personally hate when humans complain about there being too many humans. Richard Attenborough springs to mind.

      Oh you hate it do you? You had rather someone tell you that there are way too few humans. I think you find logical thinking far too great a burden to be bothered with.

    • Stu from New Jersey says:

      Logic is logic. It’s not misanthropic. The chart suggesting that there is a carrying capacity for the biomass of macro fauna introduces a notion that should not be simply wished away. Doing so is intellectual sloth AND cowardice.

      My own loyalty is more toward our species than individuals, and I’m afraid that our worship of the worth of the individual is what puts our species in jeopardy.

      That said, extinction is a pretty big word, and professed belief in our near-term extinction (which I run into sometime in conversations with very young people) is simply a way of avoiding the adjustments that will need to be made in the (probably) very long dark age ahead. (I.e., “we’re all going to die anyway, so I’ll continue partying instead of learning how to do something practical and/or remotely sustainable”.)

  42. Valley of Silicon Observer says:

    Arctic sea ice extent is at it’s lowest ever for this time of year. This summer could be a historic low. Just one more nail in the coffin. But I have a 15 year old son. How do I talk to him about his future? He will consume resources and probably reproduce like almost every other human being. That is what we are programmed to do. But his options will be defined by a world of declining resources and opportunities. It will be very different from the world I faced at his age. How do I talk to my wife about our son’s future? Do I want her to be depressed every day of her life as I am prone to be? I have read all the books and it’s obvious where this is all headed. Only the precise timing remains unknown. Having opened my eyes to the inevitable, I now choose to close them and live one day at a time. What other choice do I have?

    • Javier says:

      Nah, don’t get too worked up.

      Arctic sea ice is not very much different at this time from any year of the present decade, which is good news considering that we are undergoing a strong El Niño. It means it is not affecting Arctic sea ice that much.

      Arctic sea ice reached a minimum in 2012 and has been growing since. Once this El Niño is over by about 2017, Arctic sea ice will go back to growing.

      • Jef says:

        Again with your ignorance.

        That is a measure of first year ice which freezes every year and it is robust because of lower salinity melt water.

        Multiyear ice, the ice that matters, is almost gone.

        https://www.skepticalscience.com/Has-Arctic-sea-ice-recovered.htm

        • Multiyear ice is doing fine, the ice mass is recovering, so is thickness. Go to my blog and touch the squirrel. Or go to the Danish Metereological Institute site.

        • Javier says:

          Jef you are just an ignorant troll incapable of showing the minimum respect to participate in an adult discussion.

          Your sources are not to be trusted. That is an alarmist site that will not mind lying to you to convince you.

          Why don’t you look for a trusted source like NSIDC?

          See what they have to say about your multiyear ice:

          “Satellite data on ice age reveal that multiyear ice within the Arctic basin increased from 2.25 to 3.17 million square kilometers (869,000 to 1,220,000 square miles) between the end of February in 2013 and 2014. This winter the multiyear ice makes up 43% of the icepack compared to only 30% in 2013.”

          Multiyear ice is growing from the minimum of 2012 as the rest of the Arctic sea ice. There is more sea ice in the Arctic multiyear or any kind than in 2007. That’s 9 years.

      • From Jef’s link. The trend is undeniable. Except for professional deniers of course.

        • Javier says:

          The trend is undeniable, Ron, but it is only a 30 year trend.
          I don’t know if you know about the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) and how it is related to Arctic Sea Ice.
          AMO displays a 60 year cycle, and during the last 30 years water temperatures in the Atlantic have been on the rise. This is the period that coincides with satellite observations of sea ice. But a few years ago AMO changed course and since about 2007 the Atlantic is cooling and may do so for the next 25 years. It is possible that that trend that you are pointing has changed in 2012 and we may see a recovery in Arctic sea ice.

          There is already scientific literature pointing out that possibility:

          A signal of persistent Atlantic multidecadal
          variability in Arctic sea ice

          M.W. Miles et al. 2014. Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, 463–469.

          “We establish a signal of pervasive and persistent multidecadal (~60–90 year) fluctuations… Covariability between sea ice and Atlantic multidecadal variability as represented by the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) index is evident during the instrumental record. This observational evidence supports recent modeling studies that have suggested that Arctic sea ice is intrinsically linked to Atlantic multidecadal variability.
          Given the demonstrated covariability between sea ice and the AMO, it follows that a change to a negative AMO phase in the coming decade(s) could —to some degree— temporarily ameliorate the strongly negative recent sea-ice trends.”

          Let’s not forget that alarmist predictions seldom come true:

          Arctic sea ice ‘to melt by 2015’
          “Arctic sea ice could completely melt away by the summer of 2015, destroying the natural habitat of animals like polar bears, one of Britain’s leading ocean experts has claimed.”

          So I do not deny the trend. I just say that it is very likely that trend is not going to continue the way you think it is going to continue.

          In this figure I have overlaid the AMO, and the Arctic sea ice volume trend from PIOMAS (updated to december 2015) that you put in that graph. Don’t be surprised if in 3 years time you see Arctic sea ice growing again (after current El Niño). At least you have been told in advance.

      • Valley of Silicon Observer says:

        Javier,

        If you’re going to post an image at least post the correct one.

        http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/files/2016/01/Figure21.png

        Arctic sea ice extent as of January is at the lowest point of all the years presented on the graph — that is since 1981. And it is more than 2 standard deviations below the 1981 – 2010 average.

        But, hey, why get worked up? What could possibly go wrong? Anyway, what you think or what I think matters not a whit. Even if you were intelligent enough to be alarmed at the trend, the world is not going to change, people are not going to stop consuming every resource they can while continuing to reproduce even further into overshoot.

        So, live it up. Post your interpretations and opinions. It’s our sons and daughter, not us, who will have to live with the result.

        • Javier says:

          What do you mean by the correct one observer? Mine is the official graph from the Greenland Climate Research Center of the Danish Meteorological Institute:
          http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/icecover.uk.php
          These guys from Greenland know a thing or two about Arctic ice too.

          So, are you going to get really really worried because for a short period during a very warm El Niño year the Arctic sea ice is showing less winter growth for about 0.2 million square km out of 12 million (1.7% less ice)?

          Suit yourself, but it is easy to predict that in two years time, during a La Niña year that is likely to take place you are very likely to get quite a lot more Arctic sea ice.

          Don’t sweat too much on this. All the dire predictions about Arctic sea ice melting by Al Gore and company have already failed.

      • The correct one.

        • The data shows the ice is “healthier” now than in 2012 and 2013. The extent is on the low side because the Barents is almost completely clear (there’s a lot of warm water coming in from the Atlantic). But once we move away from the Barents the ice is there, and it’s thicker than in previous years.

          The ice serves two purposes: 1. It reflects incoming sun light (but right now the Arctic is in the dark) and 2. It serves as a barrier between relatively warm sea water and frigid air.

          The barrier isn’t present in the Barents, so the water is cooling down but the air warms up. This leads to more evaporation, and more precipitation. Therefore what we probably should expect is more snow fall on adjoining land masses as well as the existing sea ice. This in turn leads to a better ice extent in the summer, when the sunlight does reach the surface. This what seems to be happening is a negative feedback to the global warming effect. Interesting, isn’t it?

    • Joe Clarkson says:

      Prepare for the future to come!

      Go to the country and learn how to grow food and manage water. Use what money you have now to prepare for life without it. Preparation may only increase your family’s odds of survival to 20%, but that is more than twenty times better than the odds of those in any modern city.

      You will still have to tolerate a lot of your own “hypocritical” behavior when you start preparing and there is what will seem to be an insurmountable and never-ending learning curve, but gradual progress has definite psychological rewards. Acting responsibly for the future of your family, even in the face of derision from others, is also very rewarding. I highly recommend it.

      You might also be surprised to find others who are very understanding of your preparations even if they lead more conventional rural lives. Most people still have admiration for those folks from earlier times who led lives of rugged independence on the frontier. Ignore those who think you are foolish to even attempt survival.

      In many ways we are all novices on the frontier of collapse, so don’t worry about it. A truly sincere novice very often gets freely offered and valuable advice from those with more experience. There are always those with more experience, so don’t be afraid to ask questions, but evaluate advice against the perspective of living without money or support from anyone except your closest neighbors.

      Doing something really productive is great therapy for despondence. Despair over our fate, especially in light of what it might have been, will never go away, but remember, as Camus said, “The struggle itself […] is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” If Sisyphus could be happy in the face of an insurmountable struggle, so can you. I certainly am.

      • wimbi says:

        Hey Joe, you said what I say, except that about Sisyphus maybe. He didn’t vary his approach. When what I try fails again, I try another way.

        So what specifically do you do to keep up the spirit?

        • Joe Clarkson says:

          I live on a small, 16 acre, parcel in Hawaii. I experiment with a variety of orchard trees, vegetable gardens, and staple foods (mostly taro and lamb). My goal is to be able to produce 100% of the calories needed for about eight people even though my wife and I are the only permanent residents now. All this with minimal (hopefully zero) outside inputs. I hope to be prepared for an influx of adult children and their families if they find the need to come home from the mainland. In the meantime I sell surplus food to a neighbor woman who resells it at farmer’s markets.

          Even though I am 67, my activities are based on a 50 year planning period (fences, roofs, water piping; all must last that long at least). Even though we have lived without electricity for many years, it can provide a huge labor saving, especially for those of us who are elderly, so I hope to be able to keep our off-grid power system going long after the utility grids are dark. This will take a lot of preparation, but I’ve had a lot of practice; we’ve been off-grid for all but 7 years since we graduated from college in 1970. The only outside utility we have is the phone line that brings us DSL service.

          We are financially OK, with no debt and adequate retirement funds. Even though we are very conservative (tax free munis, TIPS, cash), I expect to see most of that vaporize in coming financial crises. We try to spend as much as possible on hard, productive assets (no gold or silver included) without wasting it. I would like to buy some more adjacent pasture land, but the parcel we want has been in the owner’s family for generations and it’s not for sale.

          Even though I may not live to see the use of our property as a true “lifeboat”, it is reassuring to know that it is mostly constructed. If my family can’t make use of it after I’m gone, someone will. It’s fun working on it in the meantime, even though it’s a lot of work; not quite Sisyphean (lots of variety), but plenty.

          • wimbi says:

            Thanks for the excellent reply!

            I am trying to help glue together a web of like people before my departure. I am more than a couple of decades older than you and well within the sharp tip of my flight envelope

            • Joe Clarkson says:

              Wow! I can only hope to be as sharp as you, if and when I approach 90!

              Don’t you live in Hawaii too? Somehow I got that impression, but I may be wrong.

              • wimbi says:

                Western hills of Appalachia. Lots of old guys around here know a lot more about survival than I do.

                And, most fortunately, lots of really good young ones coming up who I am glad to boost on their takeoff with my gains from living thru the oilorgyera.

                We are having a big meeting this month on how best to do it

  43. OPEC crude drops to $27.85, lowest since 2003

    The basket of crude oil used as a benchmark indicator by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, dropped to $27.85 a barrel, its lowest value since 2003, the OPEC Secretariat said on Friday.

    OPEC said the price of its basket, which includes 12 varieties of crude, declined by 6.26 percent on Thursday, compared with the closing price of the previous session.

    The price of OPEC black gold started to sink massively early last year due to the group’s decision to maintain its production level despite the oversupply in the market.

    WTI closed at $33.16 Friday while Brent closed at $33.55

  44. Jeffrey J. Brown says:

    Following is a link to and an excerpt from a rather unusual (for the WSJ) article on oil supplies and price. While I agree with the analysis, as usual the reporters are pretty loose with their definition of crude oil, in one place referring to Crude + Condensate (C+C) as “Crude oil” and in another place equating total liquids to actual crude oil.

    As I frequently point out, when we ask for the price of oil, we usually get the price of either Brent or WTI, which both have average API gravities in the high 30’s (and the upper limit for WTI crude is 42 API).

    However, when we ask for the quantity of oil, we get some combination of Crude + Condensate + Natural Gas Liquids (NGL) + Biofuels + Refinery Gains (and of course, the sum of the foregoing is defined as Total Liquids Supply).

    When reading the following article, I think that it’s important to remember that the available data strongly suggest that trillions of dollars of upstream capex (on global oil & gas projects) since 2005 have in all likelihood only been sufficient to keep us on a post-2005 “Undulating Plateau” in actual global crude oil production (45 API gravity and lower crude oil).

    So what happens to actual global crude oil production, i.e., the stuff corresponding to the principal global oil price indexes, given the large and ongoing cutbacks in global upstream capex?

    WSJ: From Oil Glut to Shortage? Some Say It Could Happen (12/30/15)
    The price rout has caused oil companies to cut deeply into investment
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/from-oil-glut-to-shortage-some-say-it-could-happen-1451499384

    Excerpt:

    With the world awash in crude, the oil industry is contemplating a new problem the oversupply could tee up: an oil shortage.

    As the oil glut has sent prices to decade lows, plummeting investment by oil-producing countries such as Venezuela and Russia and oil drillers such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC means fewer barrels will be produced.

    That could leave the world in exactly the opposite situation as now: short of oil and willing to pay more to get it.

    This may herald the beginning of a cycle that other commodities, from gold to copper, find more familiar—a cycle in which a glut leads to lower prices that lead to investment cuts, which chokes supply and prompts the price gains that lead to renewed expansion and future gluts.

    “A big gap is forming in oil-industry investment,” Claudio Descalzi, chief executive of Italian energy company Eni SpA, recently told reporters. “That will lead in two to three years to an imbalance between supply and demand that will push prices higher.”

    This year, global exploration-and-production investments will fall by $170 billion, or 20%, according to Rystad Energy. If international oil prices average $50 a barrel next year—a level many analysts said appears optimistic—investment could fall by one-fifth in 2016, the Oslo-based energy consulting firm estimates.

    That would be the first time the industry has registered two consecutive years of investment declines in 30 years, according to the International Energy Agency, a global industry monitor. . . .

    “The stage is set for a supply crunch down the line,” Mr. Mahesh said. “Supply from existing fields will fall, while new projects won’t come online to replace them.” Barclays sees Brent reaching $85 a barrel by 2020, while others see the potential for an even steeper rise.

    “You could see prices shooting up from $30 to $100 pretty quickly,” said Iain Reid, head of European oil and gas at Macquarie bank. “At some point the chickens will come home to roost.”

    Following are links to three key charts.

    Sulphur Content Vs. API Gravity for 16 Global Crude Oils

    http://i1095.photobucket.com/albums/i475/westexas/APGravityVsSulfurContentforCrudeOils_zpsc28e149c.gif

    Note that the upper average API Gravity cutoff for 16 key global crude oils on this chart, including Brent & WTI, is 40 API.

    Refinery Yields by Crude Type:

    http://i1095.photobucket.com/albums/i475/westexas/Refineryyields_zps4ad928eb.png

    Based on the above chart, note that Cat Feed + Distillate Content falls from about 55% at 39 API Gravity to only about 20% at 42 API Gravity

    US 2015 Lower 48 Crude + Condensate (C+C) Production by API Gravity (EIA):

    http://i1095.photobucket.com/albums/i475/westexas/US%20CC%20Lower%2048%20Production%20by%20API_zpsrpbg7lko.png

    Based on the EIA data, note that 22% of US Lower 48 C+C production is classified as condensate (45+ API), about 40% of US Lower 48 C+C production is too high to be sold as WTI crude oil (greater than 42 API) and 50% of US Lower 48 C+C production exceeds the upper average API gravity for 16 global crude oils on the above chart.

    • Also from the WSJ article:

      Tudor, Pickering & Holt, an energy-focused investment bank, has tallied 150 projects that have been delayed, resulting in an estimated 13 million barrels a day of oil production deferred indefinitely. That is equal to 15% of total global output.

      A chunk of the deferred oil—20%—comes from projects in Canada’s oil-sands deposits, where extracting crude is particularly expensive. Arctic production and complicated deep-water projects in the Gulf of Mexico and Africa have also suffered, according to Tudor Pickering.

      13 million barrels per day is a lot of oil to come off the market.

      In countries such as Venezuela, Mexico, Nigeria and Algeria, producers are putting off projects needed to reverse the natural depletion that oil fields experience over time. The industry’s average decline rate—the speed that output falls without field maintenance or new drilling—usually runs between 3% and 4% annually. That has nearly doubled this year, estimates Miswin Mahesh, an oil analyst at Barclays PLC.

      So they are now declining by from 6% and 8% annually. I think the drop in production will be a lot steeper than most people expect.

      • BC says:

        Consider that had US oil production continued growing after 1970 and 1985 at the rates from the early 20th century, the US would today be producing respectively 70 and 31Mbd.

        It’s not a coincidence that US industrialization peaked in the 1970s with the peak in US oil production per capita, the US$ being removed from gold, and deindustrialization and financialization thereafter ensued, resulting in unprecedented debt to wages and GDP; successively larger commodity and financial asset bubbles and financial crises; total local, state, and federal gov’t spending as a share of GDP at the level of WW II; a record low for labor share of GDP; Gilded Age-like income and wealth inequality; and half or more of the US population as beneficiaries of one or more gov’t assistance programs.

        Now with respect to global oil production per capita, the world is where the US was in the late 1970s to early 1980s, only this time global debt to wages and GDP is unprecedented (unlike in the early 1980s when it was much lower). Therefore, the world cannot expect another debt-induced, reflationary growth regime and financialization to grow out of the structural constraints imposed by peak industrialization, Peak Oil, and LTG.

    • Jeffrey J. Brown says:

      Following is a missive that I sent to some oil & gas industry guys, incorporating some items that have been posted on POB:

      Just as the conventional wisdom was wrong about the previous outlook for oil prices (looking forward from early 2014), it’s quite likely that the new conventional wisdom outlook (for perpetually low oil prices) is similarly wrong (looking forward from early 2016), especially given what I’m calling The Great Condensate Con.

      The Great Condensate Con?

      We have seen a large year over year increase in US and global Crude + Condensate (C+C) inventories. For example, EIA data show that US C+C inventories increased by 100 million barrels from late 2014 to late 2015, and this inventory build has contributed significantly to the sharp decline in oil prices.

      The question is, what percentage of the increase in US and global C+C inventories consists of condensate?

      Four week running average data showed the US net crude oil imports for the last four weeks of December increased from 6.9 million bpd in 2014 to 7.3 million bpd in 2015. Why would US refiners continue to import large–and increasing–volumes of actual crude oil, if they didn’t have to, even as we saw a huge build in US C+C inventories? Note that what the EIA calls “Crude oil” is actually C+C.

      I frequently cite a Reuters article that discussed case histories of refiners increasingly rejecting blends of heavy crude and condensate that technically meet the upper limit for WTI crude (42 API gravity), but that are deficient in distillates. Of course, what the refiners are rejecting is the condensate component, i.e., they are in effect saying that “We don’t want any more stinkin’ condensate.” Following is an excerpt from the article:

      U.S. refiners turn to tanker trucks to avoid ‘dumbbell’ crudes (March, 2015)

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/23/us-usa-refiners-trucks-analysis-idUSKBN0MJ09520150323

      In a pressing quest to secure the best possible crude, U.S. refiners are increasingly going straight to the source.

      Firms such as Marathon Petroleum Corp and Delek U.S. Holdings are buying up tanker trucks and extending local pipeline networks in order to get more oil directly from the wellhead, seeking to cut back on blended crude cocktails they say can leave a foul aftertaste. . . .

      Many executives say that the crude oil blends being created in Cushing are often substandard approximations of West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the longstanding U.S. benchmark familiar to, and favored by, many refiners in the region.

      Typical light-sweet WTI crude has an API gravity of about 38 to 40. Condensate, or super-light crude that is abundant in most U.S. shale patches, ranges from 45 to 60 or higher. Western Canadian Select, itself a blend, is about 20.

      While the blends of these crudes may technically meet the API gravity ceiling of 42 at Cushing, industry players say the mixes can be inconsistent in makeup and generate less income because the most desirable stuff is often missing.

      The blends tend to produce a higher proportion of fuel at two ends of the spectrum: light ends like gasoline, demand for which has dimmed in recent years, and lower-value heavy products like fuel oil and asphalt. What’s missing are middle distillates like diesel, where growing demand and profitability lies.

      My premise is that US (and perhaps global) refiners hit, late in 2014, the upper limit of the volume of condensate that they could process, if they wanted to maintain their distillate and heavier output–resulting in a build in condensate inventories, reflected as a year over year build of 100 million barrels in US C+C inventories.

      Therefore, in my opinion the US and (and perhaps globally) C+C inventory data are fundamentally flawed, when it comes to actual crude oil inventory data. The most common dividing line between actual crude oil and condensate is 45 API gravity, although the distillate yield drops off considerably just going from 39 API to 42 API gravity crude, and the upper limit for WTI crude oil is 42 API.

      In 2015, the EIA issued a report on US C+C production (what they call “Crude oil”), classifying the C+C by API gravity, and the data are very interesting:

      https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=23952

      Note that 22% of US Lower 48 C+C production consists of condensate (45+ API gravity) and note that about 40% of US Lower 48 C+C production exceeds the maximum API gravity for WTI crude oil (42 API). The above chart goes a long way toward explaining why US net crude oil imports increased from late 2014 to 2015, even as US C+ C inventories increased by 100 million barrels, and I suspect that what is true for the US may also be true for the world, in regard to the composition of global C+C inventories.

      Following is my analysis of global C+C production data versus estimated global crude oil production data, through 2014, using the available data bases:

      Did Global Crude Oil Production Peak in 2005?

      http://peakoilbarrel.com/worldwide-rig-count-dropping-again/comment-page-1/#comment-546170

      How Quickly Can US Tight/Shale Operators Cause US C+C Production to Increase?

      Because of equipment, personnel and financial constraints, in my opinion it is going to take much longer than most analysts expect for US operators to ramp up activity, even given a rising price environment.

      Except for the 2008 “V” shaped price decline (which bottomed out in December, 2008), and the corresponding US rig count decline, the US (oil and gas) rig count has been around 1,800 to 2,000 in recent years. Note that it took about five years to go from around 1,000 rigs in 2003 to around 2,000 rigs in 2008, and it even took two years to go from around 1,000 rigs in 2009 to around 2,000 rigs in 2011.

      And assuming a 15%/year rate of decline in existing US C+C production and assuming a 24%/year rate of decline in existing US gas production, the US has to put on line around 1.4 million bpd of new C+C production every year and around 17 BCF per day of new gas production every year, just to offset declines from existing wells. Based on 2013 EIA data, the estimated annual volumetric loss of production from existing US gas production exceeds the annual dry gas production of every country in the world, except for the US and Russia.

      Some Deep Pocketed Investors See a Buying Opportunity in Oil & Gas Assets

      Following is a link to a very interesting press release, which notes that the Carlyle Group is going to invest up to $1.24 billion in a joint venture with Hilcorp to acquire and operate oil & gas properties:

      Hilcorp and Carlyle Group form partnership to acquire North American oil and gas assets

      https://www.carlyle.com/news-room/news-release-archive/hilcorp-and-carlyle-form-partnership-acquire-north-american-oil-and-g

      • shallow sand says:

        Jeffrey. Our crude is 31-36 gravity. So what should we be doing to obtain a higher price, given the domestic scarcity of our below 40 degree sweet crude?

        • Jeffrey J. Brown says:

          My point is that the US (and probably global) crude oil market (45 API gravity and lower crude) is not nearly as oversupplied as the C+C inventory numbers would suggest, i.e., oil traders are relying on a defective data base when it comes to actual crude oil inventories (the stuff corresponding to the oil prices indexes), and when the market turns, it could be a pretty rapid rate of increase in oil prices. But on the other hand, I thought that Dennis was right when he called January, 2015 as the low point in the current oil price decline.

          In any case, if anyone has an alternative explanation for US C+C inventories rising by 100 million barrels year over year, with rising net crude oil imports, combined with documented case histories of refiners increasingly rejecting “foul” blends of heavy crude and condensate, I would like to hear it.

          Following is an excerpt from a memo that I am preparing to send out to some of my investors:

          Perpetually Low Oil Prices Versus The Laws of Physics

          I sent out a couple of emails outlining what I think is a strong case that it is time to start taking a hard look at oil & gas investments, and as noted in one of my emails, there are some very deep pocketed investors, e.g., The Carlyle Group, planning on putting some serious money (in excess of a billion dollars) into oil and gas properties.

          Some of you may recall the Economist Magazine cover story, published in early 1999, which predicted that because of advances in technology, we were looking at an extended long term period with oil prices in the $5 to $10 range. While I suppose it’s possible that this time the conventional wisdom is right, i.e., that we are looking at perpetually low oil prices, my bet is that the laws of physics will prevail, especially in regard to the high, and rising, rates of decline in existing US oil & gas production.

          And as I noted, I think that I have made a strong case that the trillions of dollars spent on upstream global capex since 2005 have only been sufficient to keep us on an undulating plateau in actual global crude oil production, and because of the large and ongoing declines in global upstream capex, even the Wall Street Journal is expressing concerns about a future oil price spike, as supply falls.

          The Cornucopian Crowd is arguing that advances in technology have indefinitely postponed any kind of production peak to the distant future. I think that the reality is much more prosaic. In my opinion, the reality is that global crude oil production has probably effectively peaked, while global natural gas production and associated liquids (condensate and natural gas liquids) have so far continued to increase.

          • shallow sand says:

            I agree. I try to read what little info there is on LTO in OK. From my reading, I can’t find that any of it is oil. I never knew oil could be 55-60 API.

            Interesting that US is down to 67 vertical rigs drilling for oil, per Baker Hughes. That has to be nearly an all time low for the United States.

        • Jeffrey J. Brown says:

          The Economist Magazine ran their “Drowning in oil” cover story in early 1999, in which they suggested that we would see $5 to $10 oil for the indefinite future.

          At the time of the story, annual Brent crude oil prices were then in the early stages of three approximate price doublings:

          From $13 in 1998 to $25 in 2002;
          From $25 in 2002 to $55 in 2005;
          From $55 in 2005 to $110 range for 2011 to 2013 inclusive (about $99 for 2014).

          Economist Magazine, March, 1999: The next shock?

          Yet here is a thought: $10 might actually be too optimistic. We may be heading for $5. To see why, consider chart 1. Thanks to new technology and productivity gains, you might expect the price of oil, like that of most other commodities, to fall slowly over the years. Judging by the oil market in the pre-OPEC era, a “normal” market price might now be in the $5-10 range. Factor in the current slow growth of the world economy and the normal price drops to the bottom of that range. . . .

          The supply situation is even gloomier for producers. Unlike 1986, oil supplies have been slow to respond to the past year’s fall. Even at $10 a barrel, it can be worth continuing with projects that already have huge sunk costs. Rapid technological advances have pushed the cost of finding, developing and producing crude oil outside the Middle East down from over $25 a barrel (in today’s prices) in the 1980s to around $10 now. Privatisation and deregulation in such places as Argentina, Malaysia and Venezuela have transformed moribund state-owned oil firms. According to Douglas Terreson of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, an investment bank, this has “unleashed a dozen new Texacos during the 1990s”, all of them keen to pump oil.

          Meanwhile OPEC, which masterminded the supply cuts that pushed prices up in the 1970s and 1980s, is in complete disarray. The cartel will try yet again to agree upon production cuts at its next meeting, on March 23rd, but, partly thanks to its members’ cheating on quotas, the impact of any such cuts will be small. OPEC members fear that Iraq, whose UN-constrained output rose by 1m barrels a day in 1998, may some day be able to raise production further. Last week Algeria’s energy minister declared, with only slight exaggeration, that prices might conceivably tumble “to $2 or $3 a barrel.”

          • shallow sand says:

            Jeffrey, one point to make is that in March, 1999, OPEC cut. Over the course of 1999 there was a very strong price response.

            I thought there was a chance of an OPEC cut 12/15, based on looking at 1998-99 timing. I was wrong. And since 12/4/15, the oil price has collapsed over 20%. I wonder what would have happened in 1999 had OPEC not cut?

            Interesting that in 1997-98 there was an Asian financial crisis, which collapsed prices. However, there wasn’t the huge increase in US C+C production then, nor was there the Iran Saudi dynamic. There was the desire to break Russia/USSR in the US government.

            OPEC (Saudi) policy seems suicidal at this point, or maybe they are setting up a huge price spike? Didn’t they hint at allowing foreign firms access to Aramco assets in 1998 (or was that 1986)? What would be the market reaction to a 4 million bopd cut, like occurred in 2009, when prices were near where we are now?

            I have discussed OPEC policy with several “old timers”. We think they eventually cut. However, we could be wrong.

            US producers better hope they do.

  45. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Ron
    I hate to refer people to long videos, but I think that it might be worth your time to watch this one:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukFpwvlkqUY

    The gist of it is that agriculture, which has historically been one of the most destructive things humans have done, CAN be done in a way that is life-enhancing. Birds and bees and snakes CAN multiply by several fold. The methods used on this farm DO NOT, in and of themselves. solve the large predator extinction issues. However, if you compare the productivity of this intensive method with the low productivity of most farming, you can see that we COULD use less land for the growing of food. The less land we use for growing our own food, the more land is available to set aside as wild preserves.

    I consider this video a very optimistic one, in that it demonstrates a way forward. If all crop lands were as successful in increasing soil carbon as this farm, we would sequester all of the carbon which has been put into the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

    Don Stewart

    • Fred Magyar says:

      You can watch this as well.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-pr0cYzuDQ

      Is this the Future of Global Food Systems?
      Disruptive Innovation Festival
      Published on Dec 7, 2015
      Leontino Balbo Jr has developed an approach to organic sugar cane production with the potential to disrupt the whole agricultural sector itself.

      There is a lot more to disruption than EVs, Uber and self driving vehicles. It is happening in just about every single sector of the economy from agriculture to manufacturing, National Governments, AI, Medicine, Materials Science, Chemical Companies and Urban Design, just to name a few. Concepts from applied Biomimicry, implementation of Systems and Design Thinking, Circular Regenerative Economy, the list goes on and on.

      Will all of this usher in a new age of prosperity for 7+ billion people?

      While that is highly unlikely, some of these ideas might be the start of a completely new way of organizing some future pockets of surviving civilization after the die off bottleneck from which the majority of humans will not emerge on the other side.

      • Doug Leighton says:

        Hi Fred,

        Interesting times, so many scientific and technology advances juxtaposed with insurmountable compounding problems. Perhaps the future will see enclaves of survivors touting 3D printers and androids. I saw a program recently on the BBC world news where a musicologist was discussing classical pieces with a bloody robot and they were arguing, actually arguing, subtle points about a piano concert by Liszt. Then one of my Daughters wanted to buy me a 3D printer for Christmas, an idea I nixed. Nothing would surprise me. I can remember when advanced technology involved a slide rule.

        • Fred Magyar says:

          I saw a program recently on the BBC world news where a musicologist was discussing classical pieces with a bloody robot and they were arguing, actually arguing, subtle points about a piano concert by Liszt.

          Yeah, AI, Expert Systems such as Watson and even more sophisticated deep learning algorithms are all out of the bag and have totally changed the landscape of what was deemed impossible, wishful thinking or something out of science fiction even as little as a decade ago. Very few people have a clue as to how fast all this has happened.

        • Synapsid says:

          Doug L,

          You’ve done it now: I look out the window and see Memory Lane.

          My $1.38 plastic Pickett slide rule took me through undergraduate General Chemistry and four quarters of calculus-based physics. No specious accuracy with that little marvel.

          I still have it, somewhere. (snif)

          (snif)

      • Jef says:

        People have NO idea what they are talking about wrt food production.

        Farmers have understood the “soil web” for hundreds of years. We tossed it aside in order to feed the planet and get rich.

        All of the above mentioned processes by definition means less production per acre per year. Its all good for the soil for sure but not something that will take off and replace industrial ag.

        Permaculture is basically landscape gardening on a large scale. You get little or no harvest for many years and never large harvest as needed. The fact that there are no large commercial permaculture farms should be a clue.

        Like all solutions they leave out the economics of feeding as many people as we now do.

        Worshiping “Disruptive” is just another way to stick your head in the sand.

        • Don Stewart says:

          Jef
          Suggest you look at
          http://quiviracoalition.org/2015_Conference/SPEAKERS/
          scroll down to Christine Jones and then to David Johnson. You can listen or select the PDF of the slides.

          Just as Darwin did not understand genes, farmers of a couple of centuries ago did not understand microbes the way we understand them now. And the scientists were nowhere near correct…Justus von Liebig was way off the mark. Some people like the ‘organic’ advocates of the 1930s and 1940s knew some things from careful observation…but, like Darwin, they just didn’t have the science.

          Will methods based on microbes cure disease and grow plenty of food for 7 or 8 or 9 billion? I don’t know….but they will do better than continuing on our present course. If you combine what Christine Jones is saying about the degradation of our food with the statistics that Johnson produces from his field trials, you do get some sense of optimism.

          Don Stewart

          • Jef says:

            Don – The bottom line here is that there is no magic that goes on out in the field that creates something from nothing. You only get out what you put in.
            There are two basic options;
            1 – You kill the soil but pour in enough chemicals to get a plant to grow then harvest, rinse and repeat… almost literally, sometimes 2 or 3 times a year. You have a problem you douse it with more chems.

            2 – You work hard to generate live soil, mulch in all that is not removed at harvest, add tons of organic matter that you bring in from somewhere else, let the soil rest for long periods to let the soil grow. If you have a problem you try and plant something else that might help with the problem or use some form of “organic” chem.

            The food produced from live soil is way more nutritious and better for the environment but it has been and still is way more expensive and produces less per year. The only way it becomes less expensive is relative to the increasing expense of FF based farming. That is not a happy thing because it still means more expensive.

            This is all well understood and has been for many many years.

            • farmboy says:

              Jef says ” add tons of organic matter that you bring in from somewhere else”.

              You are not taking into account that the only way to build lasting organic matter in the soil is done by photosynthesising plants, working with soil biology. not by rotting plant material.http://soilcarboncoalition.org/

              • Jef says:

                Farmboy – Yes I am. Thats exactly what I meant when I said “You work hard to generate live soil”. Which I have been doing for many years now.

                None the less you still need to bring in inputs from outside of the acreage being harvested. There is no free lunch and you can’t replace all of the soil nutrients needed simply by planting cover crops.

            • Stephan Becker says:

              Hi Jef,
              You work hard to generate live soil, mulch in all that is not removed at harvest, add tons of organic matter that you bring in from somewhere else, let the soil rest for long periods to let the soil grow. If you have a problem you try and plant something else that might help with the problem or use some form of “organic” chem.

              Do you know the word of Geoff Lawton: “If people would know what nature can do, they wouldn’t be afraid”.

              Here is the excellent lecture of Mrs. Ingham (Jan 2015) about the soil food web and the abundance of nutrients in the soil:

              The Roots of Your Profits – Dr Elaine Ingham, Soil Microbiologist, Founder of Soil Foodweb Inc (1h36min)
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2H60ritjag

              You just have to put once or twice times compost on your fields and the rest will do the soil biology.

              Here is the farmer Gabe Brown of North Dacota who says of himself that he is now producing the same amount of food with lesser costs than his neighbours by practicing organic agriculture:

              21 11 2014 gabe Brown
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_L5n4VnEXo

  46. Jeffrey J. Brown says:

    Iran is dangerous—but Saudi Arabia is even worse
    http://qz.com/589737/iran-is-dangerous-but-saudi-arabia-is-even-worse/

    Saudi Arabia’s decision to execute Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr was designed to provoke Iran into an expansion of military engagement. That’s an unsettling strategy–but true nonetheless.

    The initial reaction to the kingdom’s decision was relatively minor—a few Molotov cocktails were lobbed at its embassy in Tehran. But a chain reaction of diplomatic fallout has unfolded over the past few days. Saudi Arabia severed all diplomatic relations with Iran; oil allies Bahrain, Sudan and Djibouti quickly followed suit. Perhaps more surprisingly, other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) allies like Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates opted for the less drastic measure of recalling their ambassadors.

    Each act of incitement, however, including Saudi Arabia’s allegedly deliberate targeting of the Iranian embassy in Sana’a, Yemen, is further indication of Riyadh’s desperation to demonize Tehran in the court of world opinion. It is an exercise in futility, and one that casts doubt over the kingdom’s own stability and sensibility. The United States’ longtime ally is losing its iron-fisted grip over both its people and the region. This fact, coupled with Saudi Arabia’s staggering arsenal and unprincipled ruling ideology, makes the kingdom incredibly dangerous–arguably more so than infamous Axis of Evil member Iran. . . .

    A paradigm shift of leadership beckons as King Salman, the son of the kingdom’s founder, Abdulaziz Al-Saud, looks to incorporate a next generation of Saudi royalty. The king’s nephew, Mohammed bin Nayef, is the crown prince and presumptive heir to the throne. But it is Salman’s own son, Mohammed, deputy crown prince and the world’s youngest defense minister at age 30, who is seen as the country’s eminence grise and successor to his father’s title.

    However, Mohammed bin Salman is widely regarded as impulsive and woefully inexperienced. The failure of Saudi policy against the Iranian-supported Houthi rebellion in Yemen lies at his feet. It is hardly a coincidence that on the same day Riyadh executed Sheik Al-Nimr, it unilaterally withdrew from a fragile ceasefire in Yemen. Western allies and regional acolytes alike nervously consider whether Saudi Arabia will be vulnerable to more campaigns of folly or even a palace coup, depending on who next ascends the leadership hierarchy.

    • Jeffrey J. Brown says:

      Except that aren’t hedges and drilling programs separate profit and loss centers?

      Or, to put it another way, the question is, how do they deploy the profits from hedges against falling oil prices? Apparently, they decided to put the profits from hedges, plus additional new capital and cash flow from operations, into drilling.

    • shallow sand says:

      I ain’t buying it, Greenbub. First off, the author transposed a number when he attempted to show how much net income would be derived in year one, after figuring in the hedges.

      Secondly, I believe he ignored royalties. Does PXD drill a fee acreage.

      Third, unless existing production drops to less than 85% of its 2015 level, which is the amount the author says is hedged, the barrels from new (2016) production will be unhedged, and sold at the market, which is currently around $30 for oil for PXD.

      Fourth, does PXD think $52 or below is the best they can do in the next several years? Unless it is, shouldn’t they just wait a little while, absent lease requirements of course? If I am sitting on a 1000′ location that I am sure will cumulative net to me 30K bold in year one, and it costs me $70K to D &C, yes, I will get a quick payout, but I could be foregoing $150K if we get a spike in a year or two. That makes some assumptions that we really can’t make, but you get the drift.

      I agree PXD is better hedged than most. But there are some issues.

      The final problem is that all of these shale guys are forgetting how much perception is driving the crude market. The bankers are screaming to the shale guys, “do not grow supply until the market balances.”. The shale guys are ignoring, thus the price of crude continues to sink like a stone thrown in the deep end of the pool. And the pool apparently is pretty freaking deep.

      Conventional is cutting production, they can’t and/or won’t do what shale is doing because they are playing with their own money.

      How many shale CEO’s and upper management took a pay cut in 2015? How many Chapter 11’s are resulting in the same management keeping their jobs?

      Obviously, a mom and pop cannot file a Chapter 11 that would be confirmed, at least few could. They will have to go the liquidation route. So, instead, mom and pops will shut in, and try to wait it out like in 1986 and 1998-99. Lots of issues with that approach, but it is usually mom and pops only choice. Get a job in town, pump the wells on the weekends.

      Drilling now is really a lot about ego and impressing a bunch of young, macho analysts. I can attest to the ego part. I have seen it first hand.

      Its kind of like HH making fun of OPEC, the “toothless tiger” comment. OPEC saved HH bacon when they cut in March, 1999. They saved it again with the cuts in 2008-2009.

      I have never owned or even been in Gulfstream, nor have I done much of the other extreme stuff these shale guys have done. They are true gamblers, wouldn’t be where they are if they weren’t. So I am not surprised they will ride it to the bitter end, even keep drilling at $10 WTI. But it is tough not to be upset about it.

      Simple analogy. Me driving 5 year old paid for generic truck. Neighbors all around borrowing $70K for the latest tricked out model, on 96 month loan.

      Hey, what the shale boys are doing is the American way. OPEC doesn’t understand the American way, thus the $1 trillion they are/will be short in oil revenues in 2015-16.

      • shallow sand says:

        On a further note, I read where PXD says the $2.5 billion of 2016 CAPEX will grow production 20-25,000 BOEPD. So, clearly not cheap.

        Since we are at 2003 oil and even lower than 2003 natural gas and liquids levels, with higher OPEX, tell me who in 2003 was spending that kind of money to increase production by that small amount? I bet no one. Those extra 20-25K boepd will be sold at 2003 levels, should they persist.

        And onto perception, should the fact that PXD is going to grow production by 20-25K boepd make a shred of difference to the crude oil market? No, but by golly look at what Goldman is saying about it, and the crude price dropped 10% in a week.

        For that matter, no one expected an OPEC cut, inventories appear the same as 12/4/15, yet we have lost around 25% since OPEC said no cut. Its all a perception trade.

        Long ago I said shale should have came out the week after Thanksgiving and told the truth, this business isn’t a growth business below $75 WTI. We are going to defer until we rebound. It would have put lots out of work immediately, more than were actually let go, but a drop below 8 million bopd by now would have done the trick, Saudi would have been impressed and maintained at 9.6. We might be at $80 and might have companies in better shape.

        I guess US onshore conventional needs to die. That seems to be the message.

        • Greenbub says:

          Shallow, you are much wiser than me in these affairs, but if you are hedged well and expecting a dramatic turnaround in prices, this is what to do. Also retains your workforce. Question is the timing of the turnaround.

        • likbez says:

          Shallow,

          You made a very good point:

          “On a further note, I read where PXD says the $2.5 billion of 2016 CAPEX will grow production 20-25,000 BOEPD. So, clearly not cheap.”

          Assuming 25,000 bbl/day and that this increase in production will last for five years after capex “injection” you need $54.79 bbl “net” to break even without interest payments. Given the rate of decline of fracked wells, five years is a pretty optimistic assumption. This makes sense only if they expect return to $70-80 price range in late 2016 and $100 thereafter.

          In a way Pioneer no longer should be viewed as an oil producing company but as a hedge fund with a side oil production business and as such belongs more to Wall Street then to the shale patch.

          Also they need to be well connected with major financial players as to refinance notes for a shale company now is not that easy. This is essentially a vote that the company will exists in 5 years. Mutual funds like Vanguard probably will no longer participate despite their Baa3 (Placed on Review for Downgrade) Moody rating.

  47. Apneaman says:

    We now have extinction deniers in the same way we have climate deniers. No amount of evidence is enough.

    Climate Change Deniers Present Graphic Description Of What Earth Must Look Like For Them To Believe

    “For us to accept that the average surface temperature of the Earth has risen to critical levels due to mankind’s production of greenhouse gases, we’ll need to see some actual, visible evidence, including a global death toll of no less than 500 million people within a single calendar year,” said spokesperson William Davis, 46, of Jackson, NJ, who added that at least 70 percent of all islands on the planet would also have to become submerged under rising seas before he and his cohort would reconsider their beliefs. “To start, we’re going to have to see supercell tornadoes of category F4 or higher ripping through Oklahoma at least three times a day, leveling entire communities and causing hundreds of fatalities—and just to be perfectly clear, we’re talking year-round, not just during the spring tornado season.”

    “Furthermore, climate change deniers maintained that if the total number of plant and animal species on the planet remained higher than 200 in aggregate, they would not be dissuaded from their belief that Earth is simply experiencing one of its natural warming cycles that would eventually resolve itself on its own.

    “I don’t think it’s too much to ask to see a super hurricane destroying the Southeast U.S. and another one at the same time decimating the Pacific Northwest before I make up my mind about this,” said global warming skeptic Michelle Wilkinson of Medina, MN, adding that she would be willing to recognize the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change if repeated and unpredictable storm surge flooding rendered every major East Coast city, including Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., wholly uninhabitable. “The fact of the matter is that if I walk outside at any time of day at any point in the year and it’s below 90 degrees, then there simply isn’t enough proof that we need to be cutting carbon emissions.”

    http://www.theonion.com/article/climate-change-deniers-present-graphic-description-51129

    • Doug Leighton says:

      “We now have extinction deniers in the same way we have climate deniers. No amount of evidence is enough.”

      Trolls are a fact of life. Many are paid to sow discord by starting arguments/upsetting people; many believe their own tripe (i.e., religious zealots). They are best deleted (thanks Ron) or ignored.

      • Apneaman says:

        Doug, why not start your own blog so you don’t have to ask others to censor for you when the topic makes you uncomfortable?

      • Javier says:

        I see, so anybody that asks for the evidence supporting those wildly alarmist claims that we are in a mass extinction is a troll that needs to be deleted.

        We have certainly abandoned the Age of Enlightenment and entered the Age of Idiocy. I propose the name of Idiocene, where any wild unsupported claim goes unchallenged, because challenging it gets you into all sorts of prosecutions.

        Show me the data. How many species of mammals and birds have we lost in the past 20 years? We should know since we track them. Those are not estimates, but real data.

    • Synapsid says:

      Apneaman,

      It’s from The Onion.

    • Javier says:

      No amount of evidence is enough.

      Perhaps the problem is that the evidence does not support those alarmist claims, as I have shown time and over again in this blog. Alarmists and deniers go hand in hand in terms of ignoring evidence to support their claims.

    • Javier says:

      That’s 18 years ago.

      How many species of mammals and birds have we lost since?

      If we are in a mass extinction we should be losing species rather fast, unless it is a virtual mass extinction.

      Show me data, not opinion.

  48. Jimmy says:

    Here’s a link to a Jay Hanson interview from several years ago. It’s not the best interview but Mr Hanson does get his point across well. I hope it is interesting to those who might not have heard it before.

    http://jayhanson.us/rr-jhanson-16kbps.mp3

  49. robert wilson says:

    Nate Hagens is scheduled to speak at UH-Hilo on Jan 12,2006. I believe that he plans to visit Jay. http://www.hamakuasprings.com/2016/01/11-days-to-hagens-talk.html

  50. Clueless says:

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/10/151008-chernobyl-animals-thrive-without-people-science/

    A special thanks to techguy for encouraging me to find this article.

    • Fred Magyar says:

      Right Clueless, so maybe we should just nuke the whole planet and turn it into one gigantic nature preserve. Hey at least that would obviously solve the ecosystem devastation and human overshoot problem by eliminating vast numbers of humans.

      From the link:

      “We’re not saying the radiation levels are good for the animals; we know it damages their DNA, but human habitation and development of the land are worse for wildlife,”

      I’m going to start a campaign for letting all nuclear power plants on the planet, melt down! I mean what could go wrong…

    • Javier says:

      I just mentioned it above:
      http://peakoilbarrel.com/confessions-of-a-doomer/comment-page-1/#comment-554470

      As usual Fred Magyar misses the point. That data indicates the speed of the recovery by Nature once the nefarious influence of mankind wanes. That influence doesn’t need to be removed by nuclear activity. Setting up natural preserves is good enough, and we are on our way to set 17% of all lands as natural preserves by 2020.

      • Fred Magyar says:

        That influence doesn’t need to be removed by nuclear activity.

        Actually my point, albeit dripping with what should have been obvious sarcasm, was precisely that ‘THE INFLUENCE’ or in this case humans, do need to be removed, by whatever means possible in order for wildlife to make a comeback.

        Yes, It would be wonderful if we found humane ways to voluntarily reduce human population and at the same time set aside 50% of all the ecosystems on the planet as natural preserves, (BTW, this is actually an E.O. Wilson idea,) However since I don’t see that happening anytime soon I though perhaps we could speed up the process a bit and just nuke most of the centers of our global civilization.

        Maybe I should write a course on understanding and recognizing sarcasm in blog posts! On second thought my idea for nuking everything is probably a more viable option… Jeez!!

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Fred and Javier,

          You guys seem to be familiar with the literature. How many peer reviewed articles state that the 6th Mass Extinction has begun? How many say the reverse?
          How many say we don’t know (possibly the correct position)?

          On most points regarding environmental damage due to humans you seem to agree( except any influence due to climate change where you don not agree).

          Whether a 6th Mass extinction has already started seems a major point of disagreement, though I believe you would both agree we do not have very good numbers on extinctions in the past on a species level and the current data on species loss is at minimum incomplete, so answering the question definitively (from a scientific perspective) may be difficult.

          Do you both believe the majority of scientists qualified in this field agree with your position?

  51. Rusty1 says:

    I don’t think anything but the simplest of organisms make it through this extinction.Due to nuclear plant meltdowns after civilization collapses less than .1 %. If anything has enough food to survive radiation blasting it’s genes will destroy it to in a few generations. 1 or 2 million years before live starts again. But good luck

    • Karen Fremerman says:

      Yes exactly that is something CC/PO folks don’t mention much. How are we going to maintain nuclear plants when population is declining and energy is depleting? If we can’t maintain them constantly because of war/declining population/chaos/lack of fossil fuels what happens to them? Do they explode and send out nasty stuff into the atmosphere? I have never heard anyone address that.

      • Clueless says:

        Right. If you shut them down and abandon them, they just explode. Are you capable of reading beyond a 4th grade level?

        • Joe Clarkson says:

          Yes, if you abandon the spent fuel cooling pools, the fuel rods dry out, overheat and explode (chemical and steam explosions), sending vaporized fuel into the sky and wafting downwind. Have you ever heard of Fukushima prefecture?

          • Dennis Coyne says:

            So you guys envision a World with no energy? Kind of a Mad Max scenario, solar, wind, and nuclear power cannot be used to cool the spent fuel pools? If population declines there will be an excess of energy per capita.

            • Javier says:

              In Mad Max 2 gas did not seem to be much of a problem. Everybody had an ICM vehicle and they spent much of the day driving around, hanging out on well maintained roads. A bunch of guys seemed to have their own petro-complex, refining included. It seems that the problem in Mad Max 2 was a total lack of authority.

              Our civilization is a very complex structure and for its maintenance we completely depend on the economy. I envision a world where the economy has failed and civilization is reducing its complexity in a very chaotic way. If there are local excesses of energy that energy cannot sustain an increase in complexity, only a temporary slowdown of civilization simplification.

              • Dennis Coyne says:

                Hi Javier,

                The economic structure will change, as it has changed in the past (slave society to feudalism to capitalism to ?).
                Humans will figure out a new form of social organization appropriate so slow growth (maybe 1% per year) in per capita income with declining population, possibly with the youth receiving inherited wealth as older people die or with high estate taxes and wealth being redistributed to reduce income inequality.

                With declining population income per capita could grow with overall World GDP maintaining a steady state or World GDP could decline with slowly growing GDP per capita (if Population decline rates are higher than GDP per capita growth rates).

                We can assume this is impossible because population and income have been mostly growing for 500 to 800 years ( with a few exceptions). It is not clear to me that it is impossible, but I would agree it will be difficult to make that transition.

                Japan may be a great lesson as it is struggling with this transition.

            • Joe Clarkson says:

              Dennis, I do worry that if the grid fails there will be all sorts of disruptions to commerce and normal life. More than any other type of energy, our civilization depends on a continuous supply of electricity. Without that supply, I can easily imagine a great deal of turmoil and distraction from having to deal with millions of starving people. Do you have confidence that we can immediately switch to a command economy should our market economy be destroyed by lack of electricity? How can we be sure that the backup diesels at each nuclear facility have a continuous supply of fuel and spare parts?

              You may say that an extended grid failure is unlikely, but it will eventually have to fail from lack of primary energy resources. I have my doubts that we will prepare in advance for such an event, even though we should. We will be very lucky if “power down” is gradual, especially if other important systems (like food supply) are failing simultaneously. I think it is poor policy to trust something so important to luck or to just assume that renewables will seamlessly replace fossil fuels in powering our civilization.

              • Nick G says:

                I think it is poor policy to…just assume that renewables will seamlessly replace fossil fuels in powering our civilization.

                Of course. It will take a lot of hard work and careful planning, just like any large project. But it certainly can be done, and is very likely to be done.

  52. Apneaman says:

    After 60 million years of extreme living, seabirds are crashing
    A new study finds that the world’s seabird populations have plummeted by almost 70% in just 60 years.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/radical-conservation/2015/sep/22/after-60-million-years-of-extreme-living-seabirds-are-crashing

    • Javier says:

      Of course they are crashing. We are taking their food away from them. It is called appropriation of their resources. We have done this with most species. It is the inevitable consequence of both our growing population levels and our way of living. We do need to change that, but it is a tough sell even between environmentalists, that also like to live well. In the meantime we can and we are increasing natural coastal preserves and setting limits on our fish captures.

      • Synapsid says:

        Javier,

        Paul Colinvaux pointed out that appropriation of resources is part of what he called the appropriation of niches, and that we are the ones who do that–other animals don’t.

        That made a strong impression on me, it did, twenty-some years ago.

        • Javier says:

          Yes. This appropriation has been going on for far too long and fighting it by setting natural reserves on whatever is left and restoring spaces for wildlife was the main fight of conservationists everywhere until climate change came along. Now all the money that should be going for this, specially for third world countries, is going for carbon compensation and climate change fight. If all this effort and money had been directed to conservation we would have done a lot of good to the planet.

          • Dennis Coyne says:

            Hi Javier,

            We will eventually need to find something to replace fossil fuels. Perhaps you believe that scarcity and increased prices will take care of that problem and that we do not have enough fossil fuel resources to cause climate change to be detrimental.

            I think we can solve more than one problem at a time. I also think fossil fuel resources may be more plentiful than some people think (mid way between mainstream and pessimistic estimates) so that we should try to reduce the amount of fossil fuel used, the market may take care of this problem, but it is unlikely to be smooth sailing.

          • BC says:

            Imperial capitalism (or rentier-socialist corporate-statism as it has evolved to date) is an example of appropriation/expropriation/exploitation, only the niche is now the planet.

            But there’s always Mars once planet Earth has been fully appropriated. 🙂

            • Dennis Coyne says:

              Or we could reduce our numbers to manageable levels by having smaller families.

              • BC says:

                As we all know, world population growth rate has almost halved since the peak in the 1970s; and it’s on a log-linear trend to accelerate the deceleration of growth in the next 15-20 years.

                So, the process you describe is happening, and it is no coincidence that it has occurred in lockstep with peak US oil production per capita in 1970 and the 45% decline to date.

                • Dennis Coyne says:

                  Hi BC,

                  Two things that happen at the same time do not have to be causally related. It could indeed be a coincidence. You need to explain how peak oil per capita (which occurred for the World in 1979) is related to total fertility ratios, which have been declining at a relatively constant exponential rate from 1967 to 2012.

                  I can carry an umbrella because it looks like rain, but certainly the rain would occur regardless of whether I had an umbrella or not.

          • BC says:

            Yes, Javier, and the conservation efforts in the US since the 1980s-90s were co-opted by the wealthy and their trusts and foundations to set aside greenspace near their land holdings to increase land values, keep the “riff raff” (bottom 90-99%) away, and prevent developers from building housing that the “riff raff” could afford.

            Same as it ever way . . .

    • Javier says:

      Bullshit. How many species of fish have we driven extinct? Very few because it is very difficult to extinct a fish species as the ocean is very big and they just move. We have depleted many fisheries but that is not the same as the extinction of the fish. Once we get below the level where commercial capture is worth it the fish is left alone.

      • Fred Magyar says:

        No worries! Everything is just fine and dandy! Javier is right, we don’t know for sure if any Marine fish species have recently gone extinct and therefore we can’t be sure if any will…

        Fish and Fisheries
        Volume 4, Issue 1, pages 25–64, March 2003

        Keywords:
        biodiversity;conservation;detection;fisheries;recovery;Red List;risk
        Abstract
        Human impacts on the world’s oceans have been substantial, leading to concerns about the extinction of marine taxa. We have compiled 133 local, regional and global extinctions of marine populations. There is typically a 53-year lag between the last sighting of an organism and the reported date of the extinction at whatever scale this has occurred. Most disappearances (80%) were detected using indirect historical comparative methods, which suggests that marine extinctions may have been underestimated because of low-detection power. Exploitation caused most marine losses at various scales (55%), followed closely by habitat loss (37%), while the remainder were linked to invasive species, climate change, pollution and disease. Several perceptions concerning the vulnerability of marine organisms appear to be too general and insufficiently conservative. Marine species cannot be considered less vulnerable on the basis of biological attributes such as high fecundity or large-scale dispersal characteristics. For commercially exploited species, it is often argued that economic extinction of exploited populations will occur before biological extinction, but this is not the case for non-target species caught in multispecies fisheries or species with high commercial value, especially if this value increases as species become rare. The perceived high potential for recovery, high variability and low extinction vulnerability of fish populations have been invoked to avoid listing commercial species of fishes under international threat criteria. However, we need to learn more about recovery, which may be hampered by negative population growth at small population sizes (Allee effect or depensation) or ecosystem shifts, as well as about spatial dynamics and connectivity of subpopulations before we can truly understand the nature of responses to severe depletions. The evidence suggests that fish populations do not fluctuate more than those of mammals, birds and butterflies, and that fishes may exhibit vulnerability similar to mammals, birds and butterflies. There is an urgent need for improved methods of detecting marine extinctions at various spatial scales, and for predicting the vulnerability of species.

    • It isn’t bullshit Javier. Fish, especially fish on the continental shelf, cannot just move, they have a habitat. Remove them from that habitat and they die. Or poison their habitat with pollutants and they die. It is just common sense and this has been in the news for some time. I am shocked at your naiveté on this subject.

      Already, 29% of edible fish and seafood species have declined by 90% — a drop that means the collapse of these fisheries.

      But the issue isn’t just having seafood on our plates. Ocean species filter toxins from the water. They protect shorelines. And they reduce the risks of algae blooms such as the red tide.

      “A large and increasing proportion of our population lives close to the coast; thus the loss of services such as flood control and waste detoxification can have disastrous consequences,” Worm and colleagues say.

      The researchers analyzed data from 32 experiments on different marine environments.

      They then analyzed the 1,000-year history of 12 coastal regions around the world, including San Francisco and Chesapeake bays in the U.S., and the Adriatic, Baltic, and North seas in Europe.

      Next, they analyzed fishery data from 64 large marine ecosystems.

      And finally, they looked at the recovery of 48 protected ocean areas.

      Their bottom line: Everything that lives in the ocean is important. The diversity of ocean life is the key to its survival. The areas of the ocean with the most different kinds of life are the healthiest.

      But the loss of species isn’t gradual. It’s happening fast — and getting faster, the researchers say.

      • Javier says:

        Sorry Ron,

        I agree with you in everything that you (and they) say about the sorry state of marine ecosystems and the need to protect them, but the extinction issue is bogus.

        Lets go to the IUCN Redlist query:

        It lists 65 fish (actinopterygii) as extinct in the last 500 years.
        They list several orders with more than one species:

        24 cypriniformes (freshwater)
        14 Cyprinodontiformes (freshwater)
        8 Perciformes (all aquatic ecosystems)
        13 salmoniformes (all spawn in fresh water)
        3 siluriformes (freshwater)

        Do you start to see a theme? Let’s zoom into the 8 Perciformes species:

        Ctenochromis pectoralis (freshwater, not extinct according to Wikipedia)
        Etheostoma sellare (freshwater)
        Ptychochromis onilahy (freshwater)
        Ptychochromoides itasy (freshwater, not extinct according to Wikipedia)
        Tristramella intermedia (freshwater)
        Tristramella magdelainae (freshwater)
        Tristramella sacra (freshwater)
        Xystichromis bayoni (freshwater)

        Ok so according to official data of the 65 species of fish that we know that have gone extinct at least 62 are freshwater species.

        Now tell me Ron, what is the scientific basis for “Salt-Water Fish Extinction Seen By 2048”? Whoever saw that needs to go to the optometrist urgently.

        • I don’t think anyone expects ALL of them to go extinct by 2048, just most of them.

          SOURCES: Worm, B. Science, Nov. 3, 2006; vol 314: pp 787-790. News release, SeaWeb. News release, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

          • Javier says:

            So in essence, Ron, you are telling me that despite not having evidence that we have ever caused the extinction of any salt-water fish, we have to believe that most of them are going extinct in 25 years.

            Sorry, I’m not buying. I’m driven by evidence, and the evidence is just not there.

            The future is unknown, but we are getting better at conservation, not worse. In the EU there’s lots of regulations to protect fisheries and marine life from overfishing.

            I do not know what effect might have peak oil on fishing, but less diesel availability could mean less high seas fishing.

            • No, I am telling you that this is what this very scientific survey says. I took no part in any of it. It is their, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, data and work, not mine.

              But make no mistake, I would take their word over yours any day of the week.

              • Javier says:

                That’s not the question, Ron. I never ask anybody to believe me. There is no place for faith in science.

                The question is if you would take their word over the evidence, when the evidence says a very different thing.

                I already showed you the data. Zero marine fish extinctions known to us caused by man. Obviously the reality doesn’t sell newspapers.

  53. Apneaman says:

    Rate of ocean acidification due to carbon emissions is at highest for 300m years

    Overfishing and pollution are part of the problem, scientists say, warning that mass extinction of species may be inevitable

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/oct/03/ocean-acidification-carbon-dioxide-emissions-levels

    • Javier says:

      Gosh, we just got a “The Guardian” troll that is going to fill the entire blog with newspaper articles.

      Why don’t you just put a link to the environment section of “The Guardian” so anybody willing to commune with that shit can go directly there? Some of us prefer real science from peer-reviewed literature. At least that way we are not discussing about some journalist imagination.

      • aws. says:

        Some of us prefer real science from peer-reviewed literature.

        Wow… you really are a wingnut, Jav.

        • Javier says:

          Yes, I suppose that defending a scientific approach based on evidence is so extreme as to merit all sort of personal attacks. The scientific method has never been understood by the general population, most of which is scientifically illiterate and happy to embrace all sorts of beliefs.

          • The scientific approach was what the original article was all about.

            It was the scientific approach that you called bullshit. And the basis of your put-down was just your opinion, your opinion that fish can just move to another niche or habitat, or that they cannot possibly be fished into extinction.

            You pitted your opinion against the scientific approach Javier. Are you so locked into your opinion that you cannot realize that is exactly what you did?

            • Javier says:

              It is never my opinion, Ron, and that is the problem. I always have data to support my claims. If it was just my opinion it would be too easy to dismiss my claims and I would not be attacked personally. After all everybody is entitled to an opinion. The problem is that I can prove what I say, or at least present scientific evidence to support that it is possible.

              In this case the IUCN Red list of extinct animals is with me. Of the 65 fish species listed as extinct, 65 are freshwater species (or freshwater spawn). That’s a 100%

              Do you have any data to back up your opinion that sea fish can be fished to extinction? One species at least? What is the basis to believe that we are going to lose hundreds of species in the next 25 years when we do not know that we have lost a single one so far?

              So to say that salt-water fish is going extinct by 2048 is bullshit.

              • Fred Magyar says:

                The problem is that I can prove what I say, or at least present scientific evidence to support that it is possible.

                So can most people who comment on this site! Especially evidence to support what is possible. And it is highly possible than many species of marine fish could become extinct in the not too distant future.

                Do you have any data to back up your opinion that sea fish can be fished to extinction? One species at least? What is the basis to believe that we are going to lose hundreds of species in the next 25 years when we do not know that we have lost a single one so far?

                Even if you are trying to argue that there are very few marine fish species that we can unequivocally prove have gone extinct recently by using a very rigorous definition of extinct. It is for all practical purposes a denial of what seems to be happening which is the very real possibility of many marine fish species going extinct in the near future.

                And yes we do have evidence and proof that marine species have indeed become extinct and that probably many more are severely threatened!

                Fish and Fisheries
                Volume 4, Issue 1, pages 25–64, March 2003

                http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1467-2979.2003.00105.x/abstract

                Abstract
                Human impacts on the world’s oceans have been substantial, leading to concerns about the extinction of marine taxa. We have compiled 133 local, regional and global extinctions of marine populations. There is typically a 53-year lag between the last sighting of an organism and the reported date of the extinction at whatever scale this has occurred. Most disappearances (80%) were detected using indirect historical comparative methods, which suggests that marine extinctions may have been underestimated because of low-detection power. Exploitation caused most marine losses at various scales (55%), followed closely by habitat loss (37%), while the remainder were linked to invasive species, climate change, pollution and disease. Several perceptions concerning the vulnerability of marine organisms appear to be too general and insufficiently conservative. Marine species cannot be considered less vulnerable on the basis of biological attributes such as high fecundity or large-scale dispersal characteristics. For commercially exploited species, it is often argued that economic extinction of exploited populations will occur before biological extinction, but this is not the case for non-target species caught in multispecies fisheries or species with high commercial value, especially if this value increases as species become rare. The perceived high potential for recovery, high variability and low extinction vulnerability of fish populations have been invoked to avoid listing commercial species of fishes under international threat criteria. However, we need to learn more about recovery, which may be hampered by negative population growth at small population sizes (Allee effect or depensation) or ecosystem shifts, as well as about spatial dynamics and connectivity of subpopulations before we can truly understand the nature of responses to severe depletions. The evidence suggests that fish populations do not fluctuate more than those of mammals, birds and butterflies, and that fishes may exhibit vulnerability similar to mammals, birds and butterflies. There is an urgent need for improved methods of detecting marine extinctions at various spatial scales, and for predicting the vulnerability of species.

                • Javier says:

                  it is highly possible than many species of marine fish could become extinct in the not too distant future.

                  I never said it is impossible. I just said that we have no evidence that a mass extinction of salt-water fish is taking place, because we have no evidence of the extinction of a single salt-water fish species. We track thousands of species, including thousands of fish species. We don’t know of any salt-water fish species that has gone extinct. To argue that a lot of them are going extinct in the next decades is unwarranted.

                  That article that you cite says that sea fish extinctions are harder to detect, I agree. And that theoretically it is possible that we might drive some species to extinction, I also agree, but again that is theory, and science is built over evidence.

                  It also says that fishes may exhibit vulnerability similar to mammals, birds and butterflies. I don’t agree. They’ll have to prove it. We are land species and we find a lot easier to drive other land species to extinction, since we appropriate their habitat and resources.

                  Now let’s go to the paper here, and check the data.

                  It starts like this:
                  “Current evidence suggests that few marine organisms have become globally extinct in the past 300 years. Indeed, there is unequivocal documentary evidence for the extinction of only three mammals, five birds and four gastropods, while another 18 low-taxonomic level taxa could be considered extinct if their status as valid distinct species can be confirmed (Carlton et al. 1999). There are currently no known global marine fish extinctions, which is perhaps surprising given the long history and large scale of fisheries exploitation.”

                  On table I it lists 133 species, but only three fish are cited as globally extinct:

                  Anampses viridis
                  Azurina eupalama
                  Prototroctes oxyrhynchus

                  Anampses viridis is not extinct. This species is a case of a taxonomic mistake. New paper shows that these specimens incorrectly ascribed to a new species were actually the adult male terminal phase colour form (and junior synonym) of a common and widespread species A. caeruleopunctatus Rüppell 1829 (Russell, B. C., and M. T. Craig. 2013. Anampses viridis Valenciennes 1840 (Pisces: Labridae)—a case of taxonomic confusion and mistaken extinction. Zootaxa 3722:83–91).

                  Azurina eupalama, the Galapagos damsel might be extinct, but it is not our fault. Wikipedia has this to say:
                  “The El Niño–Southern Oscillation of 1982 and 1983 led to an increase in the water temperature near the Galápagos Islands. Plankton production was reduced for at least one year, leading to drops in the populations of many planktivorous fish, such as the Galápagos damsel. Despite intensive searches during the next decade, it was not seen again. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the fish as a critically endangered species, and one which is possibly extinct. It notes, however, that “populations of A. eupalama may still exist on islands off Peru that have warm temperate conditions, such as the Lobos Islands.”

                  Prototroctes oxyrhynchus is a freshwater spawn species, so it goes with the rest of freshwater extinctions.

                  The data is again supporting my view. The only possible salt-water fish extinction that we know is not certain and was caused by a weather event.

                  On table I of the 133

                  • Fred Magyar says:

                    Javier, your arguments remind of the joke about the guy who falls off the top of a 50 story building and as he is going past a window on the 25th floor shouts out to the people looking on in horror that all is still well!

                    Yeah, technically all is well until he reaches the sidewalk below…
                    That falling guy, much like you, is in deep denial of reality!

                  • Javier says:

                    Fred, except I do not say that all is well. I say that all is bad.

                    But the extinction issue is bogus. We are not in the 6th mass extinction, and we are not driving the fishes in the ocean to extinction. It is still in our hands to prevent those extinctions from taking place

                    And the Nature editorial agrees with me. Only if we allow this to continue we will cause irreversible damage. We should not allow this to continue.

                    On what exactly do you disagree with me?

                  • Fred Magyar says:

                    Only if we allow this to continue we will cause irreversible damage. We should not allow this to continue.

                    Ok Javier, let’s stop arguing, just let me me know what you think we can do to get off the path we are on… As far as I can see even if we have not yet caused any fish to go extinct we seem to be well on the way to doing just that! In practical terms what do you suggest might be done to stop this:

                    It’s a story that should make everybody want to invest in a fishing boat. A 489 pound bluefish tuna caught off the coast of Japan has just been sold for $1.76 million during an auction at Toyko’s Tsukiji fish market.

                    Read More: Tuna Sells For a Cool $1.76 Million Dollars | http://thefw.com/million-dollar-tuna/?trackback=tsmclip

                    Let’s all just put our money into better boats and technology for catching more Tuna as fast as we can. Since we haven’t caused any fish to go extinct yet and as you have mentioned the ocean is a really big place.

                  • Javier says:

                    Fred,

                    I do not need to propose what we should do, since it is already known.

                    The European Commission has a Common Fisheries Policy

                    It was introduced in the 1970’s and it has been tremendously effective in boosting the sustainability of the EU fisheries.

                    “Stocks may be renewable, but they are finite. Some of these fishing stocks, however, are being overfished. As a result, EU countries have taken action to ensure the European fishing industry is sustainable and does not threaten the fish population size and productivity over the long term.

                    Although it is important to maximise catches, there must be limits. We need to make sure that fishing practices do not harm the ability of fish populations to reproduce. The current policy stipulates that between 2015 and 2020 catch limits should be set that are sustainable and maintain fish stocks in the long term.

                    To this day, the impact of fishing on the fragile marine environment is not fully understood. For this reason, the CFP adopts a cautious approach which recognises the impact of human activity on all components of the ecosystem. It seeks to make fishing fleets more selective in what they catch, and to phase out the practice of discarding unwanted fish.”

                    You can get a lot more detail over fisheries management there. If the world were to follow suit and set similar rules we would advance enormously the conservation goals.

                    A lot of fish that is consumed in European markets comes from fish farming, an industry that is growing fast. Essentially we are domesticating fish. it is not an ideal solution but for the time being it releases a lot of pressure from fishing wild populations and it avoids the problem of unintended captures of species of no interest that are killed for no good.

                  • Dennis Coyne says:

                    Hi Fred and Javier,

                    Thank you again for the relatively polite and educational exchange of ideas.

                    I am not an expert and found it very educational.

                    It seems you are both in agreement that the 6th Mass extinction has not started yet, but that it may in the future if better environmental policies are not adopted more widely.

                    Whether this will occur is an open question but in this case Javier seems a little more optimistic, perhaps because he lives in Europe where there is better environmental policy than in North and South America.

                  • Fred Magyar says:

                    Thank you again for the relatively polite and educational exchange of ideas.

                    Hey Dennis, I will admit that I have not rigorously followed my own rules for polite and civil discourse on this site recently. I have lost my cool and allowed certain individuals to push my buttons. While upon occasion I find myself strongly disagreeing with Javier’s posts I have decided to make a conscious decision to stop the futile infantile ad hominems that many of us here are now engaging in with ever increasing frequency. To be very frank if that continues I myself will be moving on. I have better things to do with my time!

                    BTW here’s a good read for everyone here. I suggest everyone who is so sure of how right they are and especially those who apply names and lables to others here or try to put words in other people’s mouths…

                    https://medium.com/@SeanBlanda/the-other-side-is-not-dumb-2670c1294063#.tv2uzptoo

                  • Dennis Coyne says:

                    Hi Fred,

                    We all get frustrated from time to time.

                    I try not to resort to ad hominem, but I err more often than I should.

                    Some people (me for example) do not know what an ad hominem argument is, from Wikipedia:

                    An ad hominem (Latin for “to the man” or “to the person”[1]), short for argumentum ad hominem, is an attack on an argument made by attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, rather than attacking the argument directly. When used inappropriately, it is a logical fallacy in which a claim or argument is dismissed on the basis of some irrelevant fact or supposition about the author or the person being criticized.

                    For a fuller explanation see:

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

                    Fred knows this already, but there are others that do this (ad hominem) often, who I try to ignore.

              • Valley of Silicon Observer says:

                Javier,

                It’s always refreshing to know that my lack of faith in the human race is well founded. Your comments fill that need nicely.

                • Javier says:

                  Yes, some people do not stand to hear the truth, when it contradicts their beliefs. Many react with insults and attacks.

    • Clueless says:

      The oceans are not acidic and they never will be.

      • Dennis Coyne says:

        Hi Clueless,

        Acidification means the ocean has become less basic, are you just joking, in that case use a 🙂 for the sarcastically impaired.

      • Synapsid says:

        Clueless,

        Yep.

        It’s poor terminology, brought over from the chemists. It looks like pH is dropping in the surface waters in some regions; that shifts the pH toward the acidic end of the scale but it remains within the basic/alkaline part.

  54. T A McNeil says:

    Good post, except that in the next great extinction all species will be affected. There is no scientific reason or rationale that indicates we have any form of dispensation from the process and events. For sure this is the last century for civilisation, as we know it. Afterwards, place your bets, because we will certainly then be entering the dark and final days of humanity.

    “All great apes will be driven to extinction except one, Homo sapiens.” Begging to differ, but extinction for all great apes is inevitable.

    http://firstfinancialinsights.blogspot.ca/2012/03/human-extinction-is-inevitable.html

    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/day-earth-nearly-died/

    https://youtu.be/A620t61OTc8

    • TA, your link just stated “Human Extinction is Inevitable”. But it gave no reason why it is inevitable. It was all about the impossibility of exponential growth. Hell, we already knew that.

      Every once in a while, on this blog, we get people who make that claim. The claim that humans will go extinct in the near future. But they never give a reason. Oh they say things like “disease” or “plague” or whatever. But it is never explained how that will reach every niche on earth or why there will not be people who are immune.

      Of course if there is a nuclear accident that wipes out all life on earth then obviously humans will not survive. But save such an incident that does wipe out all life on earth then there is bound to be some survivors somewhere on earth. If you doubt that then explain exactly why.

      • T A McNeil says:

        RP I am not going to speculate as to the when’s or why’s of an extinction or de facto event(s), but just say that we should accept for starters that at some point, be it 50, 10,000 or one million years or more, one of these events will occur.

        Some possibilities include, for instance, the Andromeda galaxy is on a collision course with our own Milky Way or extreme man-made temperature changes could also make any form of human life impossible (another Permian event or worse). Our sun is also dying, so yes the outlying best-case (sic) extinction events may not be for 5 billion years.

        Anyway, in the best case de facto extinction where a thousand or more survive – what difference would it make? Or consider also, why was it so important to add another 5 billion of our species over the past 100 years? Did that make any difference? It certainly resulted in us destroying our habitat, at least, three times faster.

        Scientists indicate that over 99% of the species that ever made this planet home are now extinct. If anyone thinks that there is any chance that we can beat those odds, then I would be happy to sit with them at a poker table, anytime.

        The purpose in all of us recognizing that human extinction is inevitable should actually be beneficial to the way we conduct our business, assuming that we then act to do all that is possible to defer extinction or a similar event. That of course, is idealistic. On the other hand, if we deny the inevitability of extinction or a de facto extinction, in the form of civilization collapse leading to the dramatic die-off of billions, in short order, then we will continue our current course of business acting like drunken sailors doing all that is possible to make sure we achieve one of these two events as soon as possible. In my view, given the terrible human costs, both events are equivalent in their proportions – so what, if a few thousand are left behind to live perhaps in their own local perpetual dark ages, until the last curtain falls.

        So yes, human extinction or perhaps even worse, a de facto extinction is inevitable. This could come about for man-made or extraterrestrial reasons, at any time, Causes and timing are utterly speculative, but if we accept this ultimate fate then the hope is that we come together and begin to conduct our business in a way that not only defers the event date – but also, serves to mitigate the awful numerical human costs inherent in such an event.

        Otherwise, we face the short-lived perils and demise often associated with those of a drunken sailor.

        • Some possibilities include, for instance, the Andromeda galaxy is on a collision course with our own Milky Way…

          Are you joking or what? Yes, that will definitely happen, no doubt about it… in four billion years! The sun will last another 5 to 7 billion years before it goes nova, but it will heat up and make life unlivable on earth in one to two billion years. But good gravy, I was never talking about some far distant astronomical event, or any event that destroys all life on earth. I am speaking of Homo sapiens not going extinct, in the next few hundred years, while life is still livable on earth. So all this nonsense about the sun burning out is just nonsense because it has absolutely no relevance to the subject being discussed.

          Scientists indicate that over 99% of the species that ever made this planet home are now extinct. If anyone thinks that there is any chance that we can beat those odds, then I would be happy to sit with them at a poker table, anytime.

          And you obviously haven’t a clue as to why species go extinct. Just looking at numbers means nothing. Some species have existed for many millions of years, virtually unchanged. Do you know why? I am sure you have absolutely no idea. What chance is there that rats and/or mice go extinct within the next few hundred years. After all, 99% of all species that ever existed are now extinct. So would you, with your poker scenario, bet on mice going extinct in the next few hundred years? Obviously your poker scenario cannot exempt one species and not another.

          Yes, of course humans will go extinct, sometime in the far distant future. But our numbers are so great, and we occupy every livable niche on earth, and we are the most adaptable mammal that ever existed, that the odds of us going extinct in the next few hundred, or even the next few thousand years, is extremely remote.

          Of those 99% of species that went extinct, there was a reason every one of them went extinct. Their numbers were so few that they could not find a mate to procreate, their predators were too great, they could not adapt to the changing climate, or some other reason. But every species that went extinct went extinct for reason. And that reason was never because their numbers were too great, or they occupied every habitual niche on earth, or because they were able to adapt to almost any climate or any condition. In other words no species ever went extinct that possessed the numbers, niches, and adaptability that Homo sapiens possess.

          So if you disagree then it would behoove you to give some logical reason, and not quote historical statistics that have no relevance to Homo sapiens.

          And obviously I am assuming that no astronomical or nuclear event happens. It just goes without saying that if a ten mile meteorite slams into the earth, we are goners. (The one that done in the dinosaurs was only six miles wide. We might survive that. Possible but unlikely.)

          • T A McNeil says:

            As I said from the start I am not going to speculate on the when’ s and why’s of an extinction or a de facto extinction events. I see little difference between the two, particularly as the latter could involve the die-off of billions of people in fairly short order. The latter situation could leave just a handful or thousands of homo sapiens living in small pockets around the planet in a perpetual dark age. So what? Who really cares given what was lost?

            You seem to think that because they survived to live in terrible medieval conditions and that this is some way is a satisfactory outcome. My view is that the dramatic loss of billions of people that could have perhaps been prevented had we acted more wisely is equivalent to a complete extinction event. Moreover, there is little likelihood that the current form of civilization would ever be restored for survivors as the needed raw resources would have been completely depleted. In the end, we have a difference of opinion or interpretation of possible events.

            Secondly, I think that you are restricting the possible causes of extinction to extraterrestrial events or nuclear wars. You also have excluded climate change, super volcanoes or other man-made interventions for some reason? I, however, remain of the view that anything can happen so again, all this is a difference of opinion or interpretation of possibilities.

            Lastly, you assert that mice have some sort of dispensation or immunity from the perils of extinction. Clearly you have an authoritative source or access to higher power to support this belief. Could you walk me through the basis for this preferential exemption?

            https://youtu.be/VOMWzjrRiBg

          • Synapsid says:

            Ron,

            Just a small point: the Sun won’t go nova. You need a companion star to do that. It’ll go through a red-giant stage and then to planetary nebula surrounding a white dwarf.

            We return to our regular programing.

            • Just a small point: the Sun won’t go nova.

              Okay, perhaps I was wrong here. But the term “nova” does not necessarily mean a white dwarf must be involved. Nova simply means “New Star” or what the Chinese called a “Guest Star”.

              NOVA – Astronomy

              Nova, plural Novas, or Novae, any of a class of exploding stars whose luminosity temporarily increases from several thousand to as much as 100,000 times its normal level. A nova reaches maximum luminosity within hours after its outburst and may shine intensely for several days or occasionally for a few weeks, after which it slowly returns to its former level of luminosity. Stars that become novas are nearly always too faint before eruption to be seen with the unaided eye. Their sudden increase in luminosity, however, is sometimes great enough to make them readily visible in the nighttime sky. To observers, such objects may appear to be new stars; hence the name nova from the Latin word for “new.”

              • Synapsid says:

                Ron,

                I’m not referring to a Type 1a supernova.

                A nova is a white dwarf with a companion star from which it draws material. The nova eruptions are on the surface of the white dwarf and do not disrupt it, so the nova can recur.

                Type 1a supernovae occur in a similar setting when the white dwarf is near the Chandrasekhar limit. If the mass of the white dwarf plus material drawn from the companion exceeds that limit the white dwarf detonates.

              • Synapsid says:

                Corrections:

                Type I not Type 1a;

                explosion not eruptions. Hydrogen fusion occurs, at the surface of the white dwarf, in the material drawn from the companion star.

              • Don Wharton says:

                Ron, I think Synapsid is right on this one. The term nova refers to explosive stellar events. Our sun will grow very slowly over billions of years. It will not be explosive.

                • Doug Leighton says:

                  Sort of: the sun remains in Main Sequence for about 10 billion years (until the hydrogen has fused to form helium) but when the core is hot enough for the helium to fuse to form carbon the outer layers begin to expand to become a Red Giant after which the core becomes a White Dwarf (eventually a Black Dwarf). The Red Giant phase is quite short; a few thousand to one billion years.

                  • Synapsid says:

                    Doug L,

                    There you go with your Thor stuff again. The Black Dwarves were the Svartalfar in Icelandic. The Icelanders still keep them in mind, I’ve read, in things like laying out roads. I don’t know how likely that is but I hope it’s true.

                    Astronomically, the Universe isn’t old enough for black dwarves to have formed, if memory serves. Is “black dwarf” actually a term in astronomy?

            • Doug Leighton says:

              “You need a companion star to do that.”

              Well sort of: what you really need is mass, 8 to 12 times the mass of our Sun. When a star this big runs out of fuel it fails via core collapse leading to a supernovae. As you say, closer to home, the sun will become a red giant extending to here (to Earth’s orbit) and we will be swallowed — a toasty time for all.

          • Javier says:

            Actually, Ron, the most probable cause of Homo sapiens extinction is fairly easy to the determine:

            The same reason that caused the extinction of all the rest of the Homo genre species. Between 50,000 to 500,000 years from now, a new species of Homo will evolve and then will proceed to kill all the Homo sapiens to the last. A fitting ending.

            • Arceus says:

              This will occur faster than you think – perhaps as soon as decades.

              Human-animal chimeras have been a reality for the past few years in more than a few countries.

              http://www.technologyreview.com/news/545106/human-animal-chimeras-are-gestating-on-us-research-farms/

              • Arceus says:

                Once animal DNA gets into our breeding pool, there will be no return. The DNA of the human race will becomes corrupted or at least forever altered, and at some point very few “pure humans” will remain. There is no telling where the “human race” is headed at that point.

            • The same reason that caused the extinction of all the rest of the Homo genre species. Between 50,000 to 500,000 years from now, a new species of Homo will evolve and then will proceed to kill all the Homo sapiens to the last. A fitting ending.

              Are you serious? A new species of Homo will evolve and kill us all. I am rolling in the floor laughing my ass off. But the sad part Javier, is I believe you are serious.

              You said upthread: I am a biologist and a conservationist. You may be a conservationist but you are not a biologist. Well, not an evolutionary biologist anyway. No evolutionary biologist could possibly believe that a new species of Homo will evolve to kill us all.

              Homo sapiens evolving to kill off a few thousand Neanderthals is one thing, but another species evolving to kill off 7 billion Homo sapiens is a different matter altogether.

              But I am glad you made your opinion clear here Javier. I will now know how to evaluate anything else you have to say.

              • Javier says:

                There won’t be 7 billion humans when that happens.

                In a few thousand years this interglacial will come to an end. During a glacial period agriculture becomes very improductive. There is a reason why agriculture was not discovered for 40,000 years, and then suddenly about 10-6,000 years ago it was discovered independently at least 7 times.

                A post peak oil glacial world will not support much more than a 100 million humans. What do your calculations of sustainability say the planet can support?

                It will also create isolated pockets that can favor allopatric speciation.

                The world can only support one global predatory species with multi-niche adaptability. In the past it supported several local species (late erectus, floresiensis, denisovian, neanderthal and sapiens), but once one became global, it quickly drove all the rest to extinction.

                Many species go extinct because they are supplanted by their descendant species. I can’t see why you find that so difficult to believe. Most mammal species last less than a million years. We are not going to be different.

                And there is a precedent, as the world was very rich in hominins during the Miocene and Pleistocene, and the last ones went the way of the megafauna.

                • Many species go extinct because they are supplanted by their descendant species. I can’t see why you find that so difficult to believe.

                  We are not many species, we are Homo sapiens. We are far from your “average” species. If we were average our numbers would not have increased to over 7 billion. There is a reason why some species evolve into different species. Evolutionary change just does not happen willy-nilly. It has to be caused.

                  Most mammal species last less than a million years. We are not going to be different.

                  Because we are so damn obviously different. Until Homo sapiens evolved, every species competed, for food and territory with every other species. Then an animal evolved that had such an advantage over all other species that it began wiping them out, taking over their territory and food source. We are Homo colossus. We are not average!

                  And there is a precedent, as the world was very rich in hominins during the Miocene and Pleistocene,…

                  Rich? Compared to what? Homo sapiens are, by far, the most intelligent species to ever evolve. Other hominins did not have the brain power that Homo colossus has. That’s how we wiped them out.

                  Most mammal species last less than a million years. We are not going to be different.

                  Javier, that is the problem with almost everyone who thinks we are on the verge of extinction. They usually start out by saying, something t the effect: “The average species…..” We are not average! Were we average we would not be wiping out all the other species. Were we average we, and our animals, would not have gone from one tenth of one percent of the terrestrial vertebrate biomass 10,000 years ago to over 97 percent today. Were we average we would not occupy every habitual niche on earth. Were we average we would not have been able to adapt to every climate on every continent on earth. (Except Antarctica of course.)

                  So you ask “Why should be any different?” Good god man, if you cannot see the difference then there is no hope for you. We are different because we possess the one survival weapon that no other species possesses. That weapon was what enabled us to occupy every habitual niche on earth. That weapon enabled us to destroy any animal or species in our path. That weapon was, and is, our brain power. That Javier, is why we are different.

                  • Javier says:

                    The problem Ron, is that evolution never stops. We are evolving now. Some changes are evident in only 10,000 years. Our brains and our bodies have decreased in size since the Stone Age.
                    Scientific American: Why Have Our Brains Started to Shrink?

                    The rate of evolution is inversely proportional to generation time. With our generation time, it is pretty safe to say that in 500,000 years to 1 million years there won’t be any Homo sapiens left on the planet. This is not being on the verge of extinction. This is 2 to 5 times the current span of our species so it is an awful lot of time. Of course it can always be less.

                    There are only three possible outcomes:
                    1. We go extinct and there is no other Homo to replace us. The genre goes extinct with us.
                    2. We go extinct and another Homo replaces us. This is the possibility that I presented. Cladogenesis followed by extinction of H. sapiens.
                    3. We change into a different species. Anagenesis.

                    I favor number 2 because it is a lot more common, although you have a point that Homo sapiens is no typical species and it is thought that Australopithecus anamensis is an example of anagenesis, so we cannot rule out number 3, nor number 1.

                    But what it is pretty safe is to assume that come one million years give or take, if there are still Homo in the planet they won’t be like us. Homo sapiens will have passed away.

                  • The rate of evolution is inversely proportional to generation time.

                    Yes, this is true. Generation time places limits on the rate of change of evolution. But this is not what drives evolution. In fact you completely ignored that fact in your post. That is you ignored the driver of evolutionary change. You have completely ignored it in every post you have posted on the subject of evolution. Which makes me suspect, Javier, that you have no idea what drives evolution.

                    Do you?

                  • Javier says:

                    I think I do, Ron.

                    Selection is the main mechanism that acts to produce evolution from natural variability.

                    Selection acts through differential reproduction, not through the survival of the fittest as it became popular. You only need differential reproduction for evolution to act.

                    For example. If tall people start having less children even by a small percentage, on the long run humans will become shorter.

                    As humans do not reproduce equally, evolution does not stop. We are evolving, we have always been, we will always be.

                    The speed of evolution depends on the generation time and on the effect of selective pressure on differential reproduction rates.

                  • Selection acts through differential reproduction, not through the survival of the fittest as it became popular.

                    Javier, you got it half right. Selection, or sexual selection, is about half of what drives evolution. I times of plenty it is perhaps 90 percent or greater of what drives evolution. In times of scarcity and stress, it is perhaps 10 percent of what drives evolution.

                    You are dead wrong about survival of the fittest. It is the primary driver, or at least in times of stress or scarcity. And such times make up at least 90 percent of evolutionary history of all species.

                    I suspected you would not agree with that. I have read dozens of biologists and they, to the man… or woman… agree with me. Of course there are other drivers.

                    Steven Rose: Evolution is a fact; natural selection is a theory about how evolution occurs. But there are many factors that lead to evolutionary change and natural selection – and competition for scarce resources (the very Darwinian mechanism) – is only one of them.

                    Selection, sexual or otherwise, did not change the beaks of Darwin’s finches, survival did.

                    One further note. Genetic drift plays a small part also, a very small part.

                  • Javier says:

                    Ron,

                    Evolution doesn’t care at all if you survive or not. It only cares if you have progeny or not and how much. Of course to have progeny you have to survive until you have it, but the only factor that evolution cares is that you pass your genes along. Once you are done reproducing you are as good as dead to evolution.

                    Why don’t you listen or read this radio talk with John Hawks, one of the best paleoanthropologists around on the issue of Modern Humans Still Evolving, and Faster Than Ever? I agree a 100% with everything he says there.

                  • Evolution doesn’t care at all if you survive or not.

                    Bullshit! The dead do not reproduce.

                    Bye now. I am through discussing this subject with you.

                • Dennis Coyne says:

                  Hi Javier,

                  Another ice age in a few thousand years is not very likely. Atmospheric CO2 is likely to remain above 280 ppm for at least the next 50,000 years and unless the Milankovitch cycles change from what has been occurring for the last 800,000 years we will not see another glacial maximum for a long time. Note that at least for the past 800,000 years there have been no glacial maximums with atmospheric carbon dioxide above 250 ppm (usually it was about 180 to 190 ppm). It takes a long time (35,000 years or more) for oceanic and geologic processes to remove carbon from the atmosphere, a couple of thousand years is not going to do it. See figure 1 in

                  https://geosci.uchicago.edu/~archer/reprints/archer.2005.fate_co2.pdf

                  • Javier says:

                    Dennis,

                    The carbon dioxide hypothesis is very likely to be wrong. In 2.6 million years there is no precedent for a glacial period not showing up. I would not bet against that.

                    Of course we will not know, but we may live long enough to see the the carbon dioxide hypothesis discredited.

                  • Dennis Coyne says:

                    Hi Javier,

                    I am not suggesting there will never be an ice age, I interpret a few thousand as 2 or 3 thousand years, if you meant 200,000 or 300,000 years, I would not consider that a few thousand years. The carbon dioxide hypothesis matches pretty well with the evidence from 1880 to 2015, once one considers other factors such as changes in the angular momentum of the Earth, changes in total solar irradiance, changes in the southern oscillation index, and changes in aerosols (mostly due to Volcanoes.)

              • Ralph says:

                There was significant interbreeding between Sapiens and Neanderthals, resulting in modern humans being a hybrid between the two, about 90% Sapiens (IIRC). Chimeras are not a new species, they are an animal where individual cells are a one or other species, in the same animal. If they have offspring, they are one species or the other, not a chimera.

                Introducing individual genes from another species will not make us a new species. New gene variants are introduced all the time into the human gene pool by mutation, some survive and thrive, many remain dormant, many die out again. Viruses can and do permanently introduce genetic change into our cells all the time, a few of these get into the germ line and cause DNA changes, mutations, etc. At the molecular level genetics is extremely messy and chaotic. There is no clear definition of what a species is.

  55. oldfarmermac says:

    An outfit such as ISIS might be capable of providing us with a Pearl Harbor Wake Up Event by destroying a major oil terminal.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/fires-at-libyan-oil-terminals-extinguished-1452396613

    I read a novel once, the name of which escapes me now, in which the good guys managed to get a small artillery piece onto a hill top near a big enemy tank farm, and destroy the whole farm in a matter of minutes. I showed it to an old soldier friend, who read that passage, and said, absolutely no problem, other than getting there. If there was a hilltop, or tall building nearby, and they managed to get the gun in place , ten minutes would be more than ample to punch a huge hole in a dozen or more tanks and start that many uncontrollable fires, even though the tanks have individual fire berms etc. There is only so much equipment, and only so many men available at any given place at any given time.

    Nowadays the gun does not have to be fired line of sight. With spotter planes, or a spotter drone, or even a man spotting from the ground near the target,the gun can be as much as ten or even fifteen miles away. And if it were the very most modern type, in that case the gun can aim itself, and score one hit right after another using GPS.

    I have no idea just how hard it would be to conceal such a gun in a large truck, and get it within that distance of a refinery or tank farm, but a few days back, terrorists or freedom fighters, take your choice, managed to load a water tanker with explosives and drive it right up to a police training center and kill fifty people and injure a lot more. Of course they were expecting THAT truck, it apparently made regular deliveries.

    WAKE UP!!! events of the violent sort are in the cards in my opinion. Hopefully they will be violent enough, and numerous enough that we will take notice.

    Our best but still rather slim hope of successfully transitioning to a sustainable economy is that REALITY delivers a series of hard kicks to our collective butts.

    We are not going to RUN OUT of anything in particular in the NEAR term, especially if we husband it wisely, and get to work fixing things so we can get by with a lot less of it in the medium term, and entirely without it eventually.

    I believe it would be easily possible to cut our use of oil for personal transportation by half within ten years simply by taxing the hell out of large cars and trucks and giving a tax credit to EVERYBODY who wishes to buy an electric or plug in hybrid vehicle.

    We ought to be doing something along the same lines when it comes to upgrading the energy efficiency of every building expected to be used for a few more decades so that it costs the owner little or nothing to upgrade his lighting, heating, cooling systems etc. . This would keep the blue collar tradesmen busy during slow times, and amply pay back the folks who do NOT own buildings by helping keep the cost of fuel down, and cutting down on air pollution, etc.

    Depending on whose figures you use, air pollution kills somewhere around sixty thousand people a year in the USA before their time, every year.

    • Glenn Stehle says:

      oldfarmermac said:

      I believe it would be easily possible to cut our use of oil for personal transportation by half within ten years simply by taxing the hell out of large cars and trucks and giving a tax credit to EVERYBODY who wishes to buy an electric or plug in hybrid vehicle.

      Oh well. Bring on the sin taxes for gasoline!

      Placing sin taxes on gasoline would not be “easily possible,” given existing political realities.

      Can you imagine congress passing a $10/gallon sin tax on gasoline so that “NOT subsidies” can be lavished on much more costly EVs, which without state intervention cannot compete with more economical ICE vehicles? Household transportation costs would shoot into the blue empyrean.

      The chances of this happening are about the same as my preferred solution, which is to force people out of private vehicles into public transportation.

      Neither one has a snowball’s chance in hell of happening given current realities.

      But I suppose Big Brother is waiting patiently in the wings, ready to pounce if events present him the opportunity.

      • Valley of Silicon Observer says:

        Glenn, give up the rants on EV susbsidies. EV sales are a drop in a very large bucket and the subsidies are an even smaller drop in the gargantuan federal budget.

        But you are correct, there will be no taxes raised on gasoline — not even enough of an increase to properly fund the maintenance of our interstate highway system. Sin tax? Stop with the rhetorical histrionics. And sin conjures up all kinds of bad behavior. People who buy big cars and trucks aren’t bad people. They are just responding to low gasoline prices.

        What we’re talking about is the long term viability of our economy. And, yes, I think it’s wasteful (not sinful) to see all the huge SUVs (4 wheel drive in San Jose?) and monster pickups that are used primarily for commuting on level, snow-free highways.

        But I do like the reference to Big Brother. Haven’t heard that one is quite a long time. Takes me back to the anti-nuke days. Good times, good times.

        • oldfarmermac says:

          I should have phrased my comment somewhat differently. It will NOT be easy, for now, or for the next few years, to put a high tax on oversized cars and personal trucks.

          It might be possible to enact such taxes, and a higher fuel tax as well, a decade or more down the road. Hard times tend to promote populism, and most people in this country might not be able to AFFORD an oversized car or truck ten years from now. If so, they may well be in favor of poking the ones who CAN in the eye with a sharp stick in the form of a gas hog tax. Any body who believes such a sea change in public attitudes is out of the question is out of touch with the rate at which social values can change these days.

          But IF it were possible to enact such taxes, and make them high enough to cut the sales of these fuel hog vehicles to the bone, THEN it WOULD be easy to cut our use of oil in half within a decade or so, by also subsidizing the adoption of plug in hybrid and pure electric vehicles.

          I am basically a free market type myself, although I may not always sound like one. In the last analysis, I am a realist.

          I am also technically literate, and understand ,one, that oil WILL be in critically short supply someday, and , two, that the free market does not NECESSARILY work fast enough to allow us to substitute new technologies and new lifestyles quickly enough to prevent REAL TROUBLE.

          A REAL free market advocate does not support NONEXISTENT free markets.

          If our current medical care system, which is SUPPOSED to be based on free market principles, really worked in such a fashion as to keep this country and the people who live in it healthy, I would support it. There is hardly any free market at all in American health care.

          Our current health care system DOES NOT WORK worth a DAMN, unless you have plenty of money. So speaking as a literate conservative, I support changing it in such a way that it DOES work. It is not morally acceptable to have countless people continually suffering from illness and accident because they are unable to earn a LOT of money. Furthermore, the cost of treating them is likely to be more than offset by their being more productive, on average, and thus working rather than living on welfare.

          I cannot see any reason at all why oil prices might not SPIKE as sharply as they crashed, a few years down the road. Such a spike could easily bring on a really bad recession, or trigger a full blown economic depression. The consequences could range all the way up to hot warfare between various nations.

          You don’t have to be a socialist, or believe in the Nanny State, to understand that our welfare and our national security are at stake, and that therefore we REALLY need to at least cut back on our oil consumption to the point we can produce just about all we need domestically, and buy maybe a little from a few real friends, such as Canada.

          I am often called a war monger and a right wing fanatic, etc , in other forums, for being in favor of maintaining a strong standing military- a VERY strong one, such as we have. If supporting electrification of personal transportation makes me a socialist, or leftie, then does supporting a strong military makes me a hard core conservative ?

          Can I be both?

          The price of supporting our military establishment, in my estimation, is modest, compared to the risk our not having it. Sky Daddy alone knows what the international scene would look like if it weren’t for the fact that Uncle Sam has the biggest stick, but I am personally damned sure the world would be in far WORSE shape if any other country were the so called sole superpower.

          Good sense ought to trump right and left wing partisanship.

          • Glenn Stehle says:

            oldfarmermac said:

            Hard times tend to promote populism, and most people in this country might not be able to AFFORD an oversized car or truck ten years from now.

            But they’ll be able to AFFORD the $71,100 to $106,200 pricetag of one of these?

            Telsa Model S

            • Glenn Stehle says:

              Or the $132,000 to $142,000 pricetag of one of these?

              Telsa Model X

            • Glenn Stehle says:

              Or even the $37,500 pricetag of one of these?

              Chevy Bolt

            • Fred Magyar says:

              Come on, why think small? Go for the fully tricked out Tesla S P90D for about 140K

            • Glenn Stehle says:

              When they can buy one of these for $16,725?

              Honda Fit

              • oldfarmermac says:

                Oh , to be such an optimistic fool as to believe that gasoline will always be plentiful and cheap, and to believe that lots more CO2 in the atmosphere is good for us!

                Resource wars are no doubt good for us too.

                The very happiest people I know are also tend to be among the dumbest, with some notable exceptions of course.

                They don’t have SENSE ENOUGH to worry about the long term consequences of short term thinking.They live one day to the next, and one paycheck to the next, and seldom give a serious thought to a time past next week , or maybe their next holiday.

                Why DON’T YOU tell us Mr Smarty GS, what you think of the subsidies lavished on airports, and on mass transit, and the money we spend protecting our access to imported oil, and the money paid to farmers to subsidize cheap food, and money spent on charity to provide medical care for poor people, and money spent subsidizing housing, and the electrical grid, and actually pretty goddamned near EVERYTHING that matters on the grand scale in modern life , at one time or another?

                The money spent subsidizing things that don’t even really matter, on the grand scale, such as foot ball stadiums, and art museums, and city symphonies that play classical music?

                Do you believe in eternal growth , GS?

                ( I enjoy and patronize all this sort of thing, but I can say without a SHADOW of doubt that these things exist almost solely for the benefit of the middle and upper classes, with the exception of sports stadiums. I can’t even remember the last time I met a truly poor person, or a genuine redneck, at a symphony or art show. )

                And poor people do damned little flying, so far as airports go. Tickets aren’t THAT cheap.Any time you see a really poor person on a plane, it is usually because they are on their way to a funeral or the bedside of a dying relative.

                I paid almost two grand for my first computer and accessories.

                A few weeks ago I bought a new one, with all the same accessories, for five hundred bucks, that outperforms the old one by a factor of ten.

                Now it MIGHT BE that the free market will provide us with viable alternatives to the over sized car and personal trucks we are so fond of here in the USA , before oil gets to be in critically short supply, and very expensive.

                And it might NOT work out that way.

                We might want to THINK about the consequences of having to deal with a long term or permanent oil supply crisis with a national car and pickup truck fleet that burns twice as much gasoline as really necessary.

                The shit is going to hit the fan, sooner or later, when it comes to affordable oil.

                Maybe five percent of the people of this country who drive will be able to buy a new much more energy efficient vehicle when that time comes, if it comes suddenly. The other ninety five percent of us are going to be stuck driving whatever we already have.

                It MIGHT be a damned good policy to subsidize the ev and plug in hybrid segments of the auto industry. Personally I believe this IS good policy.

                What GS believes is hard to say.

                • Glenn Stehle says:

                  Hey oldfarmermac,

                  Excuse me, but it’s not me, but you and your Team Green cohort who believe a green-washed BAU is possible. I seriously doubt that everybody who now drives an ICE vehicle will be able to afford to drive a $37,500 to $140,000 EV in a post peak oil world.

                  “Sustainability” is an ideology which harkens back to the scholastic enterprise of Medieval Christianity.

                  In the 14th century, nominalism tore the rationalistic veil off the face of scholasticism, revealing a capricious, fearsome, unknowable, unpredictable world, unconstrained by reason, and indifferent to good and evil.

                  My prediction is that when the carbon party is over, the party is over. No renewables party will arise like the Phoenix from the ashes of its predecessor.

                  • oldfarmermac says:

                    So you believe we ought to just fucking give up and roll over and DIE quietly?

                    Forgive me for being BLUNT, but I must conclude that you are no less than a goddamned fool, who thinks HE can tell the world what will come to pass; or else you are just a fossil fuel shill, who wishes to delay the adoption of any new tech that enables us to get away from fossil fuels faster.

                    Methinks, come to think of it, that you have dropped hints that you have skin in the oil biz.

                    You have NEVER to the best of my recollection EVER said anything useful or constructive in this forum, or even asked a question that would lead to some useful discussion.

                    I on the other hand generally remember to include a few precautionary remarks.

                    We may indeed be doomed to see the end of life as we know it in the next couple of generations, maybe for the ENTIRE human population.

                    I have personally posted my opinion here, backed up by my own professional training, to the effect that Old Man B A U is a dead man walking for most of the human race.

                    But there IS a REAL race of the horse racing sort going on, and there IS a very real possibility that SOME of us are going to win it.

                    Your comments are not even logical, you just repeat the same worn out bullshit as if it were destined to be fact engraved in stone, forever.

                    ” I seriously doubt that everybody who now drives a car will be able to afford to drive a $37,500 to $140,000 car in a post peak oil world.”

                    Well MR NINCOMPOOP, that sort of endlessly repeated argument might win the day on an elementary school playground, but the audience here is a bit more sophisticated, and understands that the price of electrified vehicles is coming down, and coming down fast, and will continue to come down for the easily fore see able future.

                    The audience here also understands that the less fuel a well off guy uses, the cheaper it will be, everything else held equal, for everybody else, including the guys who drive old ICE clunkers, such as yours truly.

                    The audience here generally understands that air pollution kills, that resource wars kill, and that oil is a depleting one time gift of nature.

                    You are absolutely and totally uninterested in any sort of USEFUL discussion of any possible future path.

                    It is not given to us, today, to solve all the future problems of humanity for all time. It is given to us to do today what we can to improve our own circumstances, and the circumstances of future generations, as best we can.

                    You are very good at googling up stuffed shirt quotes, but it seems perfectly obvious to me that you are scientifically and technically dangerously close to ILLITERATE.

                    You are also either deliberately blind when it comes to the economic life cycle of automobiles. I will never pay thirty grand for ANY car, but there is a DISTINCT possibility that I will be buying a USED Chevy Volt when my current car finally dies. Ten grand will be enough to get one that will last out my need for it.

                    The new six figure Tesla will eventually be the low five figure special on used car lots.

                  • Glenn Stehle says:

                    oldfarmermac said:

                    The audience here generally understands…that resource wars kill….

                    This from the same guy who, less than a day ago, had this to say:

                    I am often called a war monger and a right wing fanatic, etc , in other forums, for being in favor of maintaining a strong standing military- a VERY strong one, such as we have….

                    The price of supporting our military establishment, in my estimation, is modest, compared to the risk our not having it. Sky Daddy alone knows what the international scene would look like if it weren’t for the fact that Uncle Sam has the biggest stick, but I am personally damned sure the world would be in far WORSE shape if any other country were the so called sole superpower.

                    So yea. I get it. You’re out to save the world, to transform it! And it matters little whether it be through your hallowed U.S. security state, or your equally hallowed EVs.

                    Such millenarianism provides a template for how to justify tomorrow’s action while ignoring yesterday’s catastrophe. Nonetheless, it’s a highly romantic, and eminently idealistic, formula: All one has to do is grasp the nuances of possibilities, while at the same time ignoring the past and present.

                    Here’s how the US’s most influential war monger, Henry Kissinger, sums up the philosophy:

                    Conjecture is a preferable foundation for action than data and facts, for an overreliance on information can be paralyzing. The dilemma of any statesman is that he can never be certain about the probable course of events. In reaching a decision, he must inevitably act on the basis of intuition that is inherently unprovable….

                    When technique becomes exalted over purpose, men become the victims of their complexities. They forget that every great achievement in every field was a vision before it became a reality….

                    An expert respects ‘facts’ and considers them something to be adjusted to, perhaps to be manipulated, but not to be transcended… In the decades ahead, the West will have to lift its sights to encompass a more embracing concept of reality… There are two kinds of realists: those who manipulate facts and those who create them. The West requires nothing so much as men able to create their own reality.

                    For Kissinger, the past was nothing but “a series of meaningless incidents.” One needed not information but intuition, not facts but hunches, not reason but a soul sense, a world feeling.

                    With this philosophy on board, the policies of the US and the world’s violence and disorder became entirely unrelated, especially when it comes to accounting for the consequences of our own actions.

                    For instance, blowback from any given action — arming anti-Soviet jihadists in Afghanistan, for example, or supplying Saddam Hussein with the sarin gas he used on Iran — is rinsed clean of its source and given a new origin story, blamed on generalized chaos that exists beyond our borders.

              • wimbi says:

                Fit was what we had when we went to Leaf. Leaf has done very well indeed, all our needs for near nothing, Fit went to granddaughter, who loves it, but spent $1300 for gas.

                Sure we invested in the PV to feed the leaf. But free from there on.

                A friend just bought a used leaf identical to mine for 11K. I think that’s a better buy, all things considered, including the life we bequeath to the grandkids.

        • Glenn Stehle says:

          Valley of Silicon Observer says:

          Sin tax? Stop with the rhetorical histrionics. And sin conjures up all kinds of bad behavior. People who buy big cars and trucks aren’t bad people. They are just responding to low gasoline prices.

          I have no idea what you believe a “sin tax” to be. Apparently you believe it to be some kind of a tax levied to punish “bad people.”

          That’s not the intent of a sin tax at all. The putative intent is to discourage the use of a product which is deemed to be harmful, by making it more expensive.

          Bloomberg explains in this article about the new tax the Mexican governmnet recently began levying on soft drinks:

          One of the world’s highest soda taxes appears to be working. After just one year, purchases of sugary drinks in Mexico are down 12 percent, a new study shows….

          Other governments — including in the U.S. — should be encouraged to impose similar taxes and take other strong actions to curb soda drinking….

          The results of the Mexico study (which was funded in part by Bloomberg Philanthropies) are encouraging but not surprising. Raising the price of alcohol and tobacco through so-called “sin taxes,” which nearly all governments do, has proven to be an effective way to discourage their use.

          http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2016-01-08/mexico-s-soda-tax-success

    • Longtimber says:

      Washington publicly acknowledge the significance of the MOBILE S400? Na.. Missile commanding 250km above and 600km offensive kill range. Ubiquitous Space weapon manufactured and deployed like popcorn, too fast to touch from below and No Radar to jam on the way down. Target selected… Hasta La Vista BABY .. Now deployed in Syria courteously of Turkey downing a F16. Anyone wanna guess where and how many Iran has? No wonder why SA wants Nukes. Need to boost oil price? Coming soon to a theater near you.
      https://youtu.be/goPmdbBZetQ
      Russia learned a most valuable lesson in Afghanistan when you know who armed Radicals with Shoulder SAMS. Can you say blowback?

      • Rational Analyst says:

        Longtimber,

        Believe you me, you are worrying about nothing, on at least two levels.

        1. This system can be easily rendered impotent and thus irrelevant if need be.

        2. Arguing about who has the biggest schlong in the homeless shelter shower while the Anthropocene rages on is just silly.

        • Longtimber says:

          The S400 seems to be a game changer – unless neutralized – but are numerous and mobile and perhaps underground somewhere in Iran as per those photos. Perhaps tit for tat for a cruse missile, but clears sky of advanced fighters nation’s can’t afford to loose. Stabilizing or destabilizing – depends on which team you pick. It’s offensive capabilities are not acknowledged.

    • Jimmy says:

      @OFM ISIS wouldn’t need an actual artillery piece. A 80mm or 120mm mortar would do just fine for taking out a tank farm from several miles away. One road side bomb would dispersuade any first responders.

  56. Longtimber says:

    Petro Chess

  57. Link to a decent blog post about recent events in venezuela http://caracaschronicles.com/2016/01/10/a-crisis-on-two-clocks/

    I give 50/50 odds to significant unrest within the first semester 2016. Significant enough to cut about half the country’s oil production. Low chance that all of it will be shut in. The Cuban dictatorship is making a hard nosed play to have a dictatorship installed.

  58. Pingback: Olduvai.ca

  59. Clueless says:

    Ron. Could we have a rule here? Any post regarding anything that projects beyond the next 25 years is deleted. No one knows the next year. Let alone the next 10. So a limit of 25 seems reasonable.

    • wimbi says:

      I second the motion, with 10 yrs as a rational max far in excess of any value in the prediction.

    • In that case we shouldn’t discuss global warming. In 24.9 years we will be at a near optimum condition. 🐸

    • Verwimp says:

      I don’t agree. Regarding the finiteness of oil, the longer the timeframe, the more accurate the projections may be: 250 years from now it’s all gone, and the production numbers equal zero!
      I think it’s just cool to read about, and to try to make more elaborated guesstimations on the shorter timeframe.

  60. shallow sand says:

    John Kilduff, who is now calling for $18 WTI says US government needs to intervene.

    Easy to do. 10 day per month proration on all US Producers in February, March and April, combined with limit on imports of 7.5 million bopd for those three months.

    Problem solved.

    He says it is a matter of national security. I’d be interested to hear from the board as to his views, as well as my solution.

    I think we could shut our floods down every third day and be ok.

    • shallow sand says:

      There would also be a moratorium on completions for the next three months.

      • Watcher says:

        Oh wait! What’s that? A government bailout?

        Whodathunk it?

        • shallow sand says:

          It is not a government bailout in a sense that no taxpayer money is involved.

          Further, until the US became a net importer of crude, the Texas RRC governed Texas in this manner, with Texas being the largest crude producing state. There were months where Texas operators could not operate even 10 days per month.

          My suggestion will never happen, and primarily the reason I suggested it is that with only thirty days of shut in production, and no extraordinary imported crude, the US would go from “record high inventories” to “record low inventories.” Shutting in all US production for 30 days would remove around 275 million bopd from inventories, assuming stable demand. It would also be the equivalent of removing 750 bopd from 2016 US C + C supply.

          Primarily, it would cause immense short covering, which is needed, as IMO the shorts have totally taken control of the market.

          I suppose you could call it a government bailout, I don’t think it was called that when it was practiced from the 1930’s-1960’s in TX (I may be off somewhat on dates?)

          I suppose the other result is a large wave of bankruptcies and the knock on affects of those. I note Marathon Oil has fallen below $10 per share, which is the first sign of potential failure. It looks like every MLP will fail. Whiting is below $7, QEP, a very well managed company, is about to breach $11. EnCana, a very large Canadian firm, is below $5.

          I suppose maybe its best to let them all go bankrupt, and banks and bondholders take big losses. Maybe that will create a dearth of new investment in US, which will ultimately lead to oil shortages for a period of time, until the shale is able to “ramp up again”. BTW, I agree with Jeffrey Brown, it will not ramp up as much as the hype masters say it will, especially if some of the above mentioned to go Ch. 7 or 11.

          • Watcher says:

            Any govt action is a bailout, because the employees processing the paperwork are taxpayer funded.

            If you HAVE to have it, and you do HAVE to have it, you will get it regardless of price, and national security would be a marvelous rationale.

    • Ves says:

      SS,

      Who is John Kilduff?

      I also believe it is very very serious situation for everyone. Financial breaking point is very close if there is no some kind of “peace” agreement between warring oil producers. The only misgiving on any possible success of agreement that I have is that it is still “cheaper” to have oil war than “hot” war between world major producers.

      • shallow sand says:

        Kilduff is an oil trader/CNBC talking head, who I assume has been shorting crude for some time, given he has been saying it would drop in the $40s, $30s, $20s and now $18 WTI since last year.

        He thinks we are in a 1990s scenario, and as we know, oil went from $10 WTI in 1998-99 to over $100, with the spike in 2008 contributing greatly to the worst financial crisis since The Great Depression. Also, he pointed out that it is a battle between NOC’s and private industry, and that between deeper pockets and lower development and LOE, the NOC’s will win.

        I guess proration (if that is even the proper term) is not a good idea. Probably should let whoever fails fail, and deal with any ramifications of that.

    • TechGuy says:

      “Easy to do. 10 day per month proration on all US Producers in February, March and April, combined with limit on imports of 7.5 million bopd for those three months.”

      Unless you need every damn penny to keep the bill collectors at bay. At this point it does matter virtually every shale driller is going bankrupt in a few months, and I don’t see the current adminstration bailing them out since it bailouts for drillers would fit into the green-power/CO2 cuts agenda. The only think that has a tiny chance to save them is a KSA-IRAN war that drives oil back up, beyond $100 bbl. That said it still might be too late since the global economy is free fall (less demand for energy) and it may not be possible to increase production & sales fast enough to avoid defaults.

      The biggest problem is going to be the need for more banker bailouts as a lot of banks bet large on energy. Citibank successfully snook in a measure to back its derivatives with depositor money (ie bank bailins), likely to back up its bad oil bets.

      http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/12/spending-bill-992-derivatives-citigroup-lobbyists

      http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/23/taxpayers-could-be-on-the-hook-for-trillions-in-oil-derivatives/

      I think we’ll face another round of bank failures later this year, as drillers start defaulting. I am not sure it will be as bad as the 2008-2009 crisis, because I think the Fed will likely jump to QE and other measures faster this time.

      • shallow sand says:

        My belief is that taking that amount of oil off the market would drive the oil price back to more than compensate for the 30 days being shut in. I would rather WTI average $60 and produce 335 days than have it average $30 and produce 365 days.

        I may be wrong.

        I wont find out, nothing will happen anyway.

        Hopefully massive failures in the industry are confined to the industry, and do not spill over to the whole economy. But if they do, that is just the way it goes, I suppose.

        I presume over 500K oil wells and a similar number of gas wells cannot generate a profit at current prices. Maybe they all need to be plugged?

        Buy shares in cement companies?

        • Doug Leighton says:

          “I would rather WTI average $60 and produce 335 days than have it average $30 and produce 365 days.”

          Totally agree. It seems like insanity to cream our very best reservoirs, deplete invaluable reserves, and, all-the-while, lose money or produce minimal profits.

        • Ves says:

          ” Hopefully massive failures in the industry are confined to the industry, and do not spill over to the whole economy.”

          Unfortunately it will. When the pole (oil price) bends all the way to one side, after release it will not come back to the center.

          • Watcher says:

            But there IS no bankruptcy for Rosneft or Statoil or Petrochina. They can’t fail. They have central banks.

            • Ves says:

              I don’t follow?

            • AlexS says:

              The fact is that Rosneft, Statoil and Petrochina are and have been profitable, generating free cash flow, and never faced bankruptcy. And this is the case of most other oil companies globally.
              Shale producers are a BIG exception.

        • TechGuy says:

          “My belief is that taking that amount of oil off the market would drive the oil price back to more than compensate for the 30 days being shut in. I would rather WTI average $60 and produce 335 days than have it average $30 and produce 365 days.”

          I doubt it would go back up to$ 60 even if 30 days of US production per year is shut in. It appears the global economy is close to free fall. Demand Destruction is trumping supply. Prices for everything is collapsing. Copper has crashed back to the 2008-2009 lows. the Baltic dry index is at probably it it all time low (least the lowest since 1980, the earlier data I found online).

          Realistically to avoid a global depression, its going to take all of the worlds central banks to start flooding the market with liquidity. That said I think they will do that in the next 30 to 40 days (perhaps sooner if the markets really take a tumble). A global depression would mean riots, politicians getting booted out of office (if not imprisoned in some nations), and even gov’t overthrows. Generally Politicians and Bureaucrats like to keep their cushy jobs, so I would bet on some monetary action soon. Expanding credit and liquidity would likely get oil prices moving up again.

          FWIW: Currently, I think the Fed will cut at their next meeting (Jan 27) and perhaps bring back QE. This will perhaps be the shortest tighting cycle in history!

  61. R Walter says:

    After Reagan was elected in 1980, then Libya was attacked not too long afterwards, that was the impetus for me to begin to prepare for doom. It was the renewal of the crusades, 980CE was the start, it has now been 1035 years of war. It will probably continue for another thousand years at this point of snafu and FUBAR.

    That’s my thousand year prediction.

  62. oldfarmermac says:

    The regulars in this forum can and will argue the reasons for the recent oil price collapse until we are all dead or senile, and FORGET about it, that is the nature of human’s when it comes to one of their favorite topics. The ultimate causes may be obscure, and have a lot or mostly to do with international politics and power struggles, but the proximate cause is dirt simple.

    A lot of oil is coming to market, and between the high volume delivered, and a somewhat anemic world economy, the price has crashed. The demand of oil is extremely is highly INELASTIC. Basically this means is that a consumer will pay a LOT for as much as he customarily uses, if necessary, but very little for MORE, because he has no use for more, especially in the short term. Think baby and the family car, and milk and gasoline. The baby gets the usual amount, up to the limits of the family purse, but MORE is useless to the baby, and of little value and possibly no value at all to adults. If dairy farmers overproduce, the price of milk collapses. It is as simple as that.

    It is EXTREMELY important to note that the ONLY people who suffer in the event of excess milk production are the dairy farmers themselves. The TRUCKERS still get paid the same to haul it, the folks who make the plastic jugs get the same price, the supermarket gets the usual markup, etc.

    Ditto with oil. Only the PRODUCERS suffer, if we define producers as including the folks who work directly for them, such as fracking sand suppliers.

    Now holding these perfectly obvious facts in mind, let us conduct a little thought experiment.

    Suppose we assume the retail price of gasoline will be five dollars per gallon over the twenty year life of a new automobile. A hell of a lot of cars will not make twenty years or 200k miles, but more will than will not, at least among the better quality makes and models. Thirty three mpg actual overall consumption is a reasonable estimate for all new cars and light trucks for the next decade going forward, so let us estimate gasoline for the life of the car will be at least one hundred fifty bucks per thousand miles, that is thirty thousand bucks, roughly, for the life of the vehicle.

    Let us estimate that the cost of electricity to charge an electric or plug in hybrid is twenty five percent of the cost of gasoline. A pure electric car or light truck will use none at all, and a plug in hybrid in typically probably seventy five percent LESS.

    So – an electric vehicle owner can expect to recoup the extra cost of his vehicle via savings in fuel alone, over lifetime of the vehicle. He will also save a substantial amount of money on repairs and routine maintenance, because electric motors are legendary for reliability and durability. There is ample reason to believe that the electric motor and drive train of a pure electric vehicle can be expected to run trouble free twenty years or three or four hundred thousand miles. Remember there is NO transmission. That big old battery IS a question mark of course, but it also seems reasonable to think that like engines and transmissions, they will on average make it to 200k with some repairs. ( Keep in mind that these batteries are modular in nature and the modules can be swapped out. )

    (At any rate, we can expect batteries to get cheaper for years to come, because the battery industry is still in short pants, whereas the IC engine industry is mature, and newer designs are almost for sure going to be more costly going forward. The turbos alone on a small dual turbo engine cost more than a brand new Chevy truck v8 long block “crate motor”. A ” long block” is a complete engine minus the many small external parts which are generally reusable .)

    So – Purely as a thought experiment, suppose we can get to the point that every fourth car and pickup truck is an electric or plug in hybrid. This would mean, everything else held equal, that we would be using roughly five percent less oil. The exact percentage does not matter.

    Using that much LESS oil would have an ENORMOUS impact on the price of it. A million or two million more barrels per day has been enough to drive the price of gasoline from near four bucks here in the Land o th’ Free to about two bucks.

    Bottom line:

    The widespread adoption of electrification of cars and personal trucks will result in folks who continue to drive conventional vehicles paying a LOT less for gasoline. Trucking companies and construction companies and airlines will pay a LOT less for fuel, thus keeping the cost of living down for EVERYBODY.

    Depending on the assumptions made, subsidizing the transition to electrified personal transportation might well be a world class dollars and cents bargain for society as a whole.

    Gasoline and diesel fuel will still go UP over time of course, but they will go up LESS as we switch to electric vehicles. Personally I think five bucks average, for the next couple of decades, is an extremely optimistic estimate FROM THE CONSUMERS POV.

    I hope somebody who likes to play with spreadsheets takes up this scenario and posts their results here in Ron’s blog.

    • Glenn Stehle says:

      oldfarmermac said:

      …assume the retail price of gasoline will be five dollars per gallon over the twenty year life of a new automobile….

      …so let us estimate gasoline for the life of the car will be…thirty thousand bucks, roughly, for the life of the vehicle….

      So – an electric vehicle owner can expect to recoup the extra cost of his vehicle via savings in fuel alone, over lifetime of the vehicle.

      $5 per gallon gasoline?

      That would equate to an oil price of about $190/bbl.

      What are the chances of sustaining an average oil price of $190 over the next 20 years?

      Your calculations are based on one hell of a lot of speculation.

    • Glenn Stehle says:

      oldfarmermac said:

      He will also save a substantial amount of money on repairs and routine maintenance, because electric motors are legendary for reliability and durability. There is ample reason to believe that the electric motor and drive train of a pure electric vehicle can be expected to run trouble free twenty years or three or four hundred thousand miles.

      “Run trouble free twenty years or three or four hundred thousand miles”?

      Phew! My sister bought one of the first Toyota Camry hybrids to hit the market.

      At about 100,000 miles the battery went out. As I remember, she said it cost about $4,000 to replace it at the dealership.

      So not only was she out an additional $4,000 or $5,000 when she bought the car, she was out another $4,000 at 100,000 miles.

      Needless to say, when she bought her new Toyota Camry in 2013, she went with the non-hybrid model.

      • oldfarmermac says:

        I have a friend within a couple of miles that owns a garage. He specializes in Toyotas, as he worked at the local Toyota dealership for twenty years or so.

        He has a five or six Toyota Camry’s sitting around, which he has bought up as they became available, due to premature failure of the V6 engines used in the older models. Some of them didn’t last even FIFTY thousand miles. He buys wrecks with good four cylinder engines,and swaps them out, when he wants to make a couple of thousand bucks quickly.

        But mostly he would rather work on his farm, since he is burnt out on working on cars.

        I once owned a Honda Civic that suffered a catastrophic engine failure at less than eighty thousand miles.

        There are probably two dozen late model Dodge diesel pickup trucks with very low miles sitting at garages within a hundred miles waiting on a transmission overhaul job, which will cost AT LEAST four thousand dollars.

        Cars break down. Even anvils are subject to occasional failure.

        The Toyota Prius has earned a rep as one of the most reliable cars on the road.

        • Glenn Stehle says:

          oldfarmermac said:

          Cars break down.

          Oh really?

          Well just a few hours ago, you asserted that:

          There is ample reason to believe that the electric motor and drive train of a pure electric vehicle can be expected to run trouble free twenty years or three or four hundred thousand miles.

          So which one is it?

    • Glenn Stehle says:

      oldfarmermac said:

      So – Purely as a thought experiment, suppose we can get to the point that every fourth car and pickup truck is an electric or plug in hybrid. This would mean, everything else held equal, that we would be using roughly five percent less oil….

      Using that much LESS oil would have an ENORMOUS impact on the price of it. A million or two million more barrels per day has been enough to drive the price of gasoline from near four bucks here in the Land o th’ Free to about two bucks.

      Bottom line:

      The widespread adoption of electrification of cars and personal trucks will result in folks who continue to drive conventional vehicles paying a LOT less for gasoline.

      Well again, this is all based on a bunch of wild-assed speculation.

      It’s without a doubt a very romantic and appealing narrative. Cheap gasoline and cars paid for by the government! What’s not to like about that?

      But it blurs the distinguishing line between thought and knowledge, and speculative thought does not possess the same kind of validity as the results of cognitive processes.

      And to top it all off, pity the poor folks you started out your screed with, who shelled out big bucks for EVs. They thought the future $5 price of gasoline would justify the high initial cost of the vehicle, only to later have the price of gasoline (according to your later prediction) crater.

  63. AlexS says:

    Much ado about nothing.
    Saudi Arabia will NOT sell upstream assets, will NOT privatize Saudi Aramco.

    From Reuters:

    Saudi Aramco would sell downstream ops, not upstream

    Jan 11, 2016
    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-aramco-ipo-idUSKCN0UP18D20160111

    Saudi Arabia is considering selling shares in refining ventures with foreign oil firms but would not offer a stake in the crude oil exploration and production operations of state oil giant Saudi Aramco, sources familiar with official thinking said.
    Some Aramco managers have been informed that the company is looking at listing shares in “joint downstream subsidiaries” at home and abroad, the sources said.
    One option is to create a holding company that would group together Aramco’s stakes in the downstream subsidiaries, one source said. Shares in the parent firm would not be offered, he added.

    Aramco has crude reserves estimated at about 265 billion barrels, over 15 percent of all global oil deposits, so it could become the first listed company valued at $1 trillion or more if it went public, analysts have estimated.
    But several sources close to Aramco said its massive size, and the confidentiality surrounding it as the main instrument of the kingdom’s oil policy, meant the sale of a stake in the parent firm was not being actively considered.
    “The government will never give up its crown jewel,” said a senior banker in Riyadh.
    Instead, authorities are looking at accelerating plans that have been in the works for many years to sell shares in part of Aramco’s vast refining and petrochemicals empire, which by itself is estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars.

  64. R Walter says:

    Baltic Dry Index hit an all time low last Friday, 486.

    Oasis is at a 52 week low today at 5.86 USD.

    STO, Statoil, is at 11.97 USD.

    A rout like no other, flushed down the drain.

    Where it ends is the 64 trillion dollar question.

  65. Longtimber says:

    Where it ends is the 64 trillion dollar question. Indeed.. Down several % so far Today. We find out if new WTI floor is 30… Last weeks old news:
    “Since the oil price plunge began in July 2014, every rally, every “opportunity of a lifetime” to buy oil “for cents on the dollar” has turned out to be a falling knife. This is what the three trading-day, 15% crash of WTI looks like: ( See graph in Link ) ”
    http://wolfstreet.com/2016/01/07/oil-plunges-to-32-handle-chinese-stocks-crash-and-are-halted-whiff-of-mayhem-breaks-out/

    Morgan Stanley joins $20 Oil club ?
    http://oilprice.com/Energy/Oil-Prices/Morgan-Stanley-Joins-The-20-Oil-Club.html

    • shallow sand says:

      What if Jeffrey is right, and the huge inventories are merely condensate. Wouldn’t that be a head fake?

      • John S says:

        Shallow,

        My opinion is that Jeffry is right. If so federal proration won’t do anything but keep the shadow bankers and the shale executive management in business.

        Kilduff is another trader and all the other Wall Street guys needs to take their lumps like the rest of us. Where will this intervention start or stop? Remember “To Big To Fail”? Producers? Drillers? Service Providers? Workers? Benefits will be doled out to those closest to influence.

        Painful as this for all of us. Intervention will prevent the financial cleansing that I think is necessary to clean this mess up. There will be all sorts of unintended consequences.

        Let the chips fall where they may. The recovery will come sooner and cleaner.

          • Watcher says:

            He makes money attracting money. A way to do that is to seek to be different. There will be a handful of money out there looking for someone different. This is pretty typical hedgie activity.

            There are also the newsletter writers. Classic story of a newletter shill who got a cold call mailing list from a brokerage. He divided it in half. Sent one half bullish text. The other bearish. Waited to see which was right. Divided that bunch in half and did the same.

            Then the 1/4 left who had rec’d 2 “accurate” calls were again divided and the same procedure used. That remaining 1/8th then got the sales pitch. Increased success odds of sale.

      • Watcher says:

        Forget inventory. Think of people.

        Who is placing orders for oil delivery he knows he has no customers for? That’s what “oversupply” would mean. It would mean that for 19 months people have been placing, say, monthly orders for oil to be delivered when he can’t sell it.

        Who would do that over and over? No one.

        And thus, maybe there is no oversupply.

  66. oldfarmermac says:

    The cost of renewables is falling not only because of economies of scale, but because many relevant patents are now expiring, or have expired already.

    More patents are expiring on a daily basis, and competition between various still patent protected variations in renewable energy is heating up.

    Renewables are indisputably getting cheaper, year after year.

    SOME people might think expecting fossil fuels to get to be more expensive as the years pass is wild assed speculation.

    I daresay those who understand the abc’s of depletion, and all that sort of boring technical stuff, think otherwise. LOL

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/01/11/3737538/intellectual-property-renewable-energy/

  67. Heinrich Leopold says:

    January EIA Drilling Report came out and confirms the steep decline of US shale production (see below chart). Eagle Ford crude oil production declines 30% year over year and will fall below 1 mill bbl/d by spring 2016 and by late summer 2016, production will be likely around 0.5 mill bbl/d. As legacy declines are still very steep in Eagle Ford and Bakken, shale oil production is on track to be around 2 mill bbl/d lower by fall 2016. This will finally pave the way for a price recovery during the end of 2016.

  68. Bob Nickson says:

    Great thread Ron. It really rallied the lurkers (not meant as a perjorative). It made for very interesting and thought provoking reading, but is anyone’s mind ever changed by these exchanges? I’ll believe it when Glen buys an electric car, or when Nick starts stockpiling ammo.

    Personally, no matter how hopeless the situation may be, I see no point in giving up. I think we benefit much more as a species by cooperating than by competing, and perhaps one day we will learn to think of ourselves as one tribe, and learn to cooperate with the rest of the biosphere, and not solely for our own material benefit.

    In order for us to achieve a better world, we must first conceive of one. We are a malleable species. We are programmable. We are capable of changing our own behavior when sufficiently motivated. Our highways are no longer clogged with trash as they were when I was a child. Our rivers are no longer catching fire. We are starting to pay attention to the plastic in our seas. We may start to do something about it.

    We are unique as a species in that we have decoupled reproduction from our coupling. More than six billion of we the living will be dead by the end of this century due to natural causes. 2.5 billion of us +/- are past reproductive age (>40), half a billion more are likely done reproducing (35-39), and 2 billion more have not yet begun (<14). If 2015 marked the peak of petroleum production, many of that last cohort may understand the resource predicament before they have children of their own, and that understanding may profoundly influence their reproductive decisions.

    I see no point in being a prepper (aside from having a bucket of wheat, a bucket of beans, and a couple of bottles of olive oil in the cupboard). No matter how hungry I get, I'll prefer to cooperate with my neighbors rather than eat them, regardless of how vested they are in the American Strategic Lipid Reserve. And although you can count me amongst the godless, I have to go with Jesus on this one: all are my neighbors.

    There are often heated differences of opinion on this board, but the high quality of the posts is impressive, especially for an unmoderated board; thought provoking even if not always thoughtful.

    In spite of how strongly I disagree with some of the opinions expressed here, I've high confidence that I'd thoroughly enjoy settling in for a beer and a conversation with anyone here. Or coffee if they happen to be Muslim, or if they're Mormon, well, whatever. A soda?

    But if I got to pick three people from this board to build a community from scratch with, it would be Dennis, and Nick, and Wimbi, because they are optimists; because they are hopeful; because they believe that we can be something better than we are and that it is worth working towards it regardless of how futile it may be. And in the broader world, I prefer to listen to the voices of those like Amory Lovins, William McDonough, Elon Musk, Mark Jacobson, Rachel Carson, Joel Salatin, and Bill Mollison. I'd rather follow the lead of those who are actively conceiving of a better world. I'd rather break sweat with those who are actively working to achieve a better world.

    And Donald Trump can go fuck himself, because I believe that sex is best with someone you love.

    • Nick G says:

      Good thoughts.

      is anyone’s mind ever changed by these exchanges?

      You’d be surprised how many times I’ve seen people do that during a discussion. Other people change their mind only later, perhaps because they hate to concede a point publicly, perhaps because it takes time to reflect on things.

      But the most important minds that are changed are probably the lurkers, who are the vast majority of the readers. They’re forming opinions that can be very important, for them and the world.

  69. Jim Galasyn says:

    You might be interested in my blog: Desdemona Despair: Blogging the End of the World™.

    Here’s a fun recent post: 50 doomiest graphs of 2015

    • The Wet One says:

      Hey cool!

      You’r the guy behind Desdemona Despair. Nice to meet you. That’s a great blog. I wonder sometimes if it misses the bigger picture by being a bit myopic (i.e. only looking at bad news) but I generally dismiss that thought.

      I do enjoy your almost daily dose of news about the state of the world.

      Still though. Things are hardly at their worst ever. I think that the world was in generally rougher shape about a week after the Chixulub asteroid strike wouldn’t you say? The whole planet had just burned, the North American continent had just been bombarded with ejecta from space (along with the South American continent) and a decade long or so winter had just begun. And about 75% of all species were about to go extinct immediately.

      Compared to that day, now, even with all its negative indicators is just about paradise. I’m not trying to be flip, just trying to take in the whole picture over the fullness of time and geological history. Still, it’s good to know how the world is falling apart, day after day. I’m amazed, truly and honestly amazed that 1/2 of all life has disappeared since I was born.

      • Jim Galasyn says:

        “I’m amazed, truly and honestly amazed that 1/2 of all life has disappeared since I was born.”

        Me too. Whenever techno-optimists post the amazing graphs showing the human condition improving year by year, it’s a struggle not to reply with the famous Living Planet Index graphs.

    • Bob Nickson says:

      You bet I’m interested Jim. I’ve been a long time and frequent reader. You provide a valuable service in my opinion.

  70. 70%H2O says:

    Every once in a while there is this quote referred to here. “The truth shall set you free”. But the quote is actually longer in the original.

    “You shall find the truth, and the truth shall set you free”. It is from John 8:32

    Truth does not come to you. You must pursue it. Most people however pursue thruthisms that confirm what they already believe. And with “most” I mean “all” of us. One must make a willfull effort, ignoring the pain that comes from having to abandon views once precious to you. Anyone can do it. It is not a matter of abilities, but of willingness.

    A way to test ones willingness to accept the truth is to see when one get an argument supporting ones position, but beeing wrong anyway. Do you see the error and discard the argument, even though it support your view? Or do you swallow it anyway?

    Reality is, it is EASY to pretend all is well. Few knows this.

  71. oldfarmermac says:

    A final response to GS,broken up, so it will not be sent to spam.

    What do you believe would be the political fallout for US lawmakers if,

    instead of electricty costs increasing by a mere 2%, they had increased

    on the order of 50% or 100%, similar to what they have increased in

    countries like Spain, Italy and Germany, which have been more

    aggressive in forcing the production of renewables?

    As Ulenspiegel notes

    Glenn,

    price per kWh is only half of the truth, you have to check the actual

    bill which is a product of ($/kWh) * consumption.Then you suddenly find

    that the monthly electricity bill of an US houshold is not lower than

    the monthly bill of a German household.

    The second aspect you conveniently ignore is, that electricity was

    always very expensive in Germany or Denmark, to assume that the

    observed differences are a result of REs is nonsense, REs only

    contributed ~30%.

    I will add that these countries are keeping a lot of jobs home,and

    saving a BUNDle on imported fossil fuels.

    The socalled free ride that you say German industry gets pays virtually

    the entire bill for German imports, and German workers are among the

    best paid and get among the best bennies of all countries. Sometimes

    you come out ahead by helping your economy along via cheap industrial

    electricity.

    Everybody can be VERY sure than German businessmen have very sharp

    pencils when it comes to not wasting ANYTHING, including electricity.

    AS a matter of fact, German industry manufactures appliances for German

    home keepers that are among the most durable and most energy efficient

    of any on the market. German families live about as well,in terms of

    money spent on electricity, as Yankees.

    Efficiency is a VERY powerful argument. Burning LESS imported fossil

    fuel is a big plus for German national security, and German economic

    security. I fully understand that this is part of Energiewende

    propaganda:

    “German power bills are low compared to US average”
    http://energytransition.de/2015/05/german-power-bills-low-

    compared-to-us/

    GS says

    “Nevertheless, try selling that to American households, and see how far

    you get.”

    The BEST single way to see how much it REALLY costs people in different

    countries to pay a bill is by using purchase power parity.

    Here is the most relevant single paragraph in the link:

    Because the exchange rate has fluctuated so greatly, we opted for a

    different conversion metric: purchasing power parity. The average

    German power bill squeaks in at the lowest level of any US census

    region. However, if the impact of air-conditioning is removed, German

    power bills would be among the highest. Furthermore, in a state-by-

    state comparison (here is a PDF listing average power bills by US

    state) Germany would come in with the 21st lowest monthly power bills,

    quite close to the middle.

    Everybody please notice that I DID NOT conveniently leave out the fact

    that Germans use very little energy for air conditioning, which keeps

    their bill down. They have a cool climate. I don’t DELIBERATELY

    overlook counterpoints to my arguments.

  72. oldfarmermac says:

    continued:

    From my link;

    Most of the “benefits” that this study puts a dollar value on are those

    which are derived from reductions of highly politicized external costs:

    “GHG Emissions and Climate Change Damage Reductions” and “Air Pollution

    Emissions and Human Health and Environmental Benefits.”

    What GS has to say about this,

    “The authors of the study of course have some very high falutin

    mathematical models which they use to justify their claims. But I have

    created the graph below, using EIA stats, to illustrate exactly what it

    is the authors are asking us to believe.

    Let us pause here for a minute and just call spadesgoddamned shovels,

    when that is what they are, and have been deliberately arranged so as

    to trip up the reader.

    GS is entirely Righteous and smug about HIS graphs and statistics, but

    EVERYBODY who makes any contrary argument is in his estimation

    ethically and technically challenged, although he chooses his words to

    IMPLY this rather than saying so outright.

    His Graph below is COULD and might just be deliberately be sized and

    scaled to make his case look better.

    BUT we have actual figures from my link, and the figures say we spent

    about a billion per year over the period of the study to support the

    Renewable Power policy.

    This is what one of the most respected labs in the world has to say

    about the BENEFITS, in environmental terms:

    Air Pollution Emissions and Human Health and Environmental Benefits:
    National emissions
    of
    sulfur dioxide (
    SO
    2
    )
    ,
    nitrogen oxides (
    NO
    x
    ),
    and
    particulate matter 2.5 (
    PM
    2.5
    )
    were reduced
    by 77,400, 43,900, and 4,800 metric tons in 2013, respectively.
    We estimate that these
    reductions

    using
    a range of approaches

    produced health and environmental benefits equal to
    $5.2 billion, on average. These be
    nefits are equivalent to 5
    .
    3¢/kWh of new
    RE
    used
    for
    2013 RPS
    compliance. Across the full range of
    approaches
    considered, health and environmental benefits
    span $2.6 billion to $9.9 billion (2.6 to 10.1¢/kWh

    BUT that is only the estimated environmental benefit.

    Here is the short summary of economic benefit:

    Gross Jobs and Economic
    Development:
    Renewable generation used to meet 2013 RPS
    c
    ompliance obligations, along
    with average annual
    RPS

    related
    capacity additions in 2013 and
    2014, supported nearly 200,000 U.S.

    based gross jobs in 2013 and
    drove
    over $20 billion in
    gross
    domestic product (GDP)
    ,
    primarily based on NREL’s Jobs and Economic
    Development Impacts
    (JEDI) suite of models
    . More than 30,000 of these gross
    domestic
    jobs are related to ongoing
    operations and maintenance (
    O&M
    )
    , while 170,000 gross jobs are related to construction activity.
    Solar photovoltaic (
    PV
    )
    installations account
    for the majority of construction jobs, while
    established wind plants account
    for the majority of
    O&M
    jobs.

    ACTUAL CONSUMER SAVINGS WERE ESTIMATED AT ZERO TO TO 1.2 CENTS PER KWH

    This is whate the study says about the effect on the price of natural

    gas:

    ut how the effects of renewable generation on wholesale spot market

    prices
    decline
    over time
    and the extent to which consumers are exposed to those prices.

    Natural Gas Price Reductions:
    Renewable generation used to meet 2013 RPS compliance
    obligations
    reduced natural gas demand by an estimated 0.42 quads (422 million

    MMBtu)
    .
    This
    reduction lowered average natural gas prices by
    an estimated

    to
    14¢
    /MMBtu in 2013, resulting
    in consumer sa
    vings ranging from $1.3
    billion
    to $3.7 billion. These consumer savings are
    equivalent to 1.3
    ¢
    to 3.7¢/kWh of new RE used to meet 2013 RPS compliance. T
    he range in
    estimates reflects bounding assumptions
    about when RPS

    induced reductions in natural gas demand begin to affect prices.
    reductions
    in
    natural gas

    He says:

    Most of the “benefits” that this study puts a dollar value on are those

    which are derived from reductions of highly politicized external costs:

    “GHG Emissions and Climate Change Damage Reductions” and “Air Pollution

    Emissions and Human Health and Environmental Benefits.”
    WHO we gonna trust, GS or NREL?

    So it is ok for him to just dismiss externalized environmental and

    public health costs as ” highly politicized” but he puts up endless

    long links to sites that often appear to be fossil fuel mouth pieces,

    without even specifying who they are, in a lot of cases.

    I invite anybody who doubts the effects of pollution on public health to ask his or her personal physician about this issue.

    • oldfarmermac says:

      continued, my link says this:

      is:

      The benefit you and islandboy singled out, however, is “natural gas

      price reduction impacts”. Quoting from the study:

      Based on the AVERT modeling presented earlier, compliance with RPS

      obligations in 2013 reduced demand for natural gas among gas-fired

      generators by an estimated 0.42 quads (422 million MMBtu), representing

      1.6% of total natural gas consumption in the contiguous United States

      (and 5% of natural gas consumption within the electricity sector). This

      reduction in gas demand is, in turn, estimated to have reduced natural

      gas prices by $0.05 to $0.14/MMBtu.

      GS, pure hearted and with a conscience white as the driven snow, says:

      The authors of the study of course have some very high falutin

      mathematical models which they use to justify their claims. ….
      and continues

      “Does it pass the common sense test to believe that such a tiny

      reduction in the use of natural gas for 2013 would cause a 5₡ to 14₡

      reduction in the price of natural gas? ”

      Well yes it does, actually one happens to have a basic understanding of

      how a commodity market works in the case of a commodity that is said to

      be HIGHLY inelastic.

      This simply means in everday language that something that people must

      have sells for a very high price, if it is in short supply, and a very

      low price if supplies are in excess of what the people want at any

      given time.

      Any slight excess in supply can result in a price crash, and any small

      shortage can result in a price spike. This is so old hat as to be first

      grade stuff in any study of economics, but while GS is good at finding

      fifty cent word quotes to impress the ignorant, he is either ignorant

      of any basic knowledge of supply and demand, and price and supply

      elasticity, or else he wishes to avoid the subject.

      Farmers such as yours truly have often seen prices for the stuff we

      produce go to just about ZERO due to over production. There have been

      years I let my crops rot in the field because I counld not even get the

      HARVEST cost at the going market price. There have been years when we

      made doctor and top lawyer money on a nickel and dime sized farm- when

      there was a really short crop nationally, and we had a good year.

      Then he goes off on a long diversionary ramble intended distract

      attention and make him look like the sophisticated guy, and folks such

      as Islandboy and myself look like naive little kids, pontificating on

      and on about such bullshit as digging holes and filling the up again,

      just to put people to work.

      Now it does so happen that economists talk about such things, within a

      theoritical context, in classrooms, but everybody with a working brain

      knows that when real world economists advocate make work jobs, these

      jobs are just about always intended to result in some benefit for

      society, in exchange for paying for them.

      Here is what GS quotes, selectively as usual.

      ” Kenneth Rofoff, economics professor, Harvard University:

      Infrastructure spending, if it were well-spent, that’s great. I’m all

      for that. I’d borrow for that, assuming we’re not paying Boston Big Dig

      kind of prices for the infrastructure.

      Fareed Zakaria, host: But even if you were, wouldn’t John Maynard

      Keynes say that if you could employ people to dig a ditch and then fill

      it up again, that’s fine, they’re being productively employed, they’d

      pay taxes, so maybe Boston’s Big Dig was just fine after all.

      This is one of the key roots of the problem with many mainstream

      economists. They believe the economy is about money. In reality, it’s

      about value produced.

      Anybody who doesn’t see the diversionary tactic, leaving the question

      unanswered by the economist, and then saying economists don’t believe

      in value produced, rather than money is TOO STUPID to think at all, but

      that is exactly how stupid GS takes us to be.

      The economist being interviewed SAID “IF IT WERE WELL SPENT,THAT’s

      GREAT.

      A paragraph later, GS in all his lordly stuffed shirt wisdom says

      categorically, “This is one of the key roots of the problem with many

      mainstream economists. They believe the economy is about money.”

      A few paragraphs down he quotes SOMEBODY, my guess would be a paid

      fossil fuel mouthpiece who says

      “Proponents of renewable energy often like pointing to the social costs

      of conventional energy, but they ignore the social costs of renewable

      energies, which take up lots of natural space, crowd out wildlife and

      litter the landscape.”

      This man shovels bullshit as fast and as well as ANYBODY who I have run

      across in recent times.

      I live within driving distance of strip mines, leveled mountains, and

      formerly pristine valleys filled with mine wastes, and have seen a city

      so grimy and nasty with coal dust it looked like something out of the

      third world, here in in the USA.

      You can safely bet your last dime he will NEVER mention what it costs

      to clean up behind his fossil fuel industry masters.

  73. Pingback: Week in review – science edition | Climate Etc.

  74. Pingback: Week in review – science edition |

  75. Steve Harris says:

    Here is a blatantly obvious thing that apparently you don’t see. Life is temporary. Every living thing dies (that we are aware of). Also, the natural order of life is to consume, or be consumed by, other life. There is sadness in this only in the human mind. No where else. Consider that at some point all life on earth will cease to exist. Whether by astroid collusion, the sun reaching the end of it’s life, or something else, it will end. When it does, what will it matter what species have lived and are no more? Who will it matter to? No one. If there is a creator somewhere, then he can create more. If there isn’t, and there is no one for it to matter to, then it doesn’t matter. Just as now it matters not whether or not some particular prehistoric organism lived, eventually the time will come where it will not matter whether humans had ever lived, or not. You see, what is blatantly obvious is that if you are saddened that life is temporary and that nature can be cruel and unfair, the problem is not with nature. It is with your thinking. Human life is short. It is up to you whether yours is spent in happiness or in sadness. Your great-great-great grandchildren will eventually die, if they are born at all. In the end it matters not whether they lived and died, or never did live. In the end it is the same either way. Life is much better spent not worrying about what happens in a future long after you and everyone you know are long gone.

    • Steve, what’s your point. You just rambled on, assuming thing about my mind state that I never expressed. You make no argument whatsoever. This kind of shit makes no sense whatsoever.

      You see, what is blatantly obvious is that if you are saddened that life is temporary and that nature can be cruel and unfair…

      Now just who the fuck told you that I was saddened that life is temporary and that nature can be cruel? I have known these things for well over half a century and they don’t make me sad anymore.

      I think your post was rather silly. You apparently wanted to say something really profound but failed miserably with your effort.

      • Steve Harris says:

        Hi Ron. Nah, I wasn’t trying to be profound. Just wanted to poke the treehugger to see it buzz. I’m just one of those pricks that detests the chronic worriers of the world. I’d prefer they just take a dirt nap. But I’m stuck with ’em. Sometimes I just can’t resist being an ass. My sincere apologies. Steve

        • I don’t know what a treehugger is. If that is someone who understands that our world is being destroyed by too many people then I may be one. But if a treehugger is someone who think the problem can be fixed at this late a date, then I am not a treehugger. And most environmentalist I know do think the problem can be fixed. They are, in my opinion anyway, delusional.

          What is a treehugger anyway?

          • Steve Harris says:

            A treehugger is someone who believes that burning fossil fuels is a bad thing. Or considers the molecule of life, CO2, to be pollution. Or calls anyone who points out the data that shows Anthropologic Global Warming will not be catastrophic, but rather a net benefit, as a “Science Denier”. Or believes it is okay to spend Billions of $ of public money annually on climate research. Or believes that “climate science” is really science. Or thinks Shukla should not be prosecuted for fraud and embezzlement. Or thinks that NOAA should be trusted. Or thinks that NOAA disobeying a congressional subpeona is not a crime. Or believes that Billions of public $ should be flushed down the toilet subsidizing PV solar and wind power. Or believes that I should be barred from riding my snowmobile on public wilderness areas. Or believes that displacing some dirt with an off road vehicle is “scarring” the earth. Or thinks that Earth currently has a fever. Or believes it is right to barr land development to protect a species from extinction. Or believes it is morally wrong to exterminate a species. Or believes that people have a “right” that the government pay for their medical care. Or believes that people have a “right” to government welfare. Or believes that gays should be allowed to marry. Or believes that it is morally wrong to ban muslims from entering the USA. Oh wait, those last few aren’t necessarily treehuggers. Ron, you probably aren’t a treehugger.

            • A treehugger is someone who believes that burning fossil fuels is a bad thing.

              Okay then, I am definitely not a treehugger. Burning fossil fuel is not a bad thing or a good thing, it is just what we do.

              Or considers the molecule of life, CO2, to be pollution.

              Naw, I don’t think you have a fucking clue as to what is going on here. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, not a pollutant. We need a lot of CO2 but too much CO2 is a very bad thing. Just like H2O. We need it for life but too much H2O and we will drown.

              Or calls anyone who points out the data that shows Anthropologic Global Warming will not be catastrophic, but rather a net benefit, as a “Science Denier”.

              I am rolling in the floor laughing my ass off. Actually I believe a lot of other environmental problems will cause havoc long before global warming causes problems, the idea that global warming will be a benefit is hilarious.

              Skipping the rest of your very absurd post:…

              Or believes that gays should be allowed to marry.

              What in the fuck has that to do with the anything we have been talking about? All that statement does is expose you as a fucking bigot. Gays are born that way. And anyone who would discriminate against someone because of an advent of birth is a bigot. A bigot pure and simple!

              End of story you fucking bigot.

              • Steve Harris says:

                Ron, I was wrong. You most definitely are a treehugger. Thanks for the entertainment. Consider this. I was born with innate desires to torment treehuggers and gays. And you are discriminating against me because of my advent of birth. Yes, a bigot pure and simple you are.

                • I think you are just stupid. You wouldn’t know a treehugger if one bit you in the ass.

                  I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it.

                  John Stuart Mill, In a Parliamentary debate with the Conservative MP, John Pakington (May 31, 1866). Hansard, vol 183, col 1592.

  76. Stephan Becker says:

    Hi Ron,
    did you already hear of the theory of Victor Gorshkov and Anastassia Makarieva?

    New meteorological theory argues that the world’s forests are rainmakers
    1st February 2012 / Jeremy Hance

    http://news.mongabay.com/2012/02/new-meteorological-theory-argues-that-the-worlds-forests-are-rainmakers/

    It’s more or less describing what you already wrote in your article: Cutting down forests leads to drying land. But the opposite is also right. Planting trees will bring rain back.

    A lecture about this theory by Douglas Sheil:

    Douglas Sheil – Do forests attract rain?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBkOos12Xzs

    A very cheap and simple method for reforesting deserts:

    The Development of Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration
    Posted September 24, 2008 by Tony Rinaudo

    http://permaculturenews.org/2008/09/24/the-development-of-farmer-managed-natural-regeneration/

    A lecture of Tony Rinaudo at the IPC 10 (International Permaculture Conference) in 2011 in Jordan:

    Tony Rinaudo: “Against the odds: Reversing desertification in arid and semi arid lands
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dm_qlyvdZ_A

    This is a permaculture project in Saudi-Arabia demonstrating how to bring life back in to a barren dry region with the help of stones and plants:

    http://www.albaydha.org

    See also the videos:

    https://www.youtube.com/user/albaydha

    How to create a creek in the desert:

    Gabions: Water Soaks in the Desert
    Posted November 25, 2010 by Geoff Lawton

    In the photos I have included in this post, there is a documentation of two gabions in a wadi in the Dead Sea valley that comes down to the Dead Sea itself. I witnessed these gabions built in 2002 and have visited this site many times since, often after winter rain, and have seen residual water flows extending through the silt fields and down the wadi for long periods of time — increasing each year. During a PDC in Jordan in Oct/Nov this year (2010), the students and I took a field trip to examine these two wadi gabions and much to our surprise at the end of an exceptionally hot summer with record temperatures the gabions were releasing large flows of clean water through the silt traps.
    http://permaculturenews.org/2010/11/25/gabions-water-soaks-in-the-desert/

    • Stephan Becker says:

      Hi Ron,
      “If I saw a way out, a way to save humanity from catastrophe, a way to stop the destruction of our environment, then I would do everything in my power to show it to the world. But it is already way, way too late.”

      you and all of your readers are not really interested in solutions to save the planet? Why is nobody reacting on my posts?
      Do you think the facts which i have presented are statements of some naive flower childs?
      I know a proverb which says “Who fights can lose but who doesn’t fight already has lost.”
      There are scientists who say that we don’t know really how many species on earth exist.

      Yes a lot of species will cease to exist if we cut down all the forests but i do think also that a lot of people will die as well if this happens.
      But there are existing still a lot of forests, the cleared areas can be reforested and we can green the deserts as i showed it with some examples. My guess is – i’m only a graduated engineer for aeronautics – that the Sahara can be greened within 40 or 50 years with an starting investment of perhaps 10 Billion Dollars (without disappearing in other pockets). The know how exists, the people (refugees), which want to have a better life and are willing to work for it, exists, and the investment will be paid back within perhaps 30 years (like a credit for a new house).
      I didn’t do the maths till now but i’m quite sure that the United States could be completely independent of fossile energy by using biomass (search for videos of Dr. Elaine Ingham).

      By the way hemp and flax are plants which also can be used to produce fibres for making clothes but they do need only very little water. So Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan could stay in the fibre producing business but at the same time can bring back the Aral Sea to life.
      Another helpful technology is agroforestry. It helps to reduce evaporation by spending shade and reducing wind speed.

      All the best

      Stephan Becker

    • Stephan Becker says:

      Perhaps the linked articles are not scientific (complex) enough. Here is the original study of Victor Gorshkov and Anastassia Makarieva, two physicists of St. Petersburg in Russia:

      Biotic pump of atmospheric moisture as driver of the hydrological cycle on land
      A. M. Makarieva and V. G. Gorshkov
      Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute, Gatchina, St. Petersburg, Russia
      Received: 31 March 2006 – Published in Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss.: 30 August 2006
      Revised: 15 March 2007 – Accepted: 15 March 2007 – Published: 27 March 2007
      Abstract.
      In this paper the basic geophysical and ecological principles are jointly analyzed that allow the landmasses of Earth to remain moistened sufficiently for terrestrial life to be possible. 1. Under gravity, land inevitably loses water to the ocean. To keep land moistened, the gravitational water runoff must be continuously compensated by the atmospheric ocean-to-land moisture transport. Using data for five terrestrial transects of the International Geosphere Biosphere Program we show that the mean distance to which air fluxes can transport moisture over non-forested areas, does not exceed several hundred kilometers; precipitation decreases exponentially with distance from the ocean. 2. In contrast, precipitation over extensive natural forests does not depend on the distance from the ocean along several thousand kilometers, as illustrated for the Amazon and Yenisey river basins and Equatorial Africa. This points to the existence of an active biotic pump transporting atmospheric moisture inland from the ocean.

      http://www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci.net/11/1013/2007/hess-11-1013-2007.pdf

  77. Pupsi says:

    How can I receive your posts to my e-mail?

    • You cannot receive my posts in your email. I send out an email notice whenever I publish a new post, along with a link to that post. If you would like to receive that notice just email me at DarwinianOne at gmail.com

  78. Gary says:

    I believe an epidemic, a few decades after peak energy output, will ultimately and drastically reduce human population. IMHO, the reason why it will be a few decades is that the modern, industrialized medical infrastructure will need to be eroded to pallative care like in nursing homes and urgent care clinics without the advance equipment like xray or CT/MRI scanners, supply shortage, and all saving pills. I understand that hand held CT scanners are developed but once the manufacturing goes kaput. How long will the complex equipment last without a spare part? I am looking at working on a paper about the levels of modern medicine, from complex to the simplified care.

    An example of high level care is a patient that is on dialysis that has to have dialysis three times per week. That patient will die if the dialysis clinic runs out of dialysilate, electricity, tubing for the dialysilate, spare part for the dialysis machine, medications, or even lab machines to monitor the patients lab values. If any one of the above is gone, the patient will die soon and agonizingly so without pain meds. The level below that would be a patient that has a pacemaker implanted. The pacemaker is working, but the battery may last up to 10 years depending on how dependent the patient is on the pacemaker. Some people will have pacemakers implanted and not be able to have them replaced due to lack of a replacement pacemaker, pacemaker leads that fit the patient if the lead is flopping inside the chamber of their heart, the electrophysiologist/cardiologist may have downgraded their specialty that the general population can afford (infection control or orthopedic), no electricity, fluoro machine that have no spare parts, the heart pack (medical supplies for the procedure), oxygen, monitoring equipment, or the pacemaker rep that sets the pacemaker to the specialists desired settings. All it takes is to miss one of the above and patient will die eventually, when the pacemaker dies, but will last longer than a dialysis patient as long as they can stay relatively healthy and have a supply of cardiac meds. This group could wean from cardiac meds for the most part if they get healthier with exercise and lose weight unless there are secondary diagnosis; diabetes, amputation that decreases their mobility, mental health issues that make managing complex health issues problematic.

    The simplest form of medical care is hospice where a patient is in pallative care until their death. The kind of medical care that I can visualize in the decline of industrialization is like Dr Quinn, medicine woman, but with nursing homes repurposed to hospitals.

  79. Brother Puma says:

    The solution to all this is ridiculously simple. A new religion will soon emerge that combines the concepts of Jihad and cannibalism. Problem solved — that is, until the sun dies.

  80. zero export says:

    You mean on Counterpoint? I said HDR was not commercialized and had not yet delivered an electron of electricity to any grid anywhere in the world, and therefore couldn’t be considered alongside Gen III nuclear. This was when I was discussing my co-authored Energy paper we said the same thing there, and the referees had no problem with this. This was in response to a question put to me on this point. What part of this statement is in error, or anti-geothermal’?

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