The Energy Transition

by Dennis Coyne

(note that an Open Thread has recently been published for Petroleum)

I expect World Fossil fuel output to peak in 2025. If the World economy continues to grow in the future, a gap between Energy produced from all sources (including non-fossil fuels) and the demand for Energy will grow over time. If the gap between energy demand and energy supply is not filled by growth in non-fossil fuel energy sources there must be lower demand for energy due to reduced economic growth rates.


Energy Demand

The analysis that follows attempts to determine demand for primary energy under the assumption that energy supply is plentiful so that supply is constrained by demand. The consumption of primary energy is related closely to Real GDP (constant US dollars at market exchange rates).


In 1988 Real GDP was about 35 trillion (T) 2010 US $ and in 2000 Real GDP was about 50 T 2010$. The energy intensity of Real GDP measured in exajoules (EJ) per T 2010 US$ of Real GDP has decreased over time as shown in the chart that follows.


To find the annual rate of decrease in the Energy intensity of real GDP from 1970 to 2015, I look at the slope of the natural log of energy intensity vs. year, the average annual rate of decrease was 0.93% per year from 1970 to 2015, chart below.


There was a period with a faster annual rate of decrease in energy intensity of 1.3% per year from 1987 to 2000 as shown in the chart below.


It is not likely that a 1.3% annual rate of decrease could be maintained for very long and might not be possible due to diminishing returns. Recently, energy intensity has decreased at an annual rate of 1% from 2010 to 2015, this rate might continue for some time as thermal losses from electric power generation are reduced as wind, solar, and hydro replace some power generation, as heat pumps replace furnaces and boilers, and as batteries replace some of the fuel used for transportation.


The projection of future energy intensity of real GDP assumes a 0.93% annual rate of decrease until 2050 and a 0.0% annual rate of decrease from 2051 to 2100. This is shown in the chart that follows.


The chart below shows the natural log of Energy Intensity of real GDP from 1970 to 2050, the slope of the curve is the average annual rate of decrease of energy intensity. The trend line is for the 1970 to 2015 data only.


World real GDP per capita has grown relatively steadily since 1971 at an annual rate of about 1.45% per year.  The slope of the trend line for the natural log of real GDP per capita is the average growth rate shown in the chart below for 1971 to 2015.


I assume this 1.45%/year average growth rate continues until 2020, falls to 1.4%/a from 2021 to 2025, to 1.35%/a from 2026-2030, and to 1.3% from 2031-2039. I assume real GDP per capita annual growth rates gradually increase as the economy adapts. Real GDP per capita grows at 1.35%/a from 2040-2045 and then remains at 1.4%/a from 2046 to 2100. Note that lower growth rates imply lower energy demand, if all else is held equal.

I use the UN medium fertility population scenarios to estimate future population growth, but my expectation is that population will grow more slowly than this projection.


By combining the population scenario above with the GDP per capita growth scenario from 2016 to 2100 we can project future GDP.


From 2010 to 2015 World Real GDP grew at an average rate of 2.5% per year, below I show the World Real GDP growth rate for the scenario above from 2017 to 2100.


From 1980 to 2015 the average annual real GDP growth rate was 2.9%/year. Slower population growth is the primary cause of the slowdown in real GDP growth in this model.

Primary Energy Demand is just the Energy intensity of Real GDP times the Real GDP, the projection is shown below. The sharp increase in projected demand after 2050 is due to the (unrealistic) assumption that energy intensity will stop decreasing in 2050. A more realistic scenario would have energy intensity continue to decrease from 2051 to 2100, but at a continually smaller rate of decrease. This “unrealistic” scenario was chosen in anticipation of objections that my projection might be too optimistic.


I have covered fossil fuel supply on many occasions and the scenario below is based on my medium oil, natural gas, and coal scenarios (these will be covered briefly at the end of the post.)



The difference between primary energy demand and fossil fuel supply (where we assume fossil fuel demand is equal to fossil fuel supply) is simply the non-fossil fuel demand.


In order to meet this demand, 2015 non-fossil fuel supply (77 EJ) would need to grow at the rates shown in the chart below. Note that the 2002-2015 average rate of non-fossil fuel growth was about 2.9% per year. Petroleum output grew by 6.5%/year on average from 1900-1972.



For comparison to past growth rates of energy output, the chart below compares oil and natural gas output (petroleum output) from 1921 to 1970 to the growth of non-fossil fuel energy in the scenario above from 2016 to 2065. The scenario is conservative relative to past history.


If the World wanted to reduce carbon emissions, a continued growth rate of non-fossil fuels from 2038 to 2063 of 5%/year could potentially reduce all fossil fuel use as an energy source to zero. In practice, fossil fuel use is unlikely to be reduced to zero until growth slows to a level where all steel can be produced from recycled materials, this is not likely before 2100. Lower population growth rates would reduce the need for economic growth and the need for steel output, in addition bio char is a possible substitute for coal in steel making which would require research and development.

A future transition to an economy using fewer fossil fuels will be necessary due to peak fossil fuels and such an energy transition may be possible, but is far from certain. High growth rates (5%/year or more) of non-fossil fuel energy after 2035 could reduce most oil and natural gas use by 2065, which would reduce carbon emissions to the atmosphere. A reduction of coal consumption might depend on increased steel recycling, lower economic growth rates, reduced use of steel in general, and the potential use of biochar as a substitute for coal where new steel is needed.

In a future post I will consider how variations on this basic transition scenario might influence future climate change by applying simple climate models such as CSALT and MAGICC.


An introduction to the oil shock model can be found here.

Medium oil scenario – URR=17,600 EJ through 2100


Carbon emissions are 330 Pg (or Gt) from 1870 to 2100. URR in barrels is 3100 Gb.

Medium Natural Gas scenario– URR =16,300 EJ through 2100

Carbon emissions 230 Pg from 1870-2100. URR is 15,200 TCF (trillion cubic feet) through 2100.


Medium Coal scenario– URR=16,400 EJ through 2100

Carbon emissions 410 Pg from 1770-2100, URR=390 Gtoe or 800 Gt from 1770-2100.

Other carbon emissions from land use change, natural gas flaring, and cement production from 1770 to 2100 estimated as 230 Pg C, with total carbon emissions of 1200 Pg from 1770 to 2100.


An estimate in 2009 by Allen et al suggests 1000 Pg of total carbon emissions has about a 50% chance of keeping warming below 2 C above preindustrial temperatures. If that estimate is accurate we would need to reduce fossil fuel emissions and cement emissions to zero by 2060 to have a 50% probability of remaining below 2C above pre-industrial temperatures for global surface temperatures, a difficult task at best.

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318 Responses to The Energy Transition

  1. GoneFishing says:

    Dennis, is the energy you report for fossil fuel use the total energy of the fuel, including efficiency losses?

    • GoneFishing says:

      Ok, I will assume that it is total fossil energy. With renewables such as hydro, PV and wind the efficiency at the user point is much higher, on the order of 4:1 better than fossil fuels. So as things are converted to use renewable electricity, they will only need 1/4 the energy of fossil fuels to do the same thing. Then, as buildings are converted to better use direct solar energy and to self-cool, the ratio gets even better.
      Right now in the US, 37% of the CO2 produced is from buildings. Transportation produces 33 percent. Buildings also now use 70 percent of the electricity. Producing and modifying buildings to use less energy or to actually produce energy will make the need for energy far less and CO2 will be far less.
      The use of solar, heat pumps, insulation and sealing make the need for fossil energy far lower, in some cases zero.
      So because fossil energy is mostly wasted heat, the transistion to renewables will use far less energy than fossil fuels. I suspect we will be using the same amount of energy in 2100 as we do now or less.
      This of course assumes an energy transistion, not a collapse.

      • Dennis Coyne says:

        Hi Gone fishing,

        I agree. Keep in mind that the primary energy is overstated by the BP data. So that hydro, wind, and solar energy is increased by 2.63 to make it comparable to fossil fuel energy. A very rough approximation is to take 38% of the primary energy number to get useful energy (eliminate most of the thermal losses), in some cases we need process heat for industry or heating for buildings so the losses are smaller in those cases, but the losses in transportation are higher, I couldn’t find good numbers for all this at the World level. Note that some of this is captured by the decreasing energy intensity in my analysis. For example in 2015 energy intensity was about 7.4 exajoules(EJ) per trillion 2010 US $ (T 2010$) of world GDP. Assume that in the future all energy is provided by non-fossil fuel, energy use is reduced by a factor of 2.63 and energy intensity falls to under 3 EJ/T2010$. The true calculation is more complicated.

        If we eliminate thermal losses in electricity production as reported by BP (where phantom thermal losses are added to all non-fossil energy) in the primary energy data in Mtoe, the primary energy falls to 409 EJ in 2015 and energy intensity is 5.48 EJ/T2010$ of GDP. About 322 EJ total is energy not used for electric power generation (59%) and all of this is fossil fuel energy, with about 180 EJ from petroleum liquids and 142 EJ from coal and natural gas (proportions unknown). If we assume the 322 EJ can be reduced to 20 EJ in the future, then 302 EJ might be reduced to 115 EJ in the future (302*.38=115). This would be total energy of 276 EJ with an energy intensity of 3.7 EJ/T2010$ and energy intensity falls by 48%. In my analysis energy intensity falls by 44%, in the same ball park.

        There can be some improvements in building energy use, but the big changes are on the heating side, most cooling cannot be improved much and there are limitations to how far insulation and sealing can go, these are subject to diminishing returns, basic thermodynamics, and indoor air quality issues.

        Improvements can be made, but they have limitations.

        • GoneFishing says:

          I certainly would not want to argue with an oil company number, they have way too much money and lawyers.:-)

          The nice thing about improvements with renewables is they are actually in a different realm, since the source feeding them is vastly larger than the current energy demand and is free. Not only can buildings be made that need no external energy, they can actually produce excess energy.
          The efficiency of an EV can get better than 0.2 kWh/mile, but it is not that important after that. If the EV is essentially running on it’s own solar footprint, the grid becomes fairly superfluous for small transport.
          Of course we probably won’t get rid of the grid, using it as a storage and energy transfer system would probably be it’s major purpose. We have already started on the ride toward energy transistion in the electric grid and at the building level.

          Power in Arizona.
          Now we all know that Arizona is not that friendly to solar PV but here is a look at some changes happening in that land of the sun.
          They are betting their future on natural gas and if the price goes up the customers pay the price.

          • Dennis Coyne says:

            Hi Gonefishing,

            I am not suggesting that BP’s method is best, just explaining where I got my data because I did not mention it in the post, a mistake on my part.

            I don’t know where to find “final energy” data, but as an approximation we could take all the primary energy data and multiply by 0.38 to get a very rough approximation of final energy data. For oil (mostly used for transportation) the number is likely to be lower maybe 30% of primary energy, for natural gas it might be higher as some heating applications have 95% efficiency and combined cycle power generation may be 50% or more but we don’t have any hard numbers. For coal most is probably power generation and 38% might be pretty close to the average, I have no clue on the average efficiency of industrial processes that use coal.

            Note that the non-fossil fuel estimate includes the phantom 62% losses in my analysis. All energy estimates could simply be reduced by multiplying by 0.38 to get the non-fossil fuel energy estimate (where it is assumed on average final energy is 38% of primary energy). The energy intensity numbers would also change if we ignored the thermal losses and calculated in terms of final energy. There would still be further losses in transmission and distribution of energy to the final consumer, but these are difficult to quantify at the World level.

            • GoneFishing says:

              Hall states that 40% of the energy of oil is used between the well and the customer. That will be energy from oil, natural gas and coal. After that the primary use of oil is transport, which comes in around 20% to the wheels for the ICE. That gives 12 percent useful energy for oil. Actually it’ less because not all of a barrel of oil is used for energy.

              • Dennis Coyne says:

                Hi Gone fishing,

                The EROEI analysis is very tricky, the boundries are not clear. I prefer to consider tank to crankshaft and that can be as high as 40%, there are huge EROEI issues for renewables as well and I will leave that can closed for now.
                Note that EVs have losses from plug to wheels also, the losses from the motor or engine to the wheels are probably similar, the EV is probably about twice as efficient as the most efficient ICE (comparing energy in to the car at tank or plug to energy out from the motor or engine.) That seems closer to apples to apples.

                • GoneFishing says:

                  Ok, you can ignore large energy losses before the vehicle. However, that makes the whole analysis worthless. I will go with Hall’s work, he and his team spent years going through the details.

                  With 70 percent of oil as fuel, 40% energy lost after the wellhead, 19 percent useful at the car; that comes to a whopping 8 percent of a barrel of oil actually reaching the wheels. The 19% figure is from the DOE and does not include air drag, rolling resistance or drive train friction.

                  An ICE was invented that did use the waste heat to drive the piston through an extra two cycles but the inventor/owner got ill and his company has not proceeded with the project as far as I know. Too bad, over 40 percent efficiency and a lighter engine with less parasitic losses.

                  The big game is hide energy losses by not counting other energy sources or just ignoring them. Oil takes natural gas and coal just to get to the pump. It also take oil to get to the pump. Not taking into account such large obvious losses is how the pundits come up with good numbers for oil. It is a very poor energy source. If we really work hard to improve efficiencies along the way we might get 12 percent of the energy of oil to the wheels. That is not even counting the drilling and production end (where typical EROEI calculation ends).
                  Compare that to the power coming from a PV system. One can get 70 to 80 percent of the energy to the wheels using an EV. That is 9 to 10 times better than oil energy. Even the worst EV with all the accessories running is 5 times better than an oil driven ICE.
                  Point is that the losses using the fossil fuel energy system are far too big to ignore when comparing to renewables.

                  • Dennis Coyne says:

                    Hi Gone Fishing,

                    I believe if you look at Hall’s comments on PV, he does not find the EROEI to be very good. Hall has written a lot of stuff, do you have a link to a specific paper that you think does a good job covering all the losses.

                    EROEI analysis is notoriously difficult to get agreement on where the analysis should stop, not straightforward in my view.

                    Do you have some apples to apples figures for PV for the life of the panel and all costs at the utility scale or residential scale?

                    Then we could compare to all costs for a barrel of oil including drilling, refining, and whatever else you want to include.

                    For the PV insolation use an average location in the US like St Louis, MO.

                  • GoneFishing says:

                    I will put the loss of energy for oil as it is brought from well to customer graphic at the bottom of the page, it is too wide to do here.
                    You can see the paper at

                    I have posted the numbers for PV previously. It does not change the losses for oil or other fossil fuels.
                    The last one I read by Hall concerning PV, he included cost of storage in his calculations, which brought the number down. Since we don’t have a good handle on storage I don’t see that calculation as very valid.

          • Fred Magyar says:

            They are betting their future on natural gas and if the price goes up the customers pay the price.

            That is highly irresponsible! See the video I posted in this comment.

            • GoneFishing says:

              I think the power companies are planning on shutting down coal. So adding a few natural gas power plants now is not a totally crazy idea. Ten years from now, they might not do it.

      • Dennis Coyne says:

        Hi Gone fishing

        I would put difference for all fossil fuels at 3.2 to 1 relative to wind solar and hydro.

        For liquid fuel it might be 4 to 1 but natural gas and coal would be better about 2.6 to 1.

        • GoneFishing says:

          That is a better number. I still think you are overestimating coal, since a lot of it’s use is thermal and currently only gets 30% efficiency in producing electricity. It also has continuous mining, transport and waste disposal energy needs. Probably 3.0 is a better number for now.

          The 2.6 number for natural gas might be alright, even with it’s continuous drilling, refining and transport needs. I will examine that one a little further.
          As soon as natural gas is used heavily for transport, the number will have to go up due to inherent inefficiencies in ICE’s. The hole in the donut is the large use of natural gas to produce oil and synthetic oil. But that is for another day.

          The fact is that after following back the energy inputs into oil, I realized that EV’s that get at least 0.3 kWh per mile are essentially a wash for society. Total energy will not rise due to their prescence. As they increase in efficiency, they will actually reduce total energy needed. If we convert them to PV energy, it will be a real plus for society as it will reduce a plethora of other energy sinks and use.
          An interesting outcome, thanks for putting up this topic and for all your other work here. I find it mentally stimulating and interesting. Definitely provokes thought, keep it coming. Your counterpoints to me help push me forward in my investigations. You are appreciated.
          BTW I think your models are getting better and you nicely define their parameters making it easy to see the logic behind them.

          • Dennis Coyne says:

            Thanks Gonefishing,

            You also do a good job making me think by challenging my assumptions,

            please continue to comment and challenge me, I appreciate it.

    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Hi Gone fishing,
      Yes there are 23.88 million tonnes of oil equivalent(Mtoe) per exajoule(EJ). The data for fossil fuels is from BP’s Statistical review of World Energy in Mtoe, just divide by 23.88 to convert to exajoules.

  2. Stu from New Jersey says:

    I’m sorry, but you really lose me when you base a model on “real” GDP. We all know that the legitimacy of this is dependent on the accuracy of the “inflation” statistics, and *those* are complete BS.

    The US govt insists that prices have increase only 35% since 2001, yet most of the purchases that make up my cost of living have increased at rates double or triple that. (Processed foods, tuition, medical care, rent, property taxes.) I see stats in an argument like “real GDP” and my eyes just glaze over. And the 22% weighting they give housing flies in the face of everyday experience of our urban renters.

    The incentive for the govt to fudge these is too obvious – Social Security and other expenditures that are indexed to COL have to be kept down. I fear that an accurate COL stat would show “real GDP” as being negative for the last couple of decades.

    (Not to mention the problem with GDP increase and decrease not correlating with increase or decrease in wealth, as in the examples of hurricane devastation causing a boost in GDP.)

    I agree with you that population projections are BS. Every year the segments of US population experiencing increases in death rates expand. Looks like we’re about to experience an inflection on that, too.

    • GoneFishing says:

      I will second those thoughts Stu. Advertisement and reality are often far apart.

    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Hi Stu,

      The Real GDP is from the World Bank, inflation is a fact, I can only use that data that exists.

      The inflation data is better than you think and the “shadowstats” stuff is not very good.

      Chart below gives “real” oil prices using the CPI vs shadow stats inflation data in 2012$.

      Does the real oil price look sensible when using the shadowstats price index rather than the CPI?

      Not to me.

      • Stu from New Jersey says:

        What do you mean, it’s “better than I think”?????

        Without evidence to back up that statement, it’s EXACTLY as good as I think.

        Is it my imagination that college tuition is 10x what it was 30 years ago? (The govt says that prices have not even tripled in that time?) Or that medical costs have soared? Rent? House prices?? Who cares if the price of blue jeans held steady? Or the computer that I might replace every 5 or 6 years?

        I’m simply suggesting that models not be based on “real GDP” because this is not measurable in a world in which consumer prices are not measured honestly.

        And the price of crude *can* fluctuate against the universe of prices. *That’s* one of the problems. If it’s price relative to other prices was constant, there would be nothing to worry about.

        P.S. The World Bank is just an extension of US foreign policy, as proven by its immediate obedience in the sanctions against Iran. It should be called the “World” (U.S.) Bank.

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Stu,

          You missed the point.

          Yes some prices change more than others due to changes in policies. Real GDP is not a perfect measure, but I will continue to use it as there is not a viable substitute. Would you prefer to use nominal GDP, or just ignore economic growth altogether, it is not really clear. The chart shows how “real” oil prices would look if we use the shadowstats price index. Did it seem to you that oil prices were 3.5 times higher in real terms in 1980-1981 compared to 2012?


          The CPI is really not that bad.

  3. Fred Magyar says:

    I often find myself deeply dissatisfied with certain details on which many future scenarios seem to be based.

    I think many of our basic assumptions will prove, in hindsight, to have been deeply flawed and I could choose any number of those assumptions to challenge and let serve as an example. I’ve chosen this particular one at random.

    In practice, fossil fuel use is unlikely to be reduced to zero until growth slows to a level where all steel can be produced from recycled materials, this is not likely before 2100.

    The problem I have with that, is that no option is taken into consideration for significantly reducing or even completely eliminating the need for steel, it is automatically assumed that steel will always be necessary. Why should we consider that to be a valid assumption?

    All aspects of manufacturing and construction which currently require the use of steel might at least in theory be significantly disrupted by advances in materials science, such as applications in nanotechnology and things like carbon fiber structures or the application of concepts from biomicry by producing fibers that mimic spider silk or biopolymers and building extremely strong ceramics by learning how to apply chemistries learned from how certain mollusks such as the abalone build their shells. I could go on and on.

    Here are a few concrete real world examples (pun intended) 🙂

    Could a bamboo fiber composite replace steel reinforcements in concrete?

    Cheaper Carbon Fiber Could Replace Steel in Manufacturing
    A consortium of about 40 companies is working with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop a cheap form of carbon fiber that can be used to replace steel in manufacturing.

    Biomimicry – technological innovation inspired by nature – is one of the hottest ideas in science but has yet to yield many practical advances. Time for a change. Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have mimicked the structure of mother of pearl to create what may well be the toughest ceramics ever produced.

    There are countless other assumptions that I find equally flawed and in need of being challenged. I can’t and will not attempt any prediction as to what a post peak oil future will be like but I highly doubt it will be anything at all like the past.

    • GoneFishing says:

      Metallurgical coal production is about 1/8 of global coal production.

      • Dennis Coyne says:

        Hi Gone fishing,

        Not all steel can be produced with electric arc furnaces (EAC), so there is still a need for process heat which may be hard to produce without fossil fuels. My point is that it will be difficult to get to zero use of fossil fuels. The economy will continue to grow and not all steel can be recycled, there are corrosion issues and contamination issues.

        • Ulenspiegel says:

          Not all steel can be produced with electric arc furnaces (EAC), so there is still a need for process heat which may be hard to produce without fossil fuels.

          Why not? Electric furnaces achieve higher temperatures IIRC. The carbon content of stell is low and does not really contribute to the coal demand.

        • GoneFishing says:

          Steel is not produced using coking coal, iron is. The carbon participates in a reduction reaction which removes the oxygen from the iron oxide ore and produces carbon monoxide and iron along with molten slag which is removed through density difference and dumped. The CO is usually burned to power the pumps for the blast furnace.
          Steel then is produced from iron with a small amount of added carbon.
          So yes, if steel was produced, the need for a carbon source would continue to produce the iron.

          • Nick G says:

            Dennis, do you read comments on old posts like this?

            In steel production, a primary contribution by coal is the reduction of iron oxide, as mentioned above. That can be accomplished with electrolytic hydrogen.

            Coal isn’t necessary to iron production.

    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Hi Fred,

      I agree the future is difficult to predict. So you would assume no steel will be used by 2100?

      Man has been using steel for a long time, I would consider that assumption far fetched, maybe more so than assumptions I have made. 🙂

      My point was that it will be difficult to reduce coal use to zero if steel continues to be used. If it isn’t, it would be less of a problem, possibly biochar could be used for steel production, recycling will help.

      • Fred Magyar says:

        My point was that it will be difficult to reduce coal use to zero if steel continues to be used. If it isn’t, it would be less of a problem, possibly biochar could be used for steel production, recycling will help.

        I basically agree with your point!

        And no, I do not assume the NO steel will be used by 2100 but I think there are many reasons why it is at least theoretically possible that much less steel than is currently being used, will be used.

        I also think there are possible ways to produce or recycle steel without any coal at all. I think large scale PV plants can certainly produce the energy needed to recycle steel.

        Heck here’s a company that does exactly that up in the frigid north in Saskatchewan, Canada of all places!

        PV Waste Solutions is a locally owned and operated disposal company that prides itself on providing personal service to our residential and commercial customers.

        I helped set up a metals recycling business a few years ago in Florida, I’m 100% convinced that lot’s of those businesses are going to be using PV in the near future. My point is, that I see unprecedented potential for disruption being ushered in, in lot’s of unexpected ways due to the maturation of technologies such as PV. I think that at the very least we all need to check our assumptions very carefully.

        • GoneFishing says:

          The advantage of iron was it’s strength. The advantage of steel was it’s strength and ductile nature. Now printed complex structures are showing much higher strength than steel at lower weight. They also can be made of materials that do not corrode. The future of steel may be highly reduced, but probably not the near future.

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Fred,

          Yes assumptions should be checked. My thought process was simply that I would like to see fossil fuel use approach zero, is that possible, I asked myself.

          Not all steel can be provided simply by recycling in a growing economy, many of the recycling statistics do not consider all produced steel in the denominator, some is excluded as “unrecoverable” and this inflates the statistics. About 35% of World steel production comes from “scrap”, but a smaller proportion is post consumer scrap and comes from within the metals industry. Some coal is used in steel production, possibly this could be replaced by biochar, but it might not be feasible in practice. My knowledge of metallurgy is very limited, my understanding is that electric arc furnaces work well for recycling steel into beams and other massive parts, but for rolled steel mostly the basic oxygen steelmaking process is used, the pig iron production from iron ore is usually integrated into the operation.

          I find it hard to imagine a World where all steel is produced from recycled steel, maybe in 2150, probably not in 2060.

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Fred,

          The assumptions were intended to be conservative, all fossil fuels could be replaced from an energy perspective by 2065 at least, after that energy supply might again be constrained by demand unless the economy or population grow faster than my scenario assumes.

          For the environment it would be best if population and economic growth are slower than I have assumed. A more “optimistic” scenario would have lower population (UN low fertility scenario) and slower economic growth (maybe 1%/year real GDP per capita for the World.

          I purposely chose a conservative scenario to show that an energy transition is relatively likely. I think it is possible, but less likely that the energy transition might happen more quickly, from an environmental perspective, I hope that is the case, but we should hope for the best and plan for the worst.

    • notanoilman says:

      Car companies are switching to aluminium instead of steel in cars.


      • Oldfarmermac says:

        Aluminum is the way to go, but it’s damned expensive compared to steel. I don’t see a more aluminum going into cars, percentage wise, until either the price of gasoline goes up, or fuel economy regulations are tightened up.

        People don’t buy cars very often because they don’t rust out these days. The manufacturers have gotten rust under control to the extent that new car buyers seldom give it a thought these days.

        But Ford just made a big bet on their best selling pickup , going to aluminum, because truck buyers expect their new truck to last a lot longer than a car, plus the fuel economy kicker of course.

        Generally speaking, well maintained trucks DO outlast cars by a substantial margin, because their resale value is high enough to justify more maintenance and more repairs as they get older, not to mention that they are mostly better made to begin with, in terms of being durable and easier to work on.

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Old Farmer Mac,

          As coal peaks and declines, the price will rise and this will cause steel prices to rise. Oil prices will also rise so that people may be willing to spend more for a more fuel efficient vehicle, EVs may also go for aluminum to increase driving range. There may be less car ownership as well as AVs become ubiquitous. Perhaps car bodies of the future will be made to last forever (aluminum and carbon fiber and no crashes) and will go back every 20 years for a refit (new suspension and electronics.)

          That would reduce steel use in auto manufacture, the same kind if recycling could be done with appliances if they were designed with a refit in mind, send it back every 15 years to be refit with new seals, motors, compressors, and/or electronics.

          There are many possibilities, nothing should be taken for granted, it can all change.

      • Dennis Coyne says:

        Good point. Aluminum uses a fair amount of energy, but mostly uses electricity. The process produces CO2 when produced from bauxite, but in the future much can be produced from recycling, in 2010 the level was about 30% of output was from recycled aluminum.

  4. David Archibald says:

    Great work and agreed with the 2025 coal production peak which will be largely China. Only the Chinese see this coming and are going flat out on the thorium molten salt reactor.

  5. hightrekker23 says:

    “are going flat out on the thorium molten salt reactor.”

    I’ve been waiting on that one for 20 years.
    And the Indians have really put resources and time into a solution.
    It hasn’t happened on a commercial scale.

  6. Paulo says:

    It wouldn’t be so much of a problem that future steel manufacturing requires FF if other uses switched to renewables. We will see electrical production switched out, for sure. That seems to be a pickable fruit. One problem I forsee is the quality of recycled steel. I remember my ’81 Honda Civic made from recycled steel. Great little car, extcept for the rotted away hatch-back. Very poor quality product.

    Also. I read with interest Gone Fishin comment on GDP numbers and forecasts. It made me chuckle as I have just finished reading ‘Empire of Illusion’ by Chris Hedges. Written in 2009, it was quite prophetic. I don’t think too much of what we project will be needed will actually be required if what is unfolding continues on pace. I highly recommend this book. Very sobering.

    This evening I caught a salmon off our dock and had it on the barbie within 20 minutes. Along with rice, and salad from the garden + home made wine after a pre-dinner Crown Royal, I just experienced our future. Localized and reduced lifestyles vrs poverty as far as I can surmise. There are a lot assumptions in my model, but fewer than what this Post contains. Yes, this is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I just have to wonder. Will there be enough credit and debt room for any of these projections to unfold?

    Regards and thank you Dennis for your fine work. I am now off to do some more fishing with my little Jack Russell cohort.

    • Doug Leighton says:

      “One problem I foresee is the quality of recycled steel.”

      Yes indeed, this is a huge and grossly underrated problem. I know engineers working on critical projects who will only accept steels from Japanese smelters owing to severe contamination from recycled sources common to other world suppliers. One example: if copper (i.e., from electric motors) is mixed in with iron scrap and melted together any resulting steel will be degraded. In fact, all elements with a lower oxygen affinity than iron such as Cu, Sn, Co and Ni, remain in the final alloy. Therefore, utilization of low quality scrap too often results in off-specification steel and there is no existing way of removing these elements from the melt. It’s a progressively worse problem which is sneaking into more and more places. Rebar coming from recycled sources in China is often unusable now (not to say it isn’t often used anyway).

      Sorry if this (rant) is off topic; its a pet peeve of mine. Delete if you please.

      • George Kaplan says:

        Great comment. I didn’t know any of that before. Please don’t delete.

        • Caelan MacIntyre says:


          From my perch, it seems like just another one of many butterfly-wing flaps toward a perfect storm over this current way-of-death.

        • Oldfarmermac says:

          It has been common knowledge among tradesmen and hands on mechanics such as myself for decades that steel is getting to be in local terms “sorrier and sorrier” to the point that it is hard to find a piece of GOOD steel any more at a metal supplier.

          Most people are forced by the cost of steel to make do with ordinary hot rolled flats, angles, beams, etc. The steel I commonly used thirty or forty years ago could be twisted into a pretzel after welding it up with a low hydrogen electrode. Anything I can buy now will fail catastrophically under half or less the torque.

          Fortunately I have a substantial personal supply of old salvaged steel I laid in back when the local scrap yard was paying five cents and selling for eight or ten cents. Old friends who show up with sipping whiskey can sweet talk me out of a piece of it. Everybody else is out of luck.

          Incidentally the local building inspector tells me there is a possibility the building code will have to be tightened up because the specified lumber sizes are no longer really adequate to the job. The wood passes inspection, according to the grading standards, but lumber being cut at this time from super fast growing plantation grown trees is not as strong as lumber cut from ordinary trees, or plantation grown trees a few years back.

      • Fred Magyar says:

        Not off topic at all. Highly pertinent to the overall big picture!

        Two Natural Rebar Alternatives for Concrete
        From basalt fiber aggregate to bamboo strips, researchers are seeking a way to green the common structural material.

        Though conventional steel rebar isn’t going anywhere yet, the long term is less certain. Steel’s intrinsic corrosive tendencies point to decades of costly maintenance, and its high embodied energy yields a poor environmental scorecard​. The significance of materials such as woven-strand bamboo and basalt microfiber, therefore, is not represented by their incremental successes but rather by their long-term potential to redefine the world’s most commonly used hybrid material. The result could be a brighter environmental and economic future for reinforced concrete.

        BTW bamboo is a very fast growing grass that is ubiquitous throughout the entire world and has the added advantage of being really good at sequestering carbon.

        Here’s my beach bike, it has a bamboo frame with aluminum connectors and has the ride characteristics similar to those of a $3,500 carbon fiber frame for less than $100 of materials and labor, the bamboo portion of the frame by itself at the source, might be worth about $10.00. It will never rust! 🙂

        • HuntingtonBeach says:

          The 5.2 Madone is a $3500 retail bike of which about $1000 of it’s cost is the carbon frame.

          Your comparing the ride of a Yugo to a XT5

          • Fred Magyar says:

            Your comparing the ride of a Yugo to a XT5

            You don’t know very much about the prices or the characteristics of bamboo bicycles do you? My bike cost me what it did because of how and where I acquired it. If I were to sell it in the US, it could easily be worth over $2,000.00 and it would still out perform many pure carbon fiber bikes costing much more. I’ve taken that bike on some pretty rough off road trails and tried real hard to break it! Bamboo has the tensile strength of steel and flexes beautifully.


            Prices for a complete bamboo bicycle start at $1800, rising up to and over $5000. See a collection of bicycle all the information has been taken directly from the respective websites.

            Check these out:


            BOO SL-G GRAVEL BIKE

            FRAME ONLY: $4495

            COMPLETE BUILDS: $7,000-10,000+

            Disclaimer: I am not in the business of selling bamboo bicycles and am not affiliated with any of these companies.

            • HuntingtonBeach says:

              “frame for less than $100 of materials and labor”

              “FRAME ONLY: $4495”

              “You don’t know very much about the prices or the characteristics of bamboo bicycles do you?”

              There heavy, expensive and nobody rides them. You really miss represented them in your first post.

              • Fred Magyar says:

                There heavy, expensive and nobody rides them.

                Really? My bamboo frame is still pretty light at about 2.5 kg, compared to a typical beach cruiser which is what I got it for.

                As for characteristics:

                • HuntingtonBeach says:

                  “The Madone was an easy bike to like. It does everything well: the stiff bottom bracket and chain stays offer efficient acceleration and respond perfectly to efforts out of the saddle. And yet the frame was comfortable on all road surfaces — the steering was stable and predictable, though the bike never hesitated when pushed aggressively through corners. Trek’s marketing emphasises the Madone’s racing pedigree and I agree — this bike offers plenty of race-oriented performance.”

                  “Total weight for size 56 Madone is 7.45kg”


                  Approximate frame weight, 56cm full frame size*
                  OCLV 150 1.134 kg 2.50 lb
                  OCLV 120 1.1067 kg 2.44 lb
                  OCLV 110 1.066 kg 2.35 lb
                  OCLV 55 0.907 kg 2.00 lb
                  Steel 1.587-1.014 kg 3.5-4 lb
                  Aluminum 1.360-1.587 kg 3-3.5 lb

                  The Madone 5.2 uses OCLV 120 on the frame and 110 on the forks.

                • Caelan MacIntyre says:

                  I suppose it also depends on relative lifespans.
                  While it is understood that bamboo, if done well (resin, joints/fittings, maintenance, cracks, expansions/contractions, etc.), can last, it is uncertain how long, compared with other materials. Bamboo seems to be quite biodegradable and may need more maintenance.
                  Nevertheless, like with many an industrial item, bikes rely on parts from supply chains. Take out a part that can’t be easily repaired, replaced or locally manufactured, and it might be game over for the bike, until which time.
                  I know, I lost the use of my rear hub on my last bike and lived at the time in a small town where there was no bike shop.

            • notanoilman says:

              I read that link as boob icicles. 🙁

              People should think before creating site names, or maybe they did.


            • HuntingtonBeach says:


              Notice on our bike the frame sections are all straight and make a triangle. This is a very stiff frame. Then notice on the Madone. The frame section from the seat to the handlebars and seat to rear axle are curved. This allows the entire frame to flex like a spring so that it rides like a Cadillac. In addition, the front forks are curved a couple of degrees forward. This allows the carbon fork to act like a spring also. Good thing that Boo has fat tires or that frame would beat you up.

              Trek gives a life time warranty on the frame. I got mine for $2300 on the model year end close out.

              Searched Craigslist in Orange County for boobicycles and not one hit out of 2500.

              • Fred Magyar says:

                I’m not too surprised that searching Craigslist for a $10,000 specialty custom hand made bicycle, wouldn’t get you a lot of hits…

                BTW I see my own bicycle as a work of art. It’s even signed by the designer.

                • HuntingtonBeach says:

                  Hanging it on the wall is a good place for it. As we know from the price of oil, it’s only worth what someone will pay for it. You got yours “for less than $100”.

                  • Fred Magyar says:

                    You got yours “for less than $100”.

                    No, my bamboo bike cost me about $1,200 after I purchased all the components and put it together myself.

                    What I said was, that the frame had about $100.00 worth of materials and labor in it. Bamboo is very cheap in Brazil and so is labor. The aluminum parts at wholesale prices and also manufactured in Brazil weren’t very expensive either.

                    I assume you understand the concept of cost of materials in a product not being the same as the retail price of a finished product made from those materials, right?.

                    I paid about $400.00 equivalent for the frame alone at retail. Which is still far below the price of the cheapest bamboo bike frame I could have purchased in the US. All the other components I purchased in the US, though I’m not 100% sure of the provenance of all the components they are pretty good quality name brand parts purchased through a reputable bike shop.

                    The bike is my daily rider, it gets a lot of hard use. I also have a nice racing bike which I hardly ever use anymore because the bamboo bike has a far superior ride.

                    Whether you believe me or not it is a very nice beach cruiser and I’m very happy with it!

                    BTW the designer of this bike is Brazilian and he custom builds bamboo bikes in Denmark, they start at about 3,000 Euros.

                  • HuntingtonBeach says:

                    Ok Fred, I’m going to stop giving you crap about you bike. What’s really important is that you enjoy it and get yourself a regular cardio workout. Even though I live near the beach. By now you must have figured out I’m a road bike kind of guy.

                    In general here your one of my favorite contributors that I agree with. I don’t want you to dislike me, but sometime it fun to have a little bantering.

                    Enjoy your bike, salute !

                  • Fred Magyar says:

                    HB, LOL! No worries! I look on the bright side, I live near one of the nicest beaches in the world and I can enjoy biking on the Broadwalk along it all year round!
                    Ride a Bike or Take a Hike… 🙂

  7. Ulenspiegel says:


    while I on one hand completely agree that a projection of energy and GDP is essential for useful discussions of the energy transition, my issue is that you argue with primaray energy, this leads to many complications which produce more fog than clearity:

    1) Primary energy is a book-keeping rule that is useless/highly problematic when you combine conventional and RE sources and leads to IMHO wrong conclusions like

    “The difference between primary energy demand and fossil fuel supply (where we assume fossil fuel demand is equal to fossil fuel supply) is simply the non-fossil fuel demand.”

    2) A discussion becomes much clearer if you start with final energy, that is the portion that reaches the consumer and actually has to be replaced. The losses do not have.

    3) Neither the definition of primary nor of final energy (usually) includes heat pumps.

    My starting point would be to give final energy demand and its projection for the fields:

    1) electricity (todays applications)

    2) heat

    3) transport

    Then you have to discuss:

    1) Which shares of heat are needed at which temperature because a large share of the low temperature demand can easily be provided with heat pumps.

    2) The “same” discussion for ICE/EVs. Actual used energy vs waste heat.

    With this approach the discussion becomes more relevant and interesting and it is much easier to to pin-point some feature of the energy transition that get lost with you current primary energy based approach.

    • GoneFishing says:
    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Hi Ulenspiegal,

      Do you have a data source for the World for all of those quantities. I could do the analysis if I had the data, but I don’t. The analysis could easily be done by dividing all energy quantities by 2.63, but the analysis would not change very much. Note that the BP data inflates non-fossil fuel energy by 2.63 to make it comparable to fossil fuel energy. Yes heat pumps can be used for heating buildings and water, but a lot of building energy use is for cooling rather than heating.

      I agree with your basic point, the analysis is far from perfect. The point was to show that an energy transition is possible, many of your points, heat pumps reducing energy needs for low temperature heat and transport becoming more efficient as batteries replace fossil fuels make this more possible, but a lot of this is wrapped into the lower energy intensity that is assumed.

      The lower energy intensity is a result of all of these energy efficiency improvements which eventually are limited by physical laws.

      • Ulenspiegel says:

        Hi Dennis,

        I do not have data for all countries, only for Germany:

        Final energy use:

        1) 600 TWh electricity (gross value), 530 TWh net.

        2) 600 TWh fuel for transport, this includes 75% losses, i.e. “only” 150 TWh electricity are need for substitution.

        3) 1500 TWh heat, of these are used

        a) around 900 TWh for space heating
        b) 100 TWh low temperature applications in industry
        c) 400 TWh above 200 °C

        Therefore, we are talking about 2700 TWh final energy (~4000 TWh primary energy).

        In a 90%-100% scenario one would replace most of the 600 TWh fuel with electricity (150 TWh).

        And we try to reduce the demand for low temperature heating, half by better thermal refit of the buildings, most by using heatpumps, i.e. 1000 TWh heat demand are reduced to 500 TWh and provided by heat pumps with 150 TWh electrcity.

        This gives a demand for electricity of around 800 TWh + 400 TWh (high temperatur process heat) = 1200 TWh as first estimate.

        I would add a few hundred TWh in case of a 100% RE scenario for power to fuel aplications. OTOH there are still huge efficiency gains possible in industry, therefore, the process heat is very likely 30% too high.

        With these numbers (83 million people) one could make an worst case estimate for the upper limit of global demand, i.e. China and India have in the long run German demand, USA decreases her per capita consumption.

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Ulenspiegel,

          So today the ratio of final energy to primary energy is 2700/4000 or about 67.5%.

          I am using BP data, there is no heat data for the World that I am aware of. So your analysis is nice for Germany, but it cannot be reproduced for the World.

          Rather than TWhr/year, I would use average power for the year in MW or GW, where 1 TWhr/year=114.155 MW = 0.114 GW.

          Also your fuel substitution is optimistic, I would make it 300 rather than 150.

          The reduction of thermal losses in buildings by a factor of 2 seems optimistic,
          I would use 2.5 TWhr of heat per TWhr of electricity.

          So your 1000 TWhr of heat reduced to 150 TWhr of electricity should be more like 1000 TWhr to 300 TWhr.

          So we could call it 1400 TWhr/year=160 GW per 83 million=1.92 GW/million people. Then assume the World eventually achieves current average German standard of living in 2100 with 10 billion people or 10,000 million would require 19,200 GW or 19.2 TW of average power output per year. For comparison primary energy consumption for the World in 2015 was 6.6 TW as reported by BP in Mtoe/year and converted to average power in TW for the year. For Germany final energy consumption was 67.5% of primary energy, so using this figure for the World, final energy would be 4.4 TW. So energy output would need to increase by a factor of 4.4 for 10 billion people to reach today’s German level of energy consumption with expected efficiency improvements.
          My scenario assumes the World average energy consumption reaches about 79.6% of the current German average level (with assumed efficiency improvements) by 2100 with final power consumption at 15.2 TW. Note that the energy growth rates in my scenario after 2065 are quite conservative at 3%/year or less. If we had assumed non-fossil fuel energy continued to grow at 3.25%/year from 2065 to 2100, the average World energy consumption would be similar to recent German average energy consumption.

          No doubt this may be too optimistic, it will depend on how well we adapt to lower fossil fuel output and whether the energy transition can be navigated successfully.

          • Ulenspiegel says:

            Hi Dennis,

            the demand for space heating I suggested for Germany is quite conservative, mandatory legal requirements of 2014 will lead to this level in 70 years, the next round of legislation will actually reduce it much more.

            A passive house in comparison to the average house of 2014 would reduce demand by 80%, if the heat was delivered by heat pumps it would mean that we need less than 10% of the current fossil (primary) energy as electrcity, this could be reality in 2100 when all buildings are replaced.

            Demand for transport is IMHO only 25% of the current fossil fuel, we will see a lower number of cars and driven kilometers, here I am more optimistic than you.

            The relative high reserve for P2G is a result of using a national model with relatively low exchange of electrcity with other countries, we could reduce this with more transmission lines in a European context.

            A medium scenario for Germany is around 900 TWh for 2050 or 100 GW (24/365) for 80 million people, therefore I would assume we need less than 10 TW (10 000 GW) electricity for around 10 billion people in 2010 as worst case scenario.

            If we assume that a world population of 10 billion will not see the same number of cars per capita than Germany in 2014, IMHO a save bet with most of the people living in huge cities, and a much lower demand for heating/AC in cities I am in the 6 TW range or roughly 1.5 – 2.0 times the current power as electrcity. This is still a huge task but doable IMHO.

            BTW the Swiss model of a 2 kw society would lead to your scenario.

            • Dennis Coyne says:

              Hi ulenspiegel

              I agree the world is unlikely to reach per capita energy use of Germany. Simply a thought experiment.

              Do German buildings get replaced every 85 years.

              The last time I visited there were some very old buildings.

              I imagine the regulations apply to new construction.

              An assumption that all buildings will meet passivehaus standards by 2100 seems optimistic. My base scenario may be too conservative, reality will be somewhere between your scenario and mine.

              Remember for the world the German standard will not be met.

              • GoneFishing says:

                Apparently in Great Britain one must have an energy assessment and the house or building is given an energy rating. Makes a difference in the value of the house.
                Maybe one of the GB natives could chime in on the details of that.

                • JN2 says:

                  GF, that’s true. But sadly not relevant. In my experience, the price of the house is agreed *before* the mandatory Energy Performance Certificate process takes place. This costs the seller about $150. Best case, it’s making people more aware of energy costs? IMHO, better to upgrade the UK building regs to Swedish standards.

              • Dennis Coyne says:

                Hi Ulenspiegel,

                Another point on the World vs Germany is that the building energy load in many places is very different than Germany with more cooling than heating. In most cases this is already accomplished with air-conditioning where much of the efficiency has been attained already. Would the savings of a Passivehaus be 80% in a warmer climate than Germany, say Spain or Morroco, or is most of this saving reduced heating costs?

                Germany is a small part of the planet and thinking the World will be where Germany is on energy efficiency by 2100 seems far fetched to me.

                Your estimates may be conservative for Germany, do you believe that to be the case at the World level?

    • Phil Harris says:

      There is a fair bit of work ongoing on ‘exergy’ – it does seem more useful conceptually, for example

  8. Javier says:

    The problem I have with your models, Dennis, is that I consider them to be completely unreliable and not much different from a wild guess. This is not because the way you make them, but because they are based on a technique notoriously bad for predicting the future of variables that can change hugely: extrapolation.

    While you can reliably extrapolate future world population for a few years, perhaps a decade or two, you cannot extrapolate reliably oil production, oil demand, and GDP growth, not even for one year.

    An example: we cannot even project reliably next year oil production.

    The figure below is IEA total non-OPEC supply from three consecutive years together with their projections for the following quarters. In July 2014 they completely missed the increase in North-American oil production, and in July 2015 they predicted a small decrease in production that should be over by now, with North American oil essentially flat.

    These are world-level experts, yet their projections are no better that anybody’s guess. They simply do not know what is going to happen.

    Why do you think your models offer any guidance for what is going to happen? And if they don’t offer any, why make them?

    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Hi Javier,

      The general trends of the past 60 years are pretty clear. I am not trying to predict year to year fluctuations, I am creating “what if” scenarios. If we make these assumptions about average growth rates, this is what the future would look like. Feel free to ignore.

      • Javier says:


        It is not a question of ignoring your work but of discussing its relevance to the present situation.

        The length of the trend is irrelevant once you reach an inflection point, and in general inflection points are non-predictable. Careful analysis of our society needs reveals that an inflection point in oil production is very likely to constitute an inflection point in our economic system, after which any prediction based on past trends becomes irrelevant.

        The GFC was a wake up call, as no previous trend could have predicted it. However it could have been predicted, and in fact was predicted, based on debt growth unsustainability. The lesson therefore is that if we want to have an idea about future problems we have to forget about trends and look for unsustainable growth choke points. Based on what you defend, you have not learned that lesson.

        The most obvious unsustainable growth is oil production per dollar invested, which directly relates to the concept of ERoEI. Oil depletion is reflected in the increasing cost of producing oil, as cheap to produce oil is already past its peak. This increasing cost of oil production has already produced a peak oil exports that announces the immediacy of Peak Oil production. The increase in oil efficiency has not quenched our thirst for oil but according to Jevons paradox increased it.

        The immediacy of Peak Oil and the inadequacy of energy transition measures reflected in an ever increasing oil consumption and the economic stagnation of economic areas that do not increase their oil consumption, are not adequately represented in your models.

        Ron, Art Berman, Euan Mearns, Petro, myself, and many others believe that Peak Oil has already taken place. If so we are at an inflection point (a tipping point if you wish) that renders your analysis invalid. You are not going to get out of this by arguing that my economic knowledge is inadequate (as you do in the post below). There is a distinct chance that we are correct as there is a lot of data that supports our view. This type of situation when you have very different possible outcomes usually calls for probabilistic analysis, not trend following.

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Javier,

          Jevon’s paradox assumes that better efficiency results in lower demand which then makes prices fall and then increases demand.

          If the depletion of a resource causes prices to either stay the same (if the rate of efficiency improvement happens to match the rate of output decrease) or increase, then the paradox does not occur. So based on your argument of rising costs to produce oil (which implies higher prices or the oil will not be produced), we would either expect a rise in the price of oil if demand is adequate, or if demand has fallen due to efficiency improvements we would expect the supply of oil to fall. As long as the demand matches the supply we are ok. Clearly you do not believe this will be the case and expect supply to fall at a faster rate than any efficiency improvements, if that is what you are trying to say, Jevon’s paradox does not apply because rather than a fall in the price of oil (which we would expect in the case of Jevon’s paradox) we would have a shortage of oil and then the oil price would rise. In fact, Petro has argued that oil prices will spike uncontrollably, I disagree about the uncontrollable price spikes, but I agree that oil prices will rise and will either reduce the rate of decline, cause a plateau in output, or possibly cause oil output to rise.

          I don’t know which of these will occur, the plateau scenario seems most likely from 2018 to 2025 to me.

          There have been occasions when oil consumption has decreased, in the chart below I use BP oil consumption data in millions of tonnes of oil equivalent and convert to exajoules (divide by 23.88) and then take the natural log of oil consumption. The average annual decline rate of oil consumption for this 5 year period is 3% per year (the slope of the trend line based on a least squares regression).

          • Dennis Coyne says:

            Hi Javier,

            So what was the response of World real GDP over this same 5 year period?

            Using World Bank data for World Real GDP in trillions of 2010$ (market weighted exchange rates) and taking the natural log to look at the average annual rate of change, we get the surprising result that output grew by 1.62% per year over this 5 year period.

            If we look at the 15 year period with 5 years before and after this period of oil consumption decline we find oil consumption increased slightly by an average annual rate of 0.13% per year for this 15 year period and that real GDP grew by 3.04%/year over the same 15 year period.

            So a 3% annual decline in oil output leads to about a 1.4% decrease in real GDP growth. Let’s take Euan Mearn’s estimate (which I believe is too high) of a 2.1% annual decline in oil consumption and assume it lasts for 5 years, past history suggests about a 1% decrease in real GDP growth, which for the past 5 years has been about 2.5% per year, which implies a 1.5% annual growth rate for real GDP if Euan is correct. Note that Euan Mearns did not suggest a 5 year decline, his forecast was through 2017 so only 2 years, in his post he says “two years or longer”, it is possible he meant 3 or even 4 years, 5 might be a stretch though.

            I am doubtful a 5 year decline at 2% per year will occur, unless there is a global economic crisis. I am unable to predict such crises in advance.

            I agree that inflection points can and do occur, whether we have reached such a point is far from clear today. Such crises are usually much clearer in hindsight.

  9. Ulenspiegel says:

    “you cannot extrapolate reliably oil production, oil demand,”

    That is a strawman: It is about energy, and you can with estimates of population and GDP growth of course make estimates for (final) energy demand.

    Oil as chemical feedstock is a minor theatre of war and only a distraction. The real thing is final energy and our ability/unability to provide it with REs or efficiency.

    • Javier says:

      It is not only about energy. Liquid fuels is a special category of energy that cannot be substituted without many decades and a huge investment that the world cannot afford. The percentage of non liquid fuel vehicles is minuscule and the number of liquid fuel vehicles continues growing strongly.

      And GDP growth and energy demand growth depend on economic growth, and estimates of economic growth are not reliable.

      • Dennis Coyne says:

        Hi Javier,

        GDP growth is economic growth, the amount of liquid fuels needed for growth has tended to fall over time, higher oil prices will speed up the transition as will the fall in the cost of batteries. One thing you often miss is that the production of the substitutes helps economic growth. As one industry slows down (the oil and gas industry), other industries such as PV manufacture and installation, nuclear production and installation, building of hydro dams, manufacture and installation of wind turbines, expansion of rail and light rail, and manufacture of EVs and plugin hybrids all will increase. This creates jobs and income and increased economic activity.

        Somehow it seems you may be missing some background in economics.

        As I have pointed out before the Bank for International Settlements data shows that World debt to GDP has been relatively stable since the GFC, so the expansion of debt at the World level mostly happened as governments tried to stabilize their economies by deficit spending in 2009, since then there has been relative stability in Debt to GDP.
        Chart data from link below

        • Lidia17 says:

          “Somehow it seems you may be missing some background in economics.”

          Dennis, it’s exactly a “background in economics” that confounds and cripples our ability to assess the natural world and our current dismal situation in it.

          You say, “GDP growth is economic growth”. Well, no. GDP is a measure of waste.. it’s a measure of energy degradation and of resource destruction, which can only marginally be associated with human well-being (more military spending, more ill-health spending, are not “better” despite their increased “contribution” to GDP). More people driving farther on more roads in more cars does not produce anything—it only wastes and consumes.

          That’s why Stu (to whom you were also rude) and Fred and likely other readers are owed a huge apology. Garbage in = garbage out. GDP is deceptive for any number of reasons, and saying.. well, that’s the data I have.. is utterly absurd.

          • Caelan MacIntyre says:

            That seems to make sense, Lidia17. Thanks for commenting.

          • Dennis Coyne says:

            Hi Lidia,

            I agree the measure is not perfect, just better than anything else I am aware of see


            There are other measures, but none are without controversy.

          • Dennis Coyne says:

            Hi Lidia,

            Yes, things are produced that are wasteful in my opinion, but I do not rule the World, when you are in charge you can decide what is good and should be produced. I will just stick with reporting what is produced.

            GDP does leave many activities uncounted and counts things as “good” that some people think are bad, many externalities are not counted, there are many problems.

            There are no perfect statistics.

            • Caelan MacIntyre says:

              Hi Dennis,

              How about, ‘the economy’ (of unsustainable growth and material accumulation, etc.) is a religion; the GDP a self-reinforcing, self-rationalizing facet of it?
              Does nature agree with ‘the economy’? Do you? Do you agree that it’s uneconomic? If so, then why are we calling it the economy?

              Is it because it’s a religion and therefore doesn’t have to make sense except to its congregation?

              There are no perfect statistics, but that’s not what we’re talking about.

              Can you imagine another way to live?

              • Dennis Coyne says:

                Hi Caelan,

                Someday maybe “all the people” will be “sharing all the World” and “the World can live as one.”

                A nice thing to strive for, but it will be “a long and winding road.”

                • Caelan MacIntyre says:

                  It’s a peak oil(/’collapse’) blog, Dennis. Why’s that?
                  Because everything’s hunky-dory in the Neofeudal Church?

                  We can begin change merely by prefixing ‘economy’ with ‘un’, or ‘pseudo’, for examples. It’s not hard to do.

                  By changing the discourse. Go ahead, try it.
                  Take a deep breath and play some relaxing music.

          • GoneFishing says:

            “it’s exactly a “background in economics” that confounds and cripples our ability to assess the natural world and our current dismal situation in it.”
            Too true Lydia17 , too true.

          • HuntingtonBeach says:

            “GDP is a measure of waste”

            Wrong, GDP is a measure of economic activity in a monetary value. In a free market, humans naturally try to maximize their monetary value choices. Clearly not all humans are relatives of Einstein. For example Fred’s choice of a bamboo bike or Caelan’s wood bike. Sure there is a lot of waste in GDP. Which leaves room for a better standard of living with a lower GDP.

            Your confusing quality of life with GDP. Lidia, maybe you missed that day in your class in macro econ 101 course. There is not a direct correlation, but a rising economic tide can raise ships.

            • Caelan MacIntyre: Frugal or Feudal? You Decide! says:

              Except that economic activity is not economic, is it? It’s more like ‘feudal activity’.

              ‘Economic’, from Lydia17’s implied definition is ‘frugal’, as opposed to ‘feudal’. ‘u’

              Therefore, their definition of GDP in the context of this feudal activity would indeed seem a measurement of waste. Colossal waste.

        • Lidia17 says:

          “Somehow it seems you may be missing some background in economics.”

          Dennis, it’s exactly a “background in economics” that confounds and cripples our ability to assess the natural world and our current dismal situation.

          You say, “GDP growth is economic growth”. Well, no. GDP is a measure of waste.. it’s a measure of energy throughput and of resource destruction, which can only marginally be associated with human well-being (more military spending, more ill-health spending, are not “better” despite their increased “contribution” to GDP). More people driving farther on more roads in more cars does not produce anything—it only wastes and consumes.

          That’s why Stu (to whom you were also rude) and Fred and likely other readers are owed a huge apology. Garbage in = garbage out. GDP is deceptive for any number of reasons, and saying.. well, that’s the data I have.. is utterly absurd.

        • Dennis,

          Economically speaking, it is a mistake to use non-financial debt (to GDP) when talking about world debt levels.

          Financial debt is a huge driver of the numerator portion of the GDP calculation. We can understand this more clearly by asking if, for example, JPM’s earnings are a component of GDP (answer: yes) and if financial debt ever enters capital markets as fuel for economic activity (answer: yes).

          Further, in your energy intensity chart you observe that it has been falling since the 1970’s. That is due to two factors. (1) Honest to god efficiency and productivity increases and (2) increasing financialization of the economy (where increased debt stimulates economic activity but its eventual payback is never subtracted in the present moment GDP calculations). Interest rates have falling since 1980 enabling the most rapid and extraordinary increase in aggregate debt levels in human history.

          The failure to subtract out debt growth from GDP calculations is one of the major failings of the statistic. It’s a huge oversight. Ginormous. And it can only be rationalized if, and only if, you assume debt never has to be paid back and can be rolled over to infinity.

          A quick thought experiment that I use in my book The Crash Course. Imagine two families living next to each other, each earning $50,000 per year. We take a snapshot and measure their GDP. It is $50,000 each.

          Next year both families still earn $50,000 but one of them also borrows an additional $50,000 and spends it on a boat. Family A is still measured as having a GDP of $50,0000. But family B is now measured as having a GDP of $100,000.

          Clearly a more honest calculation would subtract out the $50,000 of borrowing by family B because that will have to be paid back in the future.

          I hope that helps.

      • Ulenspiegel says:

        “It is not only about energy. Liquid fuels is a special category of energy that cannot be substituted without many decades and a huge investment that the world cannot afford.”

        That is debatable. The only field were oil really shines is as chemical feedstock, however, this only consumes less than 10% of the production.

        For space heating we have allready good alternatives, if half of the car and smll trucks are hybrids or EVs until 2030 we are on track. This could be done mostly by regular replacement of old vehicles.

        “The percentage of non liquid fuel vehicles is minuscule and the number of liquid fuel vehicles continues growing strongly.”

        The number of EVs and hybrids grows exponentially. Again, if 50% of all cars are hybrids in 2030 we win.

        • Javier says:

          Don’t make me laugh Ulenspiegel,

          Half of the cars on the roads in 14 years? The number of EVs and hybrids has been growing fast because it was coming from zero. It has gone from 0 to 1%.

          There are 1.2 billion vehicles in the world, and about 1.3 million are EVs. They are sold mainly in three countries, US, China, and Japan, the three main economies. The ROW except in Europe is just looking.

          The average age of cars in the US has been on the rise and it is now 11.5 years. Elsewhere is probably higher, as for example average age of cars in Turkey is 12.7 years.

          Now if you know a little bit about numbers you would realize how silly your proposition is, as you can calculate the ramp up in sales needed starting in 2017 so that by 2030 you can have half of the vehicles electrified. Basically in a few years you have to capture the entire global vehicles sales market, and for a start the capacity to make so many electrified vehicles neither exists nor can be built in such short time.

          A pleasure to discuss with you about Harry Potter Universe, where every dream becomes possible at the tip of a magic wand. If that is what it is required then we have already lost.

          • Bob Nickson says:

            It’s not clear whether Ulenspiegel meant half of the car fleet or half of new car production by 2030.

            Even the latter is highly improbable however, but not impossible.

            By then, electric cars will likely be capable of fast charging at 150kW or higher rates (some Tesla Superchargers are currently (har) at 145kW), ~200 mile ranges minimum, and purchase price parity with ICE’s.

            300kW charging rates are under development, in which case 60kWh could be pumped into a 100kW battery in ~15 minutes, and provide ~200 miles of range.

            By then, a large percentage of the population will recognize the attractive advantages of EV’s: high performance, low maintenance, convenience (no gas station stops ever), low operating cost, smooth quiet operation, low cost self production of ‘solar fuel’, and no smog.

            Once people have acclimated to EV’s, a ride in a combuster will be accompanied by comments like: Why is it shaking like that? Why is it so loud? What’s that smell? Is there something wrong with this thing?

            Don’t underestimate the sea change of opinion that can happen with generational supercession.

            The post-millennial generation that will be entering adulthood in 2030 will likely have a vastly different opinion of internal combustion cars than us shade tree muscle car aficionados from the 60’s, and even a vastly different opinion of cars period. It is already very difficult to ignore the significant downsides of sprawling, car centric built environments.

            Also don’t underestimate the power of government mandate. The U.S. is not the world, and by 2030, many countries may just flat out ban the sale of light-duty combustion engine vehicles (China, almost certainly).

            The sooner the above EV metrics are hit, the sooner those kind of mandates will start to happen.

            • Javier says:

              What matters for oil demand is vehicles on the road. It will probably take decades for the majority of the vehicles to be electric, unless oil production gets so low and oil prices so high that the economy collapses and fuel cars can’t move. Then most people will simply not own a vehicle like in the early 20th century.

              • Dennis Coyne says:

                Hi Javier,

                Perhaps fewer vehicles will be sold as more people use public transportation and uber-like services in the future.

                In 2015 about 75 million cars were sold worldwide and you are correct a very small number were hybrids, plugin hybrids, or EVs. EV and plugin hybrid sales have been growing at about 50% per year, but numbers are very small (300,000 sold in 2015). When hybrids are included the total rises to 1.5 million.

                As oil peaks oil prices will rise and more fuel efficient vehicles will be sold, also fewer miles will be driven.

                About 90 million vehicles are sold each year and there are about 1.2 billion on the road, so if sales remain 90 million the existing fleet might turn over in 13 to 20 years, with gradually increasing fuel economy.

                An assumption of 1.25% annual growth in new vehicle sales and a 27% annual growth in combined hybrid, plugin hybrid and EV new car sales from 2016 to 2030 results in 50% of new car sales being hybrid, plugin hybrid, or EV sales by 2030.

                I agree such an estimate seems optimistic. It is possible that new car sales may not grow very much, if the remained at 2015 levels, 25.5% growth would be needed, still not that realistic.

                Much will depend on the level of oil prices and the decrease in battery costs, these are difficult to predict.

          • Ulenspiegel says:

            I meant that 2030 half of the SOLD cars may be hybids or real EVs, here one indeed has only to check the numbers.

            I bet that the large producer will all switch to hybrids within the next ten years and most of them will have EVs too. When people have to buy hybrids in 2030 they will buy EVs in 2040.

          • ERRATA says:

            This is a good article.

            „It is often stated that electric cars are cheaper to fuel and emit fewer greenhouse gasses than regular cars, but this is not generally true.”

      • Ulenspiegel says:

        “And GDP growth and energy demand growth depend on economic growth”

        Sorry that is simplistic nonsense. I can generate GDP with thermal refitting my house, installing a PV and heat pump and this actaully leads to a decrease of (measured) fossil energy demand.

        GDP is only a metrics of economic activity, it does not say anything about changes in reality and the claim theat higher GDP requires more energy is (at least for mature economies with a lot of waste) nonsense.

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Ulenspiegel,

          There is a limit to how efficient any process can become based on physics.

          The notion that economic output can be as high as we want regardless of how much energy is consumed seems to be your implication.

          Let us assume that all the energy efficiency improvements that are possible are applied to a nation’s economic system and the resulting economic output is X, with final energy use of Y.

          Under those conditions, economic output of more than X, will require final energy consumption that is greater than Y.

          From 1960 to 2015 the general trend has been increasing energy use as real GDP has increased, it is doubtful that this will fail to be the case in the future.

          • Nick G says:

            There is a limit to how efficient any process can become based on physics.

            That’s true, but it’s not really important. A physicist (excluding silly physicists like Tom Murphy, who never saw a strawman he could resist knocking down) would call it a “trivial” result – not practically important. Efficiency can’t be made 100%, but it can continually improve and get closer and closer.

            Let us assume that all the energy efficiency improvements that are possible are applied to a nation’s economic system

            That’s not practical: the state of the art continually advances. For instance, LED’s have only recently dramatically improved lighting efficiency.

            Efficiency can be improved to the point that ambient energy can provide the energy needed. For instance, PassiveHaus can eliminate the need for central HVAC systems and ductwork, and operate on available sunlight. At that point, you’ve arrived at a practical endpoint, where further efficiency is far less important.

            From 1960 to 2015 the general trend has been increasing energy use as real GDP has increased, it is doubtful that this will fail to be the case in the future.

            That’s purely a political decision. We could push appliance standards, CAFE requirements, and zoning regulations far harder, and achieve efficiency gains for a long time.

            GDP and energy consumption have been correlated because energy has been dirt cheap. Pigovian taxes *could* change that. Eventually, of course, depletion will do the job.

            • GoneFishing says:

              How do you define efficiency for a house, building, car or process that went from inefficient to producing power beyond it’s own needs?

              • HuntingtonBeach says:

                What makes an Efficiency House Plus?

                “The Efficiency House Plus standard2 is deemed to have
                been achieved if a building has both a negative annual
                primary energy demand and a negative
                annual final energy demand.”


                “By comparison with traditional building practices, the
                Efficiency House Plus is based on three key principles:
                • increase the building’s energy efficiency as much as possible
                • lower the energy demand of the household processes as
                much as possible
                • use renewable energy to meet the remaining energy

              • Nick G says:

                Technically, efficiency is output divided by input. If you want to be technically correct, you would include solar inputs.

                But…don’t we mostly care about reducing fossil fuel inputs? Or, in the case of a PassivHaus, don’t we mostly care about reducing or eliminating utility inputs?

                In which case, efficiency becomes irrelevant…

                • GoneFishing says:

                  Ha, if we included solar inputs into fossil fuels, how much solar energy happened over several million years? That would bring the efficiency to about zero for fossil fuels. Mountains and continents had to be eroded away just to cover the stuff up! That is a lot of energy to do that.

                  • Nick G says:

                    Yes, the percentage of solar energy that was stored was roughly .000000000001%.

                    Heck, I forget the exact calculations (and don’t feel like recreating them right this second), but all stored fossil fuels are equal to maybe one month of solar insolation.

                    The idea that fossil fuels are a priceless and irreplaceable store of solar energy is highly unrealistic.

            • Dennis Coyne says:

              Hi Nick,

              Does the House cool itself? I am thinking that unless homes are built underground cooling will be needed in warm climates.

              There are these things called the laws of thermodynamics, perhaps you should be introduced.

              Maybe you think we will find we will find ways to overcome these silly laws, on Star Trek they have the Warp drive, we’ll just find something similar for energy problems. 🙂

              My point is simply that we want to be realistic with our assumptions, suggestions such as “when all buildings are replaced by 2100” don’t seem very realistic. In Germany, a 500 year old building is found in the “new” part of town.

              Also keep in mind the analysis that I attempted was for the World.

              Do you believe 100% of the buildings in the World will meet Passivehaus standards (as of 2016) by 2100?

              • Nick G says:

                There are these things called the laws of thermodynamics, perhaps you should be introduced….My point is simply that we want to be realistic with our assumptions

                Well, which are we arguing about here – theory or practical things??

                Which laws of thermodynamics might apply here?? 1st? 2nd? I don’t see any practical relevance. I think my old thermo professors would agree.

                The comment to which I responded was entirely theoretical. My point: the problems are practical. Not theoretical. We’re not primarily facing a shortage of technical solutions, we’re facing resistance to change from legacy industries.

                Do you believe 100% of the buildings in the World will meet Passivehaus standards (as of 2016) by 2100?

                That’s not necessary. A move to good standards for new construction and renovations, as well as a serious move to retrofit existing housing (envelope tightening, insulation, windows, FF systems to heat pumps, etc) would have an enormous impact.

              • Nick G says:

                Dennis, here’s a more specific reply on thermodynamics.

                Elsewhere, you commented that electric motors can’t improve efficiency much. The answer to that is that motors are a small part of an overall system. More significantly, the more important measure of efficiency is the power that a vehicle requires to move, before any consideration of the drive train: that comes from aerodynamics, drive train losses, suspension/tire losses, etc..

                On a theoretical level: cars have already been developed that are efficient enough to run solely on solar power.

                On a practical level, US cars only get about 23MPG overall. That can be improved to 46MPG without much practical difficulty, and again to 92MPG and then 186MPG, if you count only liquid fuel inputs for a plugin hybrid like the Chevy Volt.

  10. Adam Bender says:


    In your opening statement you say that if there is a gap… well, by definition you can’t have a gap between what is used and what is available. It’s like saying if there’s a gap between how many potatoes I want to eat and the number on the table… I can only eat as many as I have. I think this should be clarified a little.

    Second, how do you expect things to go on with a “business as usual” scenario such as you have presented when our financial system requires growth to be effective? In other words, the bamboo beach bike is a great idea, except that the aluminum parts are flown across the country unless you happen to have an aluminum mine and smelting plant in your back yard. It looks like all of the things we (humans) are looking to are very incremental and that the “transition” is simply a pipe dream. Very basic things like computer screens require HUGE infrastructures and quantities of raw materials – I don’t see any solar powered dump trucks on the horizon simply because the energy density of solar (even at 100% efficiency) isn’t capable of operating machines that large. This puts a huge damper on our expectations of “business as usual”.

    What are your thoughts?


    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Hi Adam,

      I say in the post the gap must be filled by non-fossil fuel energy, if it is not economic growth will be slower or improvements in energy efficiency will need to be greater (or some of both).

      Essentially there will be demand for energy, but if it is not available it cannot be consumed, just like we cannot eat potatoes we don’t have, we would just be hungry (assuming there is no other food available).

      I don’t think there really is a “business as usual”, only constant change. If the financial system requires growth as it currently exists, the system will have to change. As population peaks (around 2100 in this scenario) growth in real GDP will become slower. We can look to Japan to see how things will need to change in the future, they are an early laboratory for what the World will face as population begins to decline. The average real GDP growth rate for Japan from 1994 to 2015 has been 0.75% per year, so far no collapse.

      On solar power dump trucks, much of the mining equipment can be electrically powered. Goods can be moved by electric rail for long haul, a lot of personal transport can be electric on light rail, buses on overhead wires (in cities), rail, plugin hybrids and EVs. Short haul trucking can use batteries eventually, but there will be liquid fuel for quite some time that will be used more efficiently as the peak is reached and fossil fuel prices become relatively high compared to other sources of energy.
      The growth rates for non-fossil fuel energy I have assumed are conservative compared to past energy growth rates. I expect society will need to adapt during this transition.

      • Dennis Coyne says:

        For Japan’s real GDP per capita the growth rate was 7.3%/year from 1960 to 1973, 3.6%/year from 1974 to 1991, and 0.69%/year from 1992 to 2014. The World growth rate of real GDP per capita from 1992 to 2014 was 1.7%.

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          For the European Union (EU) real GDP per capita in 2005 US$ has grown at an annual rate of 0.65% from 2009 to 2014. From 1982 to 2008 the annual growth rate of real GDP per capita was 2.17%/year.

      • Politcal Economist says:

        Hi Dennis, perhaps what the financial system requires is that global economic growth not national economic growth.

        After all, financial capital can be invested globally. So for example, Japan’s national debt offers zero or negative interest rate but Japanese money can be invested in China and earn much higher rate of return

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Political economist,

          Perhaps that is the case, note that investments can be in other instruments besides bonds. The investments in China might be somewhat risky compared to the Japanese, US stock market, or European stock markets.

          If it becomes a problem as World population peaks and economic growth slows, a solution will need to be found.

    • Fred Magyar says:

      In other words, the bamboo beach bike is a great idea, except that the aluminum parts are flown across the country unless you happen to have an aluminum mine and smelting plant in your back yard. It looks like all of the things we (humans) are looking to are very incremental and that the “transition” is simply a pipe dream.

      I guess in that vein all of modern civilization is a pipe dream!

      Actually that particular bike frame was intended for a very specific niche market of underprivileged Brazilian school children and it was assembled by hand from hand picked bamboo parts and the aluminum parts are smelted and machined nearby with electricity produced by hydro power. Granted I brought it to the US in my luggage on an international flight, but that is another story.

      But whether or not transition as you say, is a pipe dream, I think a much greater pipe dream is the one dreamt by those who do not even for a moment question the continuation of a fossil fueled powered BAU where people using their Visa Cards buy products from China at their local Walmart and pick up their purchases by driving there in their ICE powered SUVs or pickup trucks.

      If we compare the embedded energy required fabricate a few aluminum connectors to say the manufacture of an SUV engine in multiple plants around the world, it obviously pales in comparison. My point being, is that there is quite a lot of energy and resources being wasted right now that could be eliminated. So suggesting that making and transporting aluminum connectors for a bamboo bicycle frame is this huge insurmountable problem, rings more than a little hollow…

      Heck, I guess I could find ways to make that bamboo bike even more problematic… I could add an electric hub motor and a lithium Ion battery to it and charge it with a solar panel, imagine how incredibly unsustainable that would make it.

      All I’m saying is that there are plenty of disruptive technologies and out of the box ideas that certainly have the potential to dramatically change the future global geopolitical and economic landscape. Energy conservation and reducing of resource consumption is already happening right now. It may not yet be of sufficient scale to save us from ourselves but I don’t think the fat lady lady has sung yet.


      • Dennis Coyne says:

        Hi Fred,

        I agree business as usual will not continue, society will change as it has constantly done for many millennia, high prices of fossil fuels will lead to changes in the energy sources that are used and disruptive technologies will change things in ways that are hard to predict. The fact that people can share ideas over the internet almost instantly is something I could not have imagined even as I started university. What the world will look like when my children are my age is difficult to imagine.

        One possibility for reducing steel use is to use less of it in buildings and more concrete and other materials, concrete of the future may be the type that absorbs and sequesters CO2 rather than releasing it so that if the process heat is provided by electricity sourced from non-fossil fuel the concrete would remove carbon from the atmosphere.
        Reduction in the use of new steel (produced from iron ore rather than scrap) will be needed to combat climate change, higher fossil fuel prices after the peak in 2025 may help spur such a reduction.

        Your bamboo bike is very cool. Though a bamboo car may not be likely. 🙂

        Maybe carbon fiber and/or aluminum in the future as fossil fuel prices rise will replace much of the steel use in automobiles.

        • Oldfarmermac says:

          Hi Dennis,

          I agree that we cannot predict the future very well, but obviously we can point out some of the factors that will affect future changes, and the rate at which such changes take place.

          I don’t know much about modeling, but I know about non linear change, and strongly suspect that virtually every future forecast produced by any staid, bureaucratic government agency, or large organization, totally fails to take lots of factors resulting in non linear change into account.

          People in such organizations know better than to send stuff upstairs that seriously contradicts what their bosses have said in recent times, lol. And the bosses themselves find it expedient to take the WISHES of their own bosses into account. Anybody who thinks the EIA can simply contradict the unstated wishes of the rest of the government has little to no knowledge of the workings of governments, lol.

          So for instance consider the proposition that electric cars will be entirely cost competitive in ten years, price wise when new.

          Thus a government agency might predict future gasoline consumption based on this proposition.

          But the government itself might for various reasons, such as energy security, national security, domestic employment, balance of trade issues, etc, decide to implement policies to speed up the transition to electric cars, thereby vastly accelerating the nation’s need for imported oil.

          My own personal opinion, based on reading omnivorously in politics, culture, general news, etc, is that birth rates world wide will continue to fall so that population will peak sooner and at a lower level than even the low scenario of the three produced by the UN, iirc.

          I also believe that there will eventually be a super boom in energy efficiency and renewable related industries brought about by energy shortages and rising energy prices, due to a combination of growth, depletion, and political problems such as embargoes, sanctions, power struggles, even hot war.

          Investors will jump onto this bandwagon expecting it to be the NEXT BIG THING, and the expectation alone will be enough to make it so, for a while at least, maybe as long as four or five years. That’s long enough to have a big permanent impact in terms of speeding up the transition to renewables and a more energy efficient economy.

      • notanoilman says:

        I wonder if a bamboo bike could be made without all those connectors. How well does bamboo steam bend?


        • I was trained in my young years as an industrial blacksmith. These connectors could be easily made by someone with a very primitive forge and tools as long as suitable scrap steel was available along with some localy dug coal or even charcoal. A person would not have to be highly skilled to make these. Rather labour intensive though when one considers the digging of coal or making of charcoal. Many things of this nature were made on the farm seventy five years ago or even up into the fifties.

          • Fred Magyar says:

            Steel would work and can be made as you describe but these are made of aluminum which is pretty easy to work with as well.

            • Hi Fred, to work aluminum requires far more knowledge than to work steel on a “backyard” basis. One can easily cast but such material is not very ductile and requires further proccesing to produce the fittings required for a bike such as this unless one is prepared to deal with occasional broken castings. I have true difficulty in believing that many of our modern materials will survive other than as perhaps recoverable scrap.

              • Fred Magyar says:

                I have true difficulty in believing that many of our modern materials will survive other than as perhaps recoverable scrap.

                We’ll you may be right. I guess it all depends on whether or not we experience a full collapse of our civilization and how successful we might be in transitioning to something very different yet still an industrial and technological civilization of some sort.

        • Fred Magyar says:

          How well does bamboo steam bend?

          It can be bent but even more interesting is that it can be grown in just about any shape.

          • Oldfarmermac says:

            I don’t have pictures, unfortunately, but I have had a lot of fun out of some friends who know little about the ways of nature with ” corkscrew hickory ” trees.

            Hickory trees in the understory grow tall and straight, trying for sunlight. If you drive a large piece of pipe into the ground next to the but of one, you can actually wrap it around the pipe, slowly, over a period of days, a half turn at a time, without breaking the bark.

            Then you cut back the shade, and let her be for four or five years, and then extract the pipe.

            You have yourself a corkscrew hickory. You can convince a city girl you are a mad scientist showing her such stuff, lol.

            • Hickory says:

              I never heard about corkscrew hickory.
              Heard lots about screwball hickory, though.

  11. Hickory says:

    Its an admirable theoretical exercise Dennis. It takes some tough skin to choose which assumptions to go with, and publish.
    I find these projections to be good food for thought, and I presume that is your main goal.

    Thinking about the overall theme of transition, I was thinking about Hawaii as an example of how GDP might go. In Hawaii basic items like groceries are more expensive since they need to be shipped in (w liquid fuel). Here some examples using 2016 data [Honolulu vs St.Louis]- 2.2 lb potato 3.71 vs 1.41, 1 qt milk 1.71 vs 0.98, 1 liter gas 0.74 vs 0.56
    If tourism to Hawaii suffers because air travel becomes too expensive for many people as prices of fuel rise (or economies depress), then the GDP of Hawaii will decline in kind. This could become severe.

    Hawaii is kind of a canary in the coal mine for this energy scarcity scenario when it comes to the effect on GDP. But the same sort of thinking applies to most places to some degree. How much of a territories GDP depends on inexpensive liquid fuel, how far away are the dairies from which you get your milk, or the grain fields/pastures that feed the meat that you find in your stores. How far away are the customers for the products that your states GDP is derived from?

    I see Hawaii as a canary for the scenario of high liquid fuel costs (or economic collapse of its customers) biting into GDP. I see Japan, as Dennis pointed out, as a canary for the effect of an aging population on both GDP and energy consumption (although this case is special since they have amassed huge savings over the decades which is blunting their problems), and I also see Germany as canary for economic decline.
    Why Germany? Well they are on a economic high currently. But they are highly dependent on both imported energy, and a huge proportion of their GDP comes from exports. Those exports can dry up if their customers go broke, or just get poorer. Germany may look rosy today, but could look very ugly in 5-10 years ( and no one with a sense of history should look forward to a downsloping Germany). It could look like a massive rust belt.
    Enough for now, thanks for the food for thought Dennis.

    • GoneFishing says:

      Hawaii has a full year growing season, plenty of water, lots of wind and sun. Fishing is generally just a walk away. The many mountains make Hawaii a prime candidate for pumped hydro storage. There is also no real need for home heating energy. It’s distance also puts it in a safer place far away from potential migrations due to food and water shortages as well as sea level rise. Population appears low compared to much of the developed world. I give Hawaii an eight or nine for potential survivability in the future even if things go belly up.
      When I was there I ate the local food, much cheaper and fresher.

      • Hickory says:

        Sure Hawaii has some decent prospects for growing some food. The Hawaiians had some pretty densely populated zones, but far far less than is now living there.
        I brought it up in the context of the article here. Mainly that we should expect its GDP to decline early in a liquid energy shortage. Sort of a warning case to watch.
        btw- I have close relatives living there, and have scrounged around for food myself there. Not as bountiful as one might expect, though.

        • Duncan Idaho says:

          I liven in Maui 10 years.
          While somethings are easy, growing food can be challenging.
          Avocados, bananas, onions, mango’s are easy.
          Stone fruit- impossible.
          Huge nematode problem for most vegetables.

          But doable—

  12. scrub puller says:

    Yair . . .
    Slightly O/T folks but I have just come in from my garden and another world wide problem has shown up in what to all intents and purposes is a fairly pristine part of Australia . . . we have been here for thirty two years and this year for the first time there are no wild bees.

    Not one little guy has shown up in the six weeks our button squash and zucchini have been flowering and the only fruit we get are the ones we pollinate ourselves.

    Honey bees are not native to Australia but wild populations established all over and in my experience pollination on a garden and even small farm scale has never been an issue. A few years back to squat down in our one acre patch of zucchini just after daylight was to realise from the humming that it was a very busy place.

    This year nothing, not even our little stingless native bees, no pollinators at all except for the occasional ant.


    • Fred Magyar says:

      This year nothing, not even our little stingless native bees, no pollinators at all except for the occasional ant.

      Damn! that really sucks!

      Australia Leads in Efforts to Solve Bee Mystery
      Bees are disappearing, and the CSIRO is taking the lead in trying to find out why

      In Australia wild bees still pollinate most crops and a large die off (Australia does not suffer from CCD) would mean that managed hives would need to be used, significantly driving up the cost of certain foods now considered basics.

      This is the kind of news that is the flip side of the potential benefits of technological disruption that might save our civilization. If our ecosystems become unviable before we transition to more ecologically benign ways of living it will definitely be game over! The idea that we can ‘MANAGE’ ecosystems which are highly complex and nolinear systems to the exclusive benefit of humans is precisely why E.O. Wilson argues so strongly in his book, ‘The Half Earth’ that we need to preserve complexity and all the biodiversity and not make the mistake of holding a strictly anthropocentric world view.

      • GoneFishing says:

        Fred, what do you think are the odds that we will initiate Half-Earth or something like it in the next 50 years?

        • Fred Magyar says:

          Hey GF, I’m not very optimistic. I don’t think most people really understand at a deep enough level why it is so important. I requires a sea change in thinking on so many different levels. Having said that, 50 years is a long time and while I won’t be here to see what happens, I sure hope something like it does, for the sake of my descendants and the world they will have to live in.

          • GoneFishing says:

            Well Fred, at least we got to see a lot of neat stuff and live during a time when the changes are so obvious they can no longer be ignored. We are also blessed with seeing the time when the big-brained apes are scurrying around trying to hold everything together while at the same time trying to change everything.
            I was just reading about a “leaf” that is 10 times more efficient at absorbing CO2 than a natural leaf. Then I looked outside at the millions of leaves I could see and thought, it sure is a lot easier and cheaper to just let things grow than to build artificial trees. The darn things just grow and propagate on their own, no mining or manufacturing site needed. No extra energy needed either to make them. No money involved either.
            Sometimes people are just silly.
            I do like the olivine solution to CO2, at least for now.

    • Caelan MacIntyre: Technological Fool's Errands says:

      “Social species of Australian native bees do produce honey, but not much, as they are relatively primitive bee species. In cool-climate areas of Australia, all the honey the bees produce is needed by the swarm to live through winter.

      Collecting honey from Australian native bee nests can cause many of the bees to drown in spilt honey. The honey is tangy in comparison with commercial honey taken from the European Honey bee. The bees store their honey in ‘small resinous pots which look like bunches of grapes’. ” ~ Wikipedia

      There have been problems with honey bees the world over apparently, or at least in North America, not just in Australia.

      Many talk about ‘mechanical’, ‘electric’ and ‘disruptive’ technologies and so forth, but rarely ever, social and ‘nature-integrative’ ‘technologies’ and true social progress (equality, ethics, democracy, etc.) and these may truly be what’s needed for our and the bees’ and other species’ survival, including the keystones. Keystone is a good word, because in an architectural context, when you remove the keystones, the structures can collapse.

      Clichéd technological ‘progress’, even if it’s somehow seen to be cutting-edge or along the lines of the current ‘disruptive corporate narrative’, say, like creepy (‘CRISPR’) genetic engineering, Solar Impulse or self-crashing cars, seem really just superficial, feel-good and/or ‘fool’s errand’ treatments of the symptoms of our cancerous predicaments.

      Image of all-wood bike made by 16 year old:

      • GoneFishing says:

        Cover that seat. Ouch, splinters!

        • Caelan MacIntyre says:

          It’s a prototype and like a wooden toilet seat. ‘u^

          • GoneFishing says:

            Ha, I never pedaled a wooden toilet seat or even did the shuffle on it. Hmmm, maybe something to do in the future. 🙂

            • Fred Magyar says:

              LOL! Hey GF, you could try riding it on a trail in woods, not sure how far you’d get or how you’d stop if you went down a rocky hill since it doesn’t seem to have brakes. Plus it would be cruel to the bears, if they saw you, they would all die laughing!

              On the other hand credit where credit is due! Kudos to the kid, he did an awesome job and obviously learned how to work really well with electric power tools, plywood, metal fasteners and adhesives, since he sure as heck didn’t carve that bike from a single tree trunk by hand with a flint blade!

              • GoneFishing says:

                Next, a wooden motorcycle, followed by the AllWood electric car.

                Until then we will just have to make copies of the Splinter.

                • Fred Magyar says:

                  You mean like this?

                  • GoneFishing says:

                    One step up from the Red Green special.

                  • Aws. says:


                    That’s a particularly Canadian reference that may be lost on the international audience here at POB.

                    … At least they’ll find you handy. 🙂

                  • Caelan MacIntyre says:

                    Inside joke, then, which I got up here in prison Canada. Never watched a show, though, but was vaguely familiar with it.

                  • GoneFishing says:

                    Aws, they can look it up, everybody here has internet.
                    RG used to get broadcast down here in the US, then the city people got rid of it and I no longer could watch it. Couldn’t get it over the internet directly due to laws, but then it hit YouTube.
                    One of the best skits was when he made a pacemaker. K car wonders. Lots of good cornball stuff, great entertainment. Didn’t hurt duct tape sales either.
                    We’re all in this together. Keep your stick on the ice.

              • Caelan MacIntyre says:

                Hi Fred, how was the Malbec?
                Don’t forget the nice lawn behind the young man too, etc..

                But let’s keep going…

                Consider adding that, the way BAUtech– electric power tools, industrial plywood and all that– is currently configured, running along a crony-capitalist plutarchy model, or, more simply perhaps, a neofeudal one, it may very well create, or more accurately, exacerbate, the conditions, the longer it persists, whereby it eventually offers humanity not much more than, as you write, tree trunks and flint blades.

                It is suspected that Louis Arnoux, incidentally, author of the article over at cassandralegacy, would agree, despite his almost comically-pitiful (ostensible desire for a) ‘happy’ ending at the end of Part 3.

                Hey, Louis, if you’re around, what the hell was that? ;D

  13. R Walter says:

    As for energy intensity, for electricity, it is 24 hours each day, it is needed all of the time.

    When it is fuel for transport and miscellaneous it is in the range of four to six hours each week.

    Demand for electricity is anywhere from four to six times greater than for fuels such as diesel or gasoline.

    In other words, demand for electricity is far greater than the demand for fossil fuels.

    There will always be more demand for electricity than for fossil fuels.

    Why have a coal-fired steam engine when a twenty horsepower electric motor will do the job?

    Demand for electricity will increase, demand for fossil fuels should decrease.

    Right now, the demand for fossil fuels can’t remain constant, 220,000 more new humans arrived today.

    Increases for electricity demand will curtail fossil fuel usage.

    Pokemon go doesn’t require much gas to make it go.

    • Petro says:

      “When it is fuel for transport and miscellaneous it is in the range of four to six hours each week.”

      I wonder what your local Whole Foods management team thinks about that…… or your local gas station… or UPS, or FedEx….. or police station…. or trash collection service,………. or…. or…

      …and, where do you think that pokemon electricity comes from, my friend…. mirrors, or wind mills….?

      Be well,


      • R Walter says:

        Petro, it is necessary to have all of civilization to survive. You do need electricity, to have it delivered to your house, there are power plants, employees, fleets of vehicles, huge machines to mine coal, all the way to the wire to make it happen.

        All manufacturing, agriculture, an energy industry, service industries, everything, gotta have it in place and working.

        Without it, I am milking my own cow and growing everything to survive.

        All the systems must function, too much disruption, turmoil, you will red line the misery index. If the beer trucks aren’t rolling, the misery is just beginning.

        I was referring only to the present time consumption habits of my own. I can decrease the use of gasoline, don’t need as much, but electricity must be ready to use 24/7, whereas my vehicles and machines with engines can sit idle and the impact is minimal until they are to be used. No electricity and all hell breaks loose!

        If and when there is no fuel for use to keep on truckin’, the fur will begin to fly.

        I am betting the business as usual will transition with less disruption, the energy available will be there for the long haul.

        I do think that once electric vehicles are built in mass quantities, it will be what to drive. If it is all Uber and Lyft, nobody owns a car to drive to the convenience store, just rent the self-driving vehicle to drive to the store for the prepaid order, then delivered to your slot in the city, more power to it all. All done via wireless communication, you know, hey.

        There are interesting statistics at

        13,639 days left to the end of oil.

        • GoneFishing says:

          Yes RW, it will take quite a while to raise enough horses to take over the load so we might as well keep on trucking.

          Thanks for the link.

        • scrub puller says:

          Yair . . .

          R Walter.

          There was life before electricity . . . I was fifteen before I flicked a switch.(grins)


          • Petro says:

            “There was life before electricity . . . I was fifteen before I flicked a switch”

            When T.Newcomen burnt that first lump of coal to make steam, we were less than 1 billion…… we are almost 8 now.
            Our dear Earth was a beautiful virgin back then….. today we are gang raping her again and again and over…..
            The only ones who traveled back then were the likes of Magellan and his majesty’s commodores….. today every Dick can go everywhere in the world within 24 hours……
            We had PLENTY of every resource imaginable back then….. today, not so much….
            And most importantly, when his Majesty made war back then, it took him 6 months to gather the army and go to punish the Colonies…..
            ….today, an idiot with funny hair and/or a criminal in a pantsuit can turn us ALL into cosmic dust with a push of a button …. within an hour… (but of course, to protect us and freedom from that crazy Putin…. ha, ha)

            So you see dear Scrub, the world has changed quite a bit since you were 15….. try to keep up, will you?

            Nowadays, If the switch you flicked does not make light appear…. after 48-72 hours (unless you are an indigenous people of Papua New Guinea) we will be shooting at eachother on the streets…….. and the ones killed first will be the “lucky” ones.

            So no, dear Scrub!
            As it exists today, there was no “life” before electricity… and there will be none after…..
            I know, this one might be a bit of a difficult “yair…” to grasp, but it is what it is.

            Be well,


            • scrub puller says:

              Yair . . . .
              Gotcha Petro But . . . .and its a big but.

              There will always be electricity but folks on here don’t understand that it does not have to be available 24/7 and, more importantly it needs to be locally produced and used with discretion.

              I do keep up and I’m aware of the looming problems far more than many of the dreamers who post here on this blog.


              • Petro says:

                We need dreamers, Scrub.

                Without them, we would not have 11 billion people driving Teslas by the end of this century……

                Be well,


                P.S.: While scientifically incorrect as to how complex civilizations work, the manner in which things work today and when you write:
                “….more importantly it needs to be locally produced and used with discretion…..”, I wish we had more think-alike people akin to you in the world!

                • Caelan MacIntyre says:

                  Fuck electricity. It’s overrated.

                  The more we cling onto it, along with BAU, the more precarious our predicament would appear.

                  Here’s some homework:
                  Pretend collapse is sufficiently in progress. What would you do? What would you need to do? What would you learn? Stuff like our ancestors used to? What else?
                  Then do it and report back. That way, you might be more prepared for the real thing and less clueless.

                  Make POB more grounded in reality and less dreamy/clueless.

                  Just one example of a site/article found by a search in Google, with keyphrase, ‘electricity is overrated’:

                  Humans don’t need electricity

                  Actually, a person doesn’t need electricity. It is almost in our DNA that we cannot live without it. But the truth is quite opposite. Electricity is needed only for stuff that people spend money on.

                  • Petro says:

                    I was being sarcastic with the “11 billion Teslas…”, Cae.

                    Perhaps you should go easy on that
                    “permea” kool-aid, brother….
                    ……that stuff is rough!

                    Be well,


                  • Caelan MacIntyre says:

                    I was talking about electricity, my Pet, not Teslas. In a sense, Teslas don’t run on electricity but on what powers the electricity-generating plants.

                    But they do help embellish my point about the idiocy that surrounds us.

                    Not everyone is going to want to abandon the BAU kool aid until it claims them. Permaea gets that, and so does Mother Nature, which Permaea, among others, is trying to understand.

                    Mother Nature is the ‘clue’ we need to ‘have’.


                    ~ Cae

                    “Electricity cannot be mined from the ground like coal. So it is called a secondary source of energy, meaning that it is derived from primary sources, including coal, natural gas, nuclear fission reactions, sunlight, wind, and hydropower.” ~ The National Academics of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine

                  • Caelan MacIntyre says:

                    Incidentally, Petro, in my ‘fuck electricity’ comment, I was not speaking about you personally, but in general, such as with regard to becoming less clueless by doing the homework.

  14. Politcal Economist says:

    Hi Dennis, all the pictures in the main article are not showing properly. Or is it just my computer?

    • GoneFishing says:

      Must be your computer settings. I have an old one and it the graphs show up fine.

    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Hi Political economist,

      I tried it on several different browsers and it seems to be working.

    • JN2 says:

      PE, I notice Dennis’s images are in .PNG format. Maybe you have an ancient Microsoft browser which can’t handle them?

      • Dennis Coyne says:

        Hi JN2,

        My charts in the posts are usually png so if it has not been a problem in the past, in theory it should not be a problem now.

        • Fred Magyar says:

          The issue with PNG files or any file for that matter is how they are created. I can create a vector image based color graph save that as PNG and it will generally be a small file size. However I have seen people save a vector image as a pixel based full color high rez JPEG, which, while it might look identical to my original file when viewed on someone’s desktop it could easily be ten or more times larger in terms of file size.

      • Politcal Economist says:

        Hi Jn2, thanks.

        When I was at a Starbucks, those graphs in the main article were not displayed.

        Then I moved to Barnes & Nobles, all pictures were showing properly.

        Now I am back home, all pictures disappeared again.

        All pictures in the comment section have always shown nicely.

        Does some one have a technical explanation for this observation?

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Political economist,

          Are you using a computer or a smartphone? Do you usually have problems with the website at home, I do not have an explanation. It works at my house on chrome opera, Microsoft edge, and internet explorer. I don’t have firefox, a bad install I could not repair.

          It also works on an android smartphone, maybe your bandwidth is limited?

        • Fred Magyar says:

          Does some one have a technical explanation for this observation?

          Sure! But if we just gave it to you, we’d probably have to have you killed…

          Unfortunately the answer requires trouble shooting and information about your device, OS, browser, browser settings, service provider and all your bank account information… 🙂

          I’d start by trying a different browser other than the one you are currently using.

          • Politcal Economist says:

            Alright, I won’t have myself killed.

            I actually have had some problem opening some websites at home lately. So something is not right.

            But so far I’ve had no problem with this site, except Dennis’s PNG graphs. I tried chrome. It’s the same

            The problem is limited to my computer. I can see the graphs using my smartphone.

            • GoneFishing says:

              When you save a picture does .png come up in the list of file types? If not, you will have to get the support files for .png.

            • Fred Magyar says:

              What application do you have associated with PNG files on your computer? In other words if you open a PNG file on your computer what application opens it? Are you using Windows, Mac or Unix/Linux OS? Which version of the OS? Which Browser? Do you have the most recent version? Have you updated your computer’s OS or Browser recently? What is your browser displaying where the image should be? Do you get an error message of some sort?

              • Politcal Economist says:

                Thanks. I guess there is not simple straightforward answer.

                I tried to copy the png address and open it directly and it did not work. So my best guess that it’s caused by my wifi service (something about DNS failure).

                It works fine when I go to Barnes & Noble, Beans & Brew, and most Starbucks places. So I will get by

                • Fred Magyar says:

                  Actually there probably is a simple answer and you can usually figure it out if you are willing to methodically go through the trouble shooting steps.

                  Or you can go to Google or YouTube enter the issue with your specific computer and browser information and you will get at least an idea of where the solution may lie…

                  Since I don’t know your specific info the solution given at this link may or may not work in your case. But it is an example of the kind of information you can find on line.


                  Google Chrome will not load some PNG images due to ERR_SPDY_PROTOCOL_ERROR


                  submitted 1 year ago * by Torus8
                  I’m using Chrome version 44.0.2403.107 m on a Windows 7 SP1 laptop. Images on Wikipedia will not load for me. They either don’t display at all or the broken image placeholder icon displays instead.
                  Here’s a picture of the network tab in the Chrome DevTools. As you can see, it tries to load the PNG images, but it fails. I copied a few of the direct URLs to the images and loaded them in a new tab, and I was met with this error message. I tried googling a solution, but I could not find any information about the error message on the web.
                  It’s worth noting that the same problem occurs in Firefox; however, when I go to the URL of the image, instead of seeing an error message, I see the image! Internet Explorer does not have this problem at all; it loads all of the images and displays them in the webpage just fine….

                • Dennis Coyne says:

                  Hi Political economist,

                  sorry about that, in the future I will use the gif format rather than png.

                  • Politcal Economist says:

                    Dennis, thanks a lot. Please continue using whatever format that is best for you and most readers.

                    I can still see your graphs using my smartphone and office computer.

                  • Dennis Coyne says:

                    Hi Fred,

                    You seem to know a little (or maybe a lot, more than me anyway) about computer graphics, would gif or jpg be preferred to png as being more universally compatible with browsers? If that is right would gif or jpg be the better choice? (I am looking for whichever is less likely to result in the kind of problem Political economist is having.

                    After very brief research jpg seems to be compatible with the largest number of browsers.

                  • Fred Magyar says:

                    Ok, full disclosure, not to pat myself on the back, but I did own a computer graphics studio back in the early days of the internet and did extensive graphics work on multiple platforms for both the music and toy industries. I also worked for a large corporation that produces a very high end scientific graphics application which I still use to this day.

                    So to answer your question as to which is better, PNG, GIF or JPEG?
                    They all should work fine with any modern browser on any platform. It really boils down to what you are trying to achieve.

                    Here’s a link that might give you a bit of insight.


                    Learn When to Use JPEG, GIF, or PNG with This Graphic

                    When working with images, certain file formats may be better than others, depending on what your goals are. This infographic showcases the best uses for JPEG, GIF, and PNG file formats.

                    The graphic comes from Who Is Hosting This and is meant to help us choose the right file type when saving an image. JPEG’s ability to reduce file size up to 15% without losing quality makes it useful for web pages (faster uploads and less storage space usage)—especially for colorful photos. GIF files allows for transparency and animation; they’re best for simple images with few colors. PNG is great for logos and might be more attractive than JPEG and GIF, depending on if file size is an issue or not.

                    Note: I would continue to use PNG format for your graphs and charts, the reason being is that much like a vector based logo it usually gives you the crispest output for the lowest file size. Caveat being that you can easily save a pixel based image (photograph or screenshot) as a PNG and that would kinda defeat the purpose.

                  • Dennis Coyne says:

                    Thanks Fred,

                    Very helpful.

                • Caelan MacIntyre says:

                  Did I just pay about $5 for a relatively-small iced chai on two separate occasions at Starbucks?

  15. texas tea says:

    Electric Vehicles Won’t Kill Off Oil Demand Anytime Soon

    dont shoot the messenger, but i highly suspect Rapier is right on this one 👍

    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Hi Texas Tea,

      When oil peaks and prices rise, plugin hybrids and EVs will sell a lot. Rapier is correct if “soon” is before 2030, but if plugin-hybrids and evs grow at 50% per year until 2029, then plugin sales will be at 69% of new car sales, if all new car sales grow by 2.5% (from 90 million in 2015). Rapier may not consider 2029 “soon”, or he may not believe plugin vehicle sales will continue to grow that fast, perhaps batteries will be a limiting factor and sales cannot grow that fast.
      The Chinese company BYD is growing rapidly, Nissan, Chevorolet, Ford, Audi, VW, BMW, Mercedes, and Tesla are all in the game. Things may change more quickly than Robert Rapier believes, especially as oil output growth slows around 2018 and remains on plateau until 2024, with oil prices rising. Battery costs will come down making plugin hybrids and EVs very attractive.

      We will see how it plays out over the next 10 years, we may be at 15 million in EV/plugin hybrid new car sales by 2025.

      • Politcal Economist says:

        But if oil price rise leads to collapse of global economy, then oil price may collapse again, preventing the sale of EVs.

        • Oldfarmermac says:

          Yogi sez predicting is hard, specially the future.

          Personally I believe a sharp decline in oil supplies, a shark fin decline, would break the back of the world economy, and that it might never fully recover, or ever even stand up again. There are just too many industries that are too big that are dependent on oil for us to manage a shark fin decline in oil supplies.

          But things might work out ok, ok meaning without catastrophic troubles, if oil production DOES plateau and then decline gradually.

          One thing that is not mentioned often is that while the developing world is growing fast, economically, most of it is not yet MARRIED WITH CHILDREN to the personal automobile industry.

          If oil is expensive, and stays expensive, with the price gradually rising, then relatively poor countries may opt to spend their new found wealth on things OTHER than cars.

          The economic picture can be redrawn by a government unwilling to make a bet on being able to import affordable oil well into the future. Such a country may well opt for dense development, trams, trains, community buses, and OF COURSE the electric car,assuming electrics really do get to be cheap. This approach would enable such a country to grow economically using only relatively modest quantities of oil. With aggressive planning, it would probably be possible for most developing countries to continue to develop using only a tenth of the oil per capita we use here in the USA, maybe even less.

          And for what it’s worth, I am personally convinced that if a country gets to be rich enough to afford electric cars, but batteries remain expensive, then people will gladly settle for electrics with very short ranges, maybe as short as thirty or forty miles.

          A person who has never had a car before , and never been able to travel independently before, will be glad to own a car with a thirty or forty mile range,rather than no car at all. There are tens of millions of people here in the USA who hardly ever go more than ten or fifteen miles from home in their car on a regular basis.

          There is nothing preventing a car rental industry coming into being that will provide a long range electric or conventional car very cheaply for occasional use, other than the fact that lots of government agencies have been captured by the folks they supposedly regulate. Such regulators are necessary, but keeping them from morphing into guardians of the status quo is a hell of a problem.

          There is also a very strong possibility that quite a lot of us reading this forum today , 8/1/16 , will live to see prosperous people in the USA commuting in micro mini cars capable of just barely reaching the new national speed limit of forty or forty five mph.

          Such a car built low and narrow, well streamlined, from lightweight materials, two seats fore and aft, can easily go over a hundred mpg using a lawn mower sized diesel engine, and go a hundred miles on battery power using a battery only a quarter of the size of the one currently used in the new model Volt.

          We are not going to walk away from our sunk investment into suburbia !!!!!

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Political economist,

          What oil price in 2016$, do you think would be needed to lead to such a collapse. In 1980 the share of World GDP spent on oil (BP data in tonnes converted to barrels at 7.33 b/tonne and data from BP on nominal oil price) was 7.26%.
          In 2015, 7.26% of spending on oil would have been a price of $167/b (2015$). We will probably be ok at nominal oil prices up to $120/b, at 2015 levels of GDP, nominal GDP grows at around 3.5% per year, so prices could rise annually from $120/b at about the rate of growth of nominal GDP, if we were at $120/b already.

          It seems unlikely that oil prices that result in less than a 5% share of total spending on oil would result in an economic collapse. Even if it did and oil prices collapsed, it seems relatively unlikely that such a collapse would be permanent, eventually oil prices would stabilize (possibly with government intervention along the lines of the RRC of Texas) so that oil production would be profitable at a price that maximizes supply and fulfills as much demand as possible.

          Even your preferred economic solution would seem to lead to this. Now the demand for petroleum liquids could be reduced by building light rail, rail, and electric busses where population density is adequate. In more rural areas the preferred solution would be plugin hybrids and in suburbs maybe EVs.

          Does the collapse scenario seem very likely to you?

          If so could you briefly give your reasoning.

          • Politcal Economist says:

            Dennis, it partly depends on what one means by “collapse”

            If we are talking about oil price as the deciding factor that leads to global recession, yes, it will probably be substantially higher than what is needed to encourage EV.

            But a surge in oil price could just be a contributing factor to global recession. In that case, it is not inconceivable that before oil price rises to sufficiently high and stay there for sufficiently long to encourage large-scale purchase of EV, global economy already slips into recession.

            In global economic recessions, oil prices are typically too low (say, around $30-40/barrel) to stimulate substantial substitution of gasoline car by electric car.

            • Dennis Coyne says:

              Hi Political economist,

              With falling battery prices, sustained oil prices above $100/b but less than $150, maybe about $125/b may be the sweet spot that allows enough oil to be produced so that either a slow decline or a plateau is maintained until 2025 and EVs and plugin hybrids start to ramp up. Falling costs for this technology from economies of scale may then start to reduce oil prices as demand for oil might start to fall faster than supply, there would then be a competition between falling oil prices and falling battery prices.

              Lots of stuff could happen which might lead to recession in the interim.

              • Politcal Economist says:

                My guess is that it will take a strong global economy (say, global economic growth rate > 4%) to take oil price above $100/barrel in the next two or three years.

                But the US economy appears to be down the Japanese path. The other major economy is China. It’s not just debt. Energy prices have come down but wage cost has risen rapidly. That sounds like a good thing. But in a capitalist economy, that means falling profit rate. Private investment has already slowed down sharply.

                So at some point in the coming five years or so, we are likely to be hit by a global recession, possibly more severe than the 2008-2009 crisis. After that, there will be no more China as the leading engine and India will be a poor substitute.

                • Dennis Coyne says:

                  Hi Political economist,

                  You are more optimistic about oil supply than I am, if World real GDP growth (market exchange rate weighted rather than PPP) grows at 2%/year or more, oil prices are likely to rise to $100/b or more by Sept 2019, as long as oil supply responds so that either a plateau or slow decline is maintained from that point, then Brent oil prices may stay under $150/b (in 2016 US$).

                  By 2022 +/- 3 years, I expect oil output will be clearly declining even with high oil prices and World C+C+NGL will be about 2% below the “plateau” level which I expect to be 86.5 Mboe/d +/-2%. World C+C+NGL output will fall to 84.5 Mboe/d by 2026 and will decrease at under 1% per year until 2030. I expect a global recession in the 2030s. Peak oil and possibly even peak fossil fuels will be pretty clear to all by then and national governments worldwide might implement policies to speed the energy transition.
                  A carbon tax/fee would be a start, along with public investment in public transport, better urban and suburban design (walkable and bikeable neighborhoods), and an HVDC grid.

                  A “planned economy” might allow a rapid transition, as long as it is democratic and temporary (maybe 10 to 15 years), it might be feasible, but a crisis would be needed (Great Depression 2) for that to occur imo.

      • Fred Magyar says:

        I agree that this discussion revolves in part around what the definition of ‘SOON’ is.

        Another interesting observation to which I don’t have a handy link at the moment is that the most successful companies to market and sell EVs are not going to be your traditional auto manufacturers. EVs are not really cars, they are computers on wheels so you can not leave out companies like Apple or Google from the equation.

        Then we have another related issue which is self driving EVs and the transfer of ownership to companies such as Uber, Lyft and Zip Car and therefore people, especially in urban centers, no longer needing to actually own the vehicles.

        BTW if oil prices keep cycling in a boom and bust cycle eventually crashing the economy, then perhaps we will finally create a completely different kind of economic system such as some form of a steady state circular economic system.

        We should be in for some interesting times!

      • Javier says:

        When oil peaks and prices rise, plugin hybrids and EVs will sell a lot.

        This is actually comical. When oil peaks and prices rise the economy will enter into crisis mode and people won’t be able to buy most things, much less EVs. The time for the transition was before Peak Oil, but then there was no need, right?

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Javier,

          Will the crisis be permanent? Lower economic growth reduces energy demand growth. A rise in oil prices will reduce the rate of oil decline, $100/b in 2016$ will not necessarily crash the economy, it didn’t from 2011 to mid-2014.

          Note that World debt to GDP was stable over that period so arguments that debt was increasing don’t really cut it.

    • HuntingtonBeach says:

      It figures a guy from Texas would say “don’t shoot the messenger”. On the internet no less.

      “The federal government has regulated the fuel economy of cars and light-duty trucks for decades, with the latest rules in 2012 dramatically increasing fuel economy and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. A 2010 rule raised the average fuel economy of new passenger vehicles to 34.1 miles per gallon (mpg) for model year 2016, a nearly 15 percent increase from 2011. A second rule, finalized in 2012, will raise average fuel economy to up to 54.5 mpg for model year 2025, for a combined increase of more than 90 percent over 2011 levels. The standards also will reduce the carbon intensity of these vehicles by 40 percent from 2012 to 2025.”

      “Other benefits include improving U.S. energy security and saving drivers money. The car rule for model years 2017 to 2025 is projected to cut annual U.S. oil imports by an additional 6 percent by 2025 from what would happen otherwise, or 400,000 barrels per day. When combined with the rule for model years 2012 to 2016, U.S. oil imports are expected to decline by more than 2 million barrels per day by 2025, equivalent to one-half of the oil the U.S. imports from OPEC countries each day, according to EPA.”

      It doesn’t matter how many EV’s are sold in 2025. The manufactures are going to improve the mileage on all vehicles to meet the standards by aerodynamics, tires, smaller powerful engines, transmissions, cylinder deactivation, turbos-inter cooler, stop-start, electronics, weight reduction, hybrids and EV’s.

    • Coffeeguyzz says:

      Texas Tea

      Electric vehicles may not run oil demand out of the room anytime soon, but if the rapid advances in the Adsorbed Natural Gas (ANG) field continue, things may look a lot different ten years out.

      A couple of outfits are now claiming to be able to manufacture 18 GGE (gallon of gasoline equivalent), formable tanks that can be supplied with line pressure under 500 psi, essentially enabling homeowners who have natgas supply to ‘fill ‘er up’ right at home.

      This whole ANG thing may be one heck of a stealth, disruptive technology, unfolding this past few years at blinding speed.

      • Hickory says:

        Yeh, that ANG is an interesting development.
        It would be an interesting combo w lithium for a hybrid vehicle.

        Sign me up.

      • GoneFishing says:

        Sounds quite interesting. Competitive in cost to EV’s at current natural gas prices. I wonder what the conversion to natural gas and the new fuel system will cost for current gasoline or diesel powered cars and trucks.

        Does not look like a long term solution to the transportation problem, but could get around the problem of imported oil.

  16. Baggen says:


    Perhaps a bit OT but would like to hear your opinion about the following article.

    Is it correct or are there flaws in the reasoning here?

    • Chris says:

      Typical “we are the best and the cheaper” for a company loosing money at 45-50$/BOE.
      If I well understood their investor presentation, they need 50-55$/BOE to not loose money (although they cut CAPEX).

  17. R Walter says:

    Japan is paying ¥26,020 for a metric ton of oil today. ¥102.35 for a dollar, the cost of a barrel of oil is $34.83 in Japan.

    Oil will be below 40 usd heading for 35 usd.

  18. GoneFishing says:

    Energy losses of oil from well to customer. Hall, et. al.

    • GoneFishing says:

      Looking at just the refinery losses, they are equivalent to 10 kWh per gallon, which is more than enough energy to drive an electric car 30 miles. Considering the average light ICE gets about 24 mpg, then just the refinery energy loss is enough to cover the energy to drive EV’s.

      • JN2 says:

        Thanks GF. Good point. Maybe EV’s are kWh neutral? No grid expansion required?!!!

        Would love to know how many kWh of electricity (not energy) go to make a gallon of gasoline. Maybe I should research it 🙂

        • Ulenspiegel says:

          “Would love to know how many kWh of electricity (not energy) go to make a gallon of gasoline. Maybe I should research it ”

          kwh of electrcity is of course one form of energy. 🙂

          1 liter oil contain 10 kWh (thermal) energy, one gallon around 45 kWh.

          If you want to produce 1 gallon of synfuel (from water and CO2) you very likely need around 1.5 times this energy as electricity.

        • Fred Magyar says:

          Would love to know how many kWh of electricity (not energy) go to make a gallon of gasoline. Maybe I should research it

          I tried to pin it down but I’m not sure the information I got, or the data to back it up tell the full story or if they are indeed accurate but here is a link. Lot’s of food for thought if these numbers are even close!

          6 kWh of electricity to refine 1 gallon of gasoline

          Anybody here willing to check into it further? In any case it wouldn’t surprise me too much to find out we waste a huge amount of energy using fossil fuels and that transitioning to electrified transport make sense in terms of overall energy efficiency.

          • Doug Leighton says:

            Another way of looking at it is to consider refinery cost as a percentage of the cost of gasoline. Crude is approximately 50%, refining 23%, and the remainder is distribution, marketing and taxes. You could then calculate wattage from there. Tax percent ranges widely between different countries of course.

          • GoneFishing says:

            Here is the original e-mail from the DOE calculating the 6 kwh figure. Also a well done video by Llewellyn on the subject, start after 4 minutes.
            A Nissan Leaf will go anywhere from 36 miles (35 mph) to 18 miles (75 mph) on 6 kWh of energy.

            Here is the lowdown on refinery energy use:

            “According to the Department of Energy, the 146 refineries consumed the following in 2008:
            98,769,000,000 pounds (44,895,000,000kg) of purchased steam (steam that is not produced by the refiner, but bought)
            42,682,000,000 kWh of electricity
            86,000 pounds of coal
            710,500,000,000 cubic feet of natural gas
            237,161 barrels of still gas
            81,811 barrels of petroleum coke

            Of note: liquefied petroleum gases and heavy fuel oil were also used, but not calculated as their use at U.S. refiners amounted to less than 6,000 barrels. ”


            Considering the upstream losses of all that electricity, natural gas and materials makes it even worse. The petroleum system is so widespread geographically and so complex, being fed by other complex systems, that energy waste is huge. What ever happened to Keep It Simple?

            • Doug Leighton says:

              You’re forgetting something: oil companies are in the business of making money, not supplying oil/energy. Perhaps LTO guys have a modified agenda: keeping the execs rich (piss on the shareholders) but that’s another topic. 🙂

              • GoneFishing says:

                Now you made me feel bad. I feel like the guy that found the magnets under the roulette wheel and told everybody about it. 🙁

          • JN2 says:

            Thanks Fred. Tesla’s Model S 90D can do 303 miles = 3.4 miles per kWh. University of Michigan has light-duty average mpg at 25.3 mpg, or 4.2 miles per kWh of the electricity used to produce that gallon of gas.

            Bottom line, converting to EVs would have negligible effect on kWh of electricity consumed!

            PS: From the internet: “Driving like a saint, I was able to lift the efficiency of the Nissan LEAF to 4.7 miles-per-kilowatt-hour”. Net negative on the grid…

            • GoneFishing says:

              Sure, taking it easy in an EV saves all those hysteresis losses and less braking losses.

              Here is a range chart for the Nissan Leaf. Due to having only one gear and a fairly flat torque range, aerodynamic drag becomes the over-riding factor. This causes the peak range to be around 25 mph for many electrics (up to 9 miles/kWh).


      • Caelan MacIntyre says:

        From my previous comment:

        “Electricity cannot be mined from the ground like coal. So it is called a secondary source of energy, meaning that it is derived from primary sources, including coal, natural gas, nuclear fission reactions, sunlight, wind, and hydropower.” ~ The National Academics of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine

    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Thanks Gone fishing,

      A more interesting comparison would be to also include the EROEI for the drilled well and then compare to PV (without storage), but some kind of backup should probably be included maybe natural gas power backup from the grid. PV beats oil from output at the source to final energy at the consumer end, but the EROEI at the wellhead for oil may be considerably higher than PV.

      The best comparison would look at “energy in” to create a producing well compared to “energy out” at the consumer end at the wheels and then do the same for the “energy in” to produce and install a PV system compared to the “energy out” at the wheels of an EV. Not sure this has been done.

      • GoneFishing says:

        I don’t want to get into the upstream energy of oil wells. It’s a tar baby.
        Steel production
        rig assembly and transport
        Pump production
        pipe and fittings production
        Waste handling and storage
        Trucking and rail for water, drilling muds, clay, chemicals and waste removal
        Labor energy
        Rig energy
        Separator parts and use energy
        Chemical production
        Diesel generator
        Exploration costs
        Sand mining and transport
        and on and on…..
        Too complex and leads out into many other industries.

        Cost per commercial acre of PV is $500,000.
        2.8 acres to produce a GWh per year out(old number, probably better now) for fixed panels, higher for movable panels.
        So that is a production cost of less than 5 cents per kWh over 30 years. Maintenance costs are low so not included.
        Cost of electricity (average) per kWh is 12 cents and 80 percent useful, so 15 cents.
        Cost of gasoline per useful kWh energy equivalent is 28 cents at 1.90 per gallon.
        Of course the cost of gasoline is highly volatile and we are at a minima now, so one can expect higher future costs.
        I expect the costs of wind and solar power to continue downward, while petroleum and it’s associated systems should go up in the near future.

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Gone fishing,

          Your reasoning on the oil industry would also apply to PV and it is the reason that EROEI is very difficult to do appropriately in order to make a fair comparison between different energy sources. Hall estimates PV to have an EROEI of 3 to 1, World oil and gas is about 18:1 according to Hall.

          I agree that EROEI for PV is increasing and for oil and gas it is decreasing, and I also agree that including storage for PV is not appropriate. A system where excess wind and solar capacity (about 3 times average load) that is widely distributed, would require only about 10% backup and the cheapest backup source (nuclear, hydro, or natural gas) should probably be included in EROEI calculations, batteries and fuel cells are the most expensive backup solution.

          • GoneFishing says:

            Dennis, look at the complexity and huge geographic distribution of the oil industry. There is no way that the solar PV or wind industry is comparable. PV only needs to be shipped once, same with wind turbines. Oil, natural gas and coal have to actively mined and moved every day in an ever accelerating red queen scenario. The energy inputs to them is huge. The human based energy inputs to PV, once installed, are so small on a daily basis, they are near negligible. The mass differences are huge. PV and wind system mass is near zero compared to the fossil fuel industry. The fossil fuel system is like the road system, it needs constant repair and replacement just to keep running the same.

            As Leslie Nielsen says in his golf video ” So you want to play by all the rules?”.
            Let’s play by all the rules, look at the whole system involved. I am sure that you will see the real EROEI of oil is much lower than advertised and in some cases barely makes any energy, it is just mostly other energy sources being transformed into liquids.
            I wouldn’t mind if there was an honest and complete assessment of fossil fuels, their useful energies, and their real effects on the world. Until there is one and until people start listening I will keep digging deeper into the system and revealing it.
            Tonight I will go to a town meeting and bring up this subject and others in an attempt to prevent a fossil fuel distribution center from being built in the town.
            Why one would do that in a descending industry with government plans to reduce demand as well as commercial efforts to reduce demand, I do not know. Building things where the only ones that really profit are the builders and the makers of the building materials seems to be a new game. While the residents are put in harms way and get no advantage. There are always a few others that make money due to the transactions themselves. The business itself is a scam or short lived. There is no public need or long term benefit to expanding the oil industry at this point. It just continues the vulnerability to imports and strengthens the inevitable.

            • Dennis Coyne says:

              Hi Gone Fishing,

              I don’t really think the EROEI helps all that much, there just won’t be enough fossil fuels that can be produced cheaply (even when externalities are ignored), I think the externalities should be included, but deciding the “negative value” of those externalities is not straightforward.

              I do not disagree that wind, solar, and hydro are the way forward, along with EVs, better building efficiency, improved energy efficiency in general, more recycling, cradle to grave product design (manufacturer responsible for disposal of obsolete goods), better quality long lasting products, free university or technical education, and free access to birth control.

              Better tax policy that would lead to more equal income would also help, pre 1965 tax brackets in the US adjusted for inflation with all tax loopholes eliminated would be a start. Maybe eliminate corporate taxes and no tax breaks for dividends and capital gains for individuals.

  19. Caelan MacIntyre says:

    Homework for those interested:

    Find out what’s growing and edible or medicinal around your home and general area and report back. Report back on just one thing or more.
    If you already have some background, feel free to share it.

    Tell us what it is (what they are), where you live (plant’s region); and maybe when and/or what part of it is edible and/or medicinal and so forth.

    While I am relatively-new to medicinals and so am as yet unsure, it is possible that poisonous (or otherwise inedible) plants may nevertheless have medicinal properties.

    Today, I found out what wild flower was growing, often in tandem with, if recalled, wild carrot, and that’s wild parsnip.

    Apparently, over here, it is an introduced/invasive species and while its root or taproot (or however you call it) is edible, because of the human skin’s reaction to its sap (flower/broken stem?) under exposure to sunlight, it is probably not an ideal food source. It might save you, though, if that’s all you have, such as under the snow as a frozen root.

  20. Caelan MacIntyre says:

    7 Life-Changing Lessons I’ve Learned Living on a Caribbean Island

    Lesson #1
    Electricity is overrated. The thought of being without power for hours or days at a time probably would have shocked me before I lived here. Now that I’ve been through a few rainy seasons when power outages are fairly common, I can say from experience that living without power for extended periods of time is not going to kill you. Yes, I have all my electronics here: laptop, iPhone, Kindle, you name it. I’m not living off the grid. So when the power goes out and I have no internet and no means of “entertainment,” I suddenly remember what it is to just breathe. And relax. And hear nothing but the waves and the wind. And I remember that the world keeps spinning regardless of how much or little I do every hour. Power outages are excellent opportunities to disconnect and reflect. And you know what else happens when the power is off? You talk. You actually put the phone away and you talk to the person next to you. Without distractions. When is the last time you did that with any regularity? It’s a reality check.

    • GoneFishing says:

      I like electricity, however I spent a lot of time out in the wilderness and tent camping with no electricity. Yes, we can live without electricity and if you have fruit and nuts growing on the trees, some free ranging chickens and pigs and some fish nearby; life can be easy and good.
      Generally there are too many laws and too many busy-bodies to allow people to just live in most areas.

      • Caelan MacIntyre says:

        That’s a good point about ‘laws’, GoneFishing, although it appears that an increasing number of people are challenging them. Coincidentally, I just mentioned something about that to someone yesterday:

        Them: “I have 2 acres that I let go to weed this year to see what would grow and found medicinal plants growing everywhere and it’s actually beautiful .”

        Me: “I tried to do that (ironically in order to transplant and create a decorative edible wilds garden)… and promptly got a letter from the town ordering to mow it, that it was looking unsightly. But before it was mowed, I did manage to find out what was growing and to even eat some of it. Did you know that bedstraw (if recalled) for example tastes delicious? Kind of nutty.”

        In any case, this is in part sort of the direction we need to be heading in– likely in a hurry if severe collapse is baked-in, but even if it is not.

        • GoneFishing says:

          I am not worried about severe collapse. If it does happen, 8 or 9 out of ten will die so I don’t see much future in worrying about it, when it will probably just kill me and mine. I try and focus on change and improvement, preceded by a realistic full analysis of the situation.
          However, you are right. We do need to pursue activities that soften and reduce the energy, materials and land use by people.
          Getting rid of huge, complex energy and material sucking activities and replacing them with simpler and more directly effective systems is one way.
          Individuals and small groups can even go further than that.
          The future will work itself out and be changed by those more invested in it, the next couple of generations. Individuals and small groups can innovate and invent, showing the path forward. However, it is the mass of people taking up all those changes that actually makes the difference. It is their choice and their work that will do it or not.
          Some days it’s like shoveling against the incoming tide. Eventually the tide does change though.

    • A reality check would be to see this guy try to run a modern factory, water purification plant, or hospital with frequent power cuts.

  21. GoneFishing says:

    Performance data and specs for five electric vehicles. Note the drag coefficients and horsepower needed at 70 mph.

  22. Fred Magyar says:

    Somewhat pertinent to this discussion:

    Some reflections on the Twilight of the Oil Age – part I
    Guest post by Louis Arnoux

    This three-part post was inspired by Ugo’s recent post concerning “Will Renewables Ever ReplaceFossils?” and recent discussions within Ugo’s discussion group on how is it that “Economists still don’t get it”? It integrates also numerous discussion and exchanges I have had with colleagues and business partners over the last three years.

  23. GoneFishing says:

    It wouldn’t due to skip tar sands in this discussion of energy transistion. It has taken on a large role lately and caused much controversy. From an energy standpoint it is probably the poorest return, needing large amounts of natural gas to produce it and then convert it to synthetic oil. The synthetic oil then needs to be refined further to produce usable products. Tar sands that are below the surface mining level need even higher inputs of energy to produce them. Yes, they do produce a liquid fuel but at high cost in natural gas use, surface pollution and large amounts of atmospheric pollution. There was some concern about getting enough natural gas to produce tar sands oil but the US shale gas boom solved that for now. When push comes to shove, it might be a better energy choice to just burn the natural gas directly. Certainly would be less polluting and less energy intensive. Canada seems gung-ho on this project, even squashing dissent among Canadians.

  24. GoneFishing says:

    Predicting the Future. Can we do better? Is training and experience better than inherent talents? Not really.
    “Those talents might be largely down to our genes, whereas forecasting ability should, in theory, be down to experience and learned skill. Yet top political experts tend to perform very poorly at crystal ball gazing: Philip Tetlock at the University of Pennsylvania has found they do only slightly better than chance. “Chimps randomly throwing darts at the possible outcomes would have done almost as well as the experts,” is how one political scientist summarized the findings to the New York Times.”

    • Doug Leighton says:

      Ask five economists and you’ll get five different answers – six if one went to Harvard. Edgar Fiedler

    • Doug Leighton says:

      The herd instinct among forecasters makes sheep look like independent thinkers. Edgar Fiedler

    • Doug Leighton says:

      If you have to forecast, forecast often. Edgar Fiedler

      • Puffalar (Your Five-Alarm Puff) says:

        You’re on a roll! ^u^

      • Petro says:

        ….or have a gazillion scenarios based on assumptions and presented with charts so colourfull that will make the rainbow look black and white.

        ….one of them will be the correct one…..


        • Puffalar (Your Five-Alarm Puff) says:

          Actually, Petro, yours is the funniest of the bunch. Bravo! ^u^

        • GoneFishing says:

          The great thing about predicting the future is that if people believe it or if it even just casts doubt, the prediction itself can change the future.

          Peak oil was predicted and now there is a glut.
          The end of oil and civilization crashing was predicted and renewable energy and efficiency are on the rise.
          Global warming was predicted and it is happening.

          Hey, one out of three is not bad.

          • Petro says:

            You missed the point of my comment…. was not addressed at you…

            Peak oil is not a prediction, but a reality!
            You have misunderstood the “glut”….

            “Renewables”, “efficiency” and civilization crashing….. you lost me there.
            How “predicting” one relates to the other….?
            Everything in nature has a birth, a climax and a decay phase, so again, the decay of our techno – industrial – just-on-time civilization is NOT a prediction….
            Just because something has not happened YET…. doesn’t mean that it won’t….

            So, you see, you are 3 for 3….
            Well done!

            Be well,


            • GoneFishing says:

              I know exactly who it was meant for. This morning I made a prediction about the future concerning that. I am waiting to see it come true.

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Petro,

          There is essentially one set of scenarios for fossil fuels, with a high, medium and low case that I have produced.

          In some cases in responses to comments complaining that the scenarios are not realistic and that X or Y are more likely, I create new scenarios showing what is necessary for extraction rates in order to see X or Y occur. The medium scenario I used in this post is roughly the median between high and low scenarios for fossil fuel output. The high and low cases are pretty close to the Work of Steve Mohr.

          Link below is a brief summary of Steve Mohr’s PhD thesis.

          The full dissertation is at the link below.

          • Petro says:

            The medium scenario is 11 billion people by 2100…..?!?!?!

            What’s the high…… displacing bacteriae and virii ….?

            … and even IF i entertain this absurdity, our primary energy growth is roughly 4 times by 2100 – yet population “only” grows by 50%…
            … do you see how stupid “increased efficiency” dreams are?
            We are going to use roughly 2-3 times MORE energy per capita in 2100 according to your scenarios…..
            So, even though our iGadgets and Teslas are going to be more efficient then, we are going to use more of them….

            ….because we are at our core ANIMALS….. you and Dr. Mohr and other smart “PhDs” somehow forget to include that in the predictions…..

            We cannot defy evolution, biology and mother Nature, no mater how “sapiens” we think we are and no matter how colourful our charts are….

            We are consuming the last bits of our Petri dishes’ agario my friend….
            There will be no 11 billion and 2100… and to periphrase
            M. Jagger, you can “paint that black”!

            • Dennis Coyne says:

              Hi Petro,

              I agree population is not likely to grow to 11 billion, this scenario for energy demand is a high scenario coupled with a “medium” fossil fuel supply scenario.

              The point was to make it difficult to accomplish the energy transition by assuming energy intensity would fall by less than I expect (no more efficiency improvements after 2050 is exceedingly conservative/unrealistic), by assuming population would grow more than I expect, and that economic growth would be higher than I expect.

              Changing the assumptions to lower population growth, lower economic growth and continuing efficiency improvements (but at a gradually decreasing rate) would all have the effect of reducing energy demand and would make it easier to accomplish an energy transition.

              I had thought this would be obvious, perhaps not.

              • Petro says:

                “This” (whatever you mean by it) is not obvious NOT because I did not understand it, but because you and your PhDs have it wrong in your head.

                First, efficiency has its limits.
                Some electric motors for example, are already >97% efficient and, as you and other PhDs may know Dennis, there is this pesky thing called thermodynamics that does not allow us to go to 100% and beyond….

                But most importantly, efficiency with growth continuing means nothing. It means that when we become more efficient, we will produce more and cheaper and therefore, more Chinese and Indian illiterates will join the iGadget “progress” which will guarantee that we are f****d!

                Efficiency is relevant ONLY and ONLY when we take the word “growth” out of our vocabulary, otherwise it exacerbates and compounds the problem…. and that is complex system theory my friend.
                Complex dissipative systems CANNOT transition smoothly. They either grow or crash – there is no other way!

                That is what you did NOT make so “obvious” in your post and that is what big head PhDs who write articles are missing or do not know altogether….

                I got one of the damn things a few years ago and I think I got dumber after my thesis was accepted….

                Anyway, we are past the tipping point already, so this is “dust in the wind” as it’s said…..

                Be well,


                • Caelan MacIntyre: Technology And Education For The Disembodied says:

                  I wanted to get back to this, so here we go (with bonus track!)…

                  “Someday maybe ‘all the people’ will be ‘sharing all the World’ and ‘the World can live as one.’ A nice thing to strive for, but it will be ‘a long and winding road.’ ” ~ Dennis Coyne

                  You’re too cute, even maybe when you’re trying something else. Get someone you have an affection for give you a hug and a smooch on the cheek for me.

                  Dennis, we communicate– entirely disembodied– through media. (For all I know, you’re one of Fred’s AI’s.). You embellish yours with graphs and a ‘Hi Whomever’; I do so with music links (for the time being anyway); others with the odd pic, and so on.

                  We are not painted-face-to-face dancing around, or throwing stones in, campfires, despite TOD once having something called that.
                  Yes, I realize that some have drunk some kool aid with regard to how fab the net is/was and how it allows us to communicate with people all over the world, etc., but is it really that great what we are doing with it? Is the world getting any better?

                  And isn’t that the case with technology in general? A whole lot of promise and then pfft?
                  (Reminds me of Louis Arnoux’s awkward if fun-sounding ‘Oil Fizzle Dragon-King’.)

                  In many cities I see people walking around like zombies peering at their digital gadgets and hardly looking at reality like we used to.

                  That’s that disconnect again. Technology disconnects, and in some regards, it’s too efficient. It’s too efficient at trashing the planet. It’s too efficient on the one hand and inefficient on the other.

                  We’ve moved on since The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and yet we haven’t at all. We’ve even gone backwards, and not in the right ways either.

                  Now, onto the connect…

                  Here’s Paul McCartney with Killing Joke’s bassist, Youth, talking about a project, ‘The Fireman’.

                  And here’s Sara Brightman (‘operatic’, etc.) looking for help from Jaz Coleman (Killing Joke’s singer), the guy Fred suggested needing help or somesuch.
                  Well, I think we all need help, including Fred.

                  And without further ado…

                  “Running through this maze – cry at what I see
                  A civilization with values alien to me
                  All the role models, lost souls, false gods that I am shown
                  Ordeals that I pass through for purposes unknown…

                  Help try getting me out
                  In a transient phase
                  At the end of an age
                  Running through this maze…

                  A bachelor’s degree in loopholes and a master’s in self-interest
                  Studies for automatons and syllabus two
                  A city and guilds in extortion and a PhD in fuck you…” ~ Labyrinth

    • Doug Leighton says:

      Or my favorite: “For economists the real world is often a special case.” Edgar Fiedler

      • Fred Magyar says:

        Einstein dies and goes to heaven only to be informed that his room is not yet ready. “I hope you will not mind waiting in a dormitory. We are very sorry, but it’s the best we can do and you will have to share the room with others.” he is told by the doorman whose name is Pete. Einstein says that this is no problem at all and that there is no need to make such a great fuss. So Pete leads him to the dorm. They enter and Albert is introduced to all of the present inhabitants.

        “See here is your first room mate. His IQ is 180!”
        “Why that’s wonderful!” Says Albert. “We can discuss mathematics!”
        Here is your second room mate. He has an IQ of 150!”
        “Why that’s wonderful!” Says Albert. “We can discuss literature!”
        “And here is your third room mate. His IQ is 100!”
        “That’s Wonderful! We can discuss the latest plays at the theater!”
        Just then another man moves out to capture Albert’s hand and shake it. “I’m your last room mate and I’m sorry, but my IQ is only 80.” Albert smiles back at him and says, “So, where do you think interest rates are headed?”

        • HuntingtonBeach says:

          Then the guy seating next to Albert pokes him and he wakes up. Albert rises his head and realizes it’s Sunday morning. Where he is sitting with his two standard deviations below the means friends.

  25. GoneFishing says:

    Energy efficient houses of he future that exist now.

    Here is a German energy efficient test house.

    Net Zero Evolution


  26. Oldfarmermac says:

    I can’t copy the link for some reason, but there is a company that is now building graphene automobile parts on an experimental basis.

  27. Oldfarmermac says:

    Maybe somebody with substantial knowledge of the way airliners were built ten or fifteen years ago can shed some light on why the one that burnt today after an emergency landing burned so hot and fast.

    It’s my impression that the fuel tanks are mostly in the wings in airliners, or at least amidships, and that most of the materials used to build them are relatively resistant to fire. This plane appears to have burnt like a fire bomb starting at the tail end.

    My guess is that the plane was either hauling some very highly flammable cargo, or that somebody managed to put a fire bomb on board disguised as cargo or luggage.

    We are already spending enormous sums on countering terrorism, sums that could otherwise be spent on the energy transition which will go a long way toward reducing the incentive for people to become terrorists. If we weren’t in the Middle East because that’s where the oil is, the terrorist problem would be reduced by three quarters or more.

    • GoneFishing says:

      I would assume the fire was mostly fed by fuel after the one engine was ripped off. The center tank may have been compromised. Possibly fuel lines severed or a leak from the auxiliary power unit. The APU is located at the back of the craft where the fire seemed to start. The cargo, interior plastic and seating foam is generally quite flammable, but the speed of the fire meant is was probably fed by fuel. Once fire reaches the center tank, it’s all over. Oxygen bottles on board too.
      The aluminum itself will burn if thin (explosive when powdered).

  28. Paulo says:

    Speaking of Alberta ‘Sands’, there is an article this morning where Suncor is asking permission to leave resources in the ground.

    Now guess which ones? The profitable or the marginal ? (Bzzzzzz. You win.)

    Interestingly, they are using an ‘environmental justification’ to ‘high grade’, presently not permitted in their leases.

  29. Bob Nickson says:

    Speaking of corkscrews, here’s one for haR Walter’s enjoyment:

    • Fred Magyar says:

      Holy Smokes Batman! That’s almost in the same league, as failures go, as BP’s Deep Water Horizon blowout! The long term environmental damage to the vegetation below must have been devastating and probably lasted for at least a couple of weeks. The toxic plumes from the burning turbine nacelle and the fire fighting chemicals that were sprayed to put out the fire must have been detectable down wind for at least a whole quarter of a mile or so. The poor cows in the fields were very probably totally freaked out, and the total death toll was at least a half dozen pigeons and three or four squirrels… Har!

      At the Bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, Corals and Diversity Suffered After Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

      A Long Time Coming

      Life on the bottom of the ocean moves slowly. Deep-sea corals live for hundreds to thousands of years, and their deaths are rare events. Some of the corals coated in oily brown floc are about 600 years old (Prouty et al. 2014). The observed impacts to life in the deep ocean are tied closely to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, but the full extent of the harm and the eventual recovery may take years, even decades, to manifest (Fisher and Demopoulos, et al. 2014).

      • The article carefully avoids outlining the damaged area, which is a tear drop shape area about 15-20 miles long. This is located in waters 1000 meters deep, and it’s not exactly critical. A much worse damage area is found nearby, off the Mississippi delta, caused by de oxygenation of deep water and saturation with hydrogen sulfide. This is believed to be caused in large part by Mississippi River water carrying too much fertilizer. The problem is compounded by the Birdfooot delta’s long extension into deep water, caused by Corps of Engineers dredging.

        • Fred Magyar says:

          This is located in waters 1000 meters deep, and it’s not exactly critical.

          Sorry Fernando, but you keep demonstrating over and over again how little you understand about ecosystem complexity! First the Deep Water Horizon clean up efforts caused much more damage to food webs at different depths than merely what happened in those teardrop shaped plumes on the actual ocean floor. Do you know for example how many species of crustaceans such as shrimp go through different stages of maturation at different depths in the water column?

          I doubt you will take the time to read this document, let alone truly understand the implications but I’ll post this link for your perusal anyways.

          Broad, interconnected impacts require a comprehensive
          restoration plan: The impacts caused by the
          Deepwater Horizon spill cannot be fully described at
          the level of a single species, a single habitat type, or a
          single region. Rather, the oil released into the environment
          was toxic to a wide range of organisms, and it
          resulted in injuries to multiple habitats, species, and
          ecological functions. These injuries affected such a
          broad array of linked resources and ecological services
          over such a large area that they can best be described
          as an injury to the entire ecosystem of the northern
          Gulf of Mexico

          Bold mine

          A much worse damage area is found nearby, off the Mississippi delta, caused by de oxygenation of deep water and saturation with hydrogen sulfide. This is believed to be caused in large part by Mississippi River water carrying too much fertilizer.

          No Kidding? BUT Seriously? Is that really your best argument for justifying the damage caused by the Deep Water Horizon and suggesting the sea floor areas affected were not critical?!

          I guess only a petroleum engineer could, with a straight face make the argument, that something that effects the entire ecosystem of the northern Gulf of Mexico is NOT CRITICAL!

          • R Walter says:

            It is all apart of the energy transition, so it is on topic.

            Why should humans care about other species when it doesn’t care about its own?

            Why should some shrimp be allowed to live a life free of pollution generated by anthropomorphic means? If humans have to suffer from human action, the Gulf Coast shrimp must. If it takes a mandate from Congress, it can be an executive order too, then so be it.

            Not just the land, air, and water, all life is subject to human intervention and it needs to be mandated that all life is also subject to extermination, an all encompassing Gypsy Hunt, that is, it is legal to pollute waters anywhere on earth and loss of marine life is the result, then a mandate is the way to go.

            Donald Trump is going to fix it all.

            It is not my problem if a few thousand cubic kilometers is rendered useless by humans, the shrimp have a problem, they can solve it. It wasn’t me!

            The shrimp chose to live there, they can suffer the consequences, all a part of the ‘energy transition’. Just another issue with it is all it really is.

            That’s life. Thats what people say. har

          • The article was about ocean floor communities. The water column above the ocean floor is fine, there is no sign whatsoever of the spilled oil (that incident happened six years ago).

    • R Walter says:

      No more electricity from that wind turbine. All it became was about a five million dollar fireworks display for about five minutes of viewing. A million dollars per minute.

      Probably the grim future for all wind turbines.

      Sow the wind, reap a whirlwind. har

      • GoneFishing says:

        RW, that is a very small turbine. 5 million dollars, give me a break.
        Just list all the equipment failures in the fossil fuel industry for one day and get back to me in the three years it takes you write it all down.

  30. Oldfarmermac says:

    Desalinization of sea water is now possible on the grand scale, as demonstrated in Israel.

    This article does not mention what the source of power is to run the processing plants, but I am almost dead sure the fuel is natural gas.

    This brings up a couple of questions, which hopefully somebody can answer.

    Can membrane desalinization plants be run intermittently without damaging the machinery or filters?

    And how much of the current day cost of the water is for electricity, and how much is for the capital expense of the plants?

    If such plants can be built at low enough cost, it will be practical to run them on solar power, meaning only during daylight hours, or mostly during daylight hours, doing away with the need to buy gas to generate electricity.

    Gas may be cheap right now, but it comes out of holes in the ground, and it won’t STAY cheap forever.

    Most kinds of infrastructure, excepting the electrical grid, are actually used quite heavily at certain hours, and lightly used or even shut down at other hours. To the best of my knowledge, only about fifty percent of our electrical generating capacity is actually in use at any given minute on average.

    I will hazard a guess that it will be possible to build desalinization plants cheaply enough to run them on a daily basis during daylight hours, rather than around the clock, within the next few years.

    • Hickory says:

      That is a surprisingly good story from Israel on water. I suspect that nat gas is the energy source as well. Israel, Leb, Cyprus, and Eqypt all have newly discovered large nat gas deposits in the offshore Med Sea that will help.
      They could cover that whole desal plant with a PV shed as well.

    • We have a municipal desalination plant that runs mostly in the summer, during the tourist season. The water here is pretty hard, it comes from reservoirs in carbonate rocks, plus the desalination plant output.

      The plant uses electric power to drive the pumps that pick up sea water and run it through the reverse osmosis units. I assume the Israelis use the same technology for THEIR reverse osmosis plants.

      Long term the Israeli population isn’t viable given the water shortage, unless they develop a lot of nuclear energy or pipe in Nile River water. This also applies to the Arabian peninsula, and Jordan.

      • Oldfarmermac says:

        Hi Fernando,

        Long term just about everybody just about every where has a long term sustainability problem, lol.

        If any country with such severe resource problems makes it, Israel is apt to be the one.

        I am firmly convinced that the price of solar power will continue to fall for at least another decade or so, simply due to economies of scale alone, plus improvements in the manufacturing technology, even if the cell tech remains basically the same. And at least some improvements in cell performance are to be expected.

        If there is any ONE thing the Israelis and their neighbors have PLENTY of , it’s sunny weather, lol.

        If the Germans were relocated to the American southwest, they would be getting eighty percent of their daytime power needs from the sun within a decade, maybe sooner. 😉

        Do you have any idea what the cost breakdown is, in terms of capital expense versus operating expenses for a big new reverse osmosis water desalinization plant? Do you know if such plants can be switched on and off easily, without damage or excessive wear and tear on the equipment? It would appear to me as a layman that this should not be a problem, but then I am not knowledgeable in this area. I do know that many industrial processes need to run continuously for days or weeks because starting and stopping creates LOTS of problems.

        One thing I am sure of is that the Israelis are well enough organized and forward thinking enough to figure out a way to pay for the infrastructure, and they are without a doubt the world leaders in terms of recycling their waste water.

        They also own the ball game in terms of using the least amount of water to produce the greatest amount of food.

        So they have the potential to make enough exporting the technology to pay for their own expanding water infrastructure, and there is no doubt in my mind that they will sell that technology to their enemies on favorable terms, hoping to reduce regional tensions by doing so.

        But I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live there myself. Their only real prospect for peace in the short to medium term is to live ready for war any old time. Real peace might be possible in the long run, but people in that part of the world tend to have VERY long memories.

        I hope you continue to comment on Cuba and Venezuela occasionally. I may be the only person in this forum who really appreciates these comments, but then I am probably the only person who has read up extensively on communism, you excepted.

        Some of the older Chavista officials have switched sides and are now telling it like it is about Cuban influence in Venezuela. You have been proven right on that point, although the extent of Cuban influence may be debatable.

        The Cubans are getting really pissed about not getting enough oil.

        As I see it, Venezuela is ready to explode into a civil war unless the people can get rid of the Maduro regime pretty soon.

        Now as far as CUBA is concerned, I think maybe the more people go there, and the more business the Cubans do with the rest of the world, the LIKELIER it is that the Castro regime will eventually collapse. This is only my personal opinion.

        • Yes, Mac, that’s your personal opinion based on ignorance about the nature of the dictatorship. You show incredible naïveté about life on planet earth. The Obama policy has thus far caused more repression. It has also encouraged the Castro dictatorship to attempt to turn both Venezuela and Nicaragua into full fledged dictatorships controlled by Havana.

          As wags like to say, Bush and Obama are ISIS founding fathers, with Rumsfeld and Hillary having on the ground responsibility. In this new case I can see Obama and his retarded Kerry helping create a dystopian Castro empire extending from Central America to the Caribbean and on to Venezuela and Bolivia.

          • Oldfarmermac says:

            Whoa up a minute old buddy.

            I don’t have your personal experience with Cuba, for sure, but I do know a few things, and it is the informed opinion of a LOT of people who are smarter than I am, and maybe smarter than you, that sometimes the way to bring about change is to bring about a LOT of contact with outsiders.

            People, such as Cuban citizens, who are denied contact with the outside have to get such information as they can, information that seeps thru the blockade imposed on the press in Cuba. It’s fairly easy to keep them scared or cowed and in the dark.

            Once there are a lot of businesses operating doing business with outsiders, and lots of people coming and going, it will be damned near impossible for the Castro regime to keep the people in the dark about what is really going on in the world.

            The apparatchiks themselves in the old USSR came to realize that mechanics and janitors lived better in the west than engineers and plant managers in the USSR.

            The Russian/ USSR communist system rotted out from the inside, as much as from the outside, as the people got to know more about the outside world. Nobody much believed in it any more, not even the kids in commie youth organizations.

            Nobody much was in a position to say so, but everybody was ready for a change, and when the time came, even the people on the inside, in privileged positions, were aware they would be likely be better off in a few years if they just passively let the old system collapse, rather than actively DEFENDING it.

            I doubt very many people still believe in Castro and Castro style communism even now.

            For sure very few will still believe in it ten years from now if they are in contact with lots of foreigners passing in and out of the country.

            Now it could be that people like Alexander Solzhenitsyn are ignorant , but I sort of doubt it, and I have read most and maybe all of his books, plus some more written by other people who managed to get past the old Iron Curtain.

            So it is possible I know a FEW things myself, lol.

            The old USSR, with some help from the Chavista regime, etc, enabled Castro to stay in power since I was a kid, but the USSR is gone, and the Chavista regime will soon be gone too, unless I miss my guess.

            I don’t think the Castro regime can make it without that sort of backing,not too much longer, any way.

            Opening up the country to outside business and visitors on the large scale may indeed enable the regime to hold on a little longer, but that strategy is not apt to work very long.

            It contains the seeds of its own destruction. You can bring in some money and resources by opening up, but you also allow in knowledge of the outside world.

            I do recognize that the Castro regime is thoroughly dug in, and quite as proficient as any other regime , when it comes to controlling dissent, jailing the opposition, rewarding those who play along, punishing those who don’t cooperate, etc.

            And I recognize that it is possible that the regime may manage to stay in power with the country opened up to lots of outside trade and travelers. Other regimes have managed to do so, sometimes for quite a long time.

            The Castro’s have managed to stay in power just about my entire LIFE while mostly isolated. Maybe a change in strategy is justified.

            Now it might sound just a tad redneck of me , but if it were in my power to do so, I would drop about a couple of million pistols with a couple of hundred rounds of ammo for every last one of them, one each to a miniature parachute or in a well padded bag, all over the country, and I expect the Castros would be history within a few weeks after that.

            The Castro’s are murderers, and it wouldn’t bother me a bit to hear they have been murdered. It wouldn’t bother me to hear that every ranking member of the government who fails to advocate holding truly free elections within twelve months were to be murdered as well.

            One reason I have never and will never identify myself as a classic political liberal, American flavor, is that the liberal establishment in this country has just about ALWAYS had its head out of sight up its ass when it comes to communism and any government that labels itself as socialist.

            All my old liberal friends and buddies and coworkers got their panties in a bunch when Ronnie Raygun had the balls to call the old USSR an evil empire. They all defended the Iron Curtain as if it were there to keep filthy rotten capitalists OUT , by way of just ignoring its existence, lol.

            • You happen not to know an iota about Cuba or the way these dictatorships work. Cuba has had European, Canadian and Latin American investors for decades. They set up joint ventures with the dictatorship. The venture is assigned workers, who earn $20 a month, but are charged at say $1000 a month to the jv. Thus the dictatorship earns $980 per month from each slave it rents out.

              The few foreign business men who do interact with Cubans are careful not to upset the apple cart. One because they do make money, and if they start getting involved in politics their deal can be hurt. Two because they can be arrested, given a secret trial, and tossed in a dungeon.

              Over the years I’ve visited, worked, and lived in countries with autocratic regimes, dictatorships, etc. Not once did I see what you propose. It just doesn’t work the way you dream.

              You have been basically sold an attractive idea, sugar coated to be acceptable to you, and now you simply make this your internal belief – based on false premises, and a lot of ignorance.

              Obama, just like he failed UN Lybia, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, is now failing across the board in Latin America. I realize he inherited the Middle East mess from bush, and the Israel lobby jerks USA policies most of the time to make the country act contrary to its interests, to satisfy the Israeli parasite. But in Latin America Obama had an even field. And he’s screwing it up real good. Nicaragua is now falling under another red dictatorship, encouraged by the Castro machine. And the USA continues to suck its thumb.

      • farmboy says:

        Israel,with a total of 8,019 square miles and half of it which is roughly 4,000 square miles or 2.5 million acres receives an average of 20 inches of rainfall per year. 20 inches per acre= 543,083 gallons /acre or 17 rail car tankers/acre. x2.5 million acres = 42.5 million tank cars every 12 months. 88 rail cars to the mile comes to 483,000 miles of tankers or a train that wraps around the equator 20 times.

        So how many gallons is this plant supposed to produce????? and at what cost??????

    • Oldfarmermac says:

      Thanks Robert,

      The standby cost is given at about a one and a half million annually, which I strongly suspect would mostly be spent on salaries at say thirty or forty thousand a week for a manager, a couple of engineers, a few well paid technicians, and a boy or girl toy, as the case may be, to decorate the entrance to the managers office and answer the phone, LOL.

      Maybe I can find out if the plant can be run eight or ten hours a day without creating problems, except for the crew, and that’s what they are there for anyway, to solve problems and keep it running.

      California will eventually have intermittent wind and solar power out the ying yang, and putting desalinized water into reservoirs would be a superb way of making use of any off peak renewable juice not needed elsewhere.

      • It’s not cost effective. What they need to do is stop growing rice and watering lawns with clean water. They just need to recycle.

        • GoneFishing says:

          Or stop building cities and farming in deserts.

          • robert wilson says:

            Leisure Village, the retirement community where I live in So Cal, uses non potable recycled water for its beautiful lawns, plants and trees. The planners were foresighted. However to have recycled water there must first be primary water – from farm-run off etc.

            • Sure, but if water is recycled it cuts overall input by a large amount. Lucky for us the higher CO2 content in the air helps plants breathe better, they save a lot of water. For urban settings we need better plants which use less water with CO2 concentration at say 550 ppm, recycle, and stop waste.

        • HuntingtonBeach says:

          Fernando – “They just need to recycle” – check !

          “With the $142 million expansion, the wastewater program provides enough recycled water to meet the needs of about 850,000 Orange County residents. The Fountain Valley plant is the largest of its kind in the world.”

          “With a final expansion planned sometime in the next decade, officials hope to eventually treat and recycle all the water produced by the sanitation district, which serves 2.5 million people in north and central Orange County.”

          “The 50 million gallons per day (MGD) Huntington Beach Desalination Plant is proposed to be built by Poseidon. The necessary approvals for the desalination plant were obtained in June 2013. Final hearings will be completed in November 2013. Construction is expected to start in 2014 and be completed in 2018.”

          This evening 8/4/16 the Discovery Channel airs a special – KILLING THE COLORADO

          From Academy Award(R)-winning filmmakers Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman, Barbara Kopple, Alan and Susan Raymond, and Sundance Award-winning director Jesse Moss, KILLING THE COLORADO is a glimpse into the serious manmade water shortage that threatens the very existence of the American West.

          • GoneFishing says:

            SMAP global soil moisture.


          • GoneFishing says:

            I have been in the western US a number of times, but never saw Arches National Monument. So I was looking at some photos and maps of Arches, amazing rock forms and landscape. Then I looked outside and all I see is green growing things everywhere. Arches looks like a better version of Mars, mostly rock and dead but warmer with a breathable atmosphere.
            I hope that the rest of the West does not go that way.

            • HuntingtonBeach says:

              Hi Fish,

              The Colorado river storage system hasn’t been full since 1983 and pretty much every year since ends with less fresh water than the year prior. Most all the water goes to agriculture. Fresh fruits, vegetables, hay, cotton etc. for all of us to consume. To help get the feel of how massive this system is go to Google satellite and follow the river from the Rockies to the Gulf of California. Notice how much greener the US farmland is than Mexico. Recycling or Desalination could never replace it.




            • Go to Arches in April. Stay in Moab if you need a hotel. Take a backpack and a front pack to balance you out. Wear a hat and sunscreen. Take water bottles in both packs to keep you hydrated for 14 hours, some food, toilet paper, plastic bags for your waste.

              The hike should be planned to last no more than 10 hours just in case. Take a camera.

  31. One problem with all these projections is the assumption that climate sensitivity is known. I continue to see information which shows the actual figure is lower. There’s also uncertainty regarding the carbon cycle, and how co2 will be removed from the atmosphere over the next 100 years. This climate change issue has become very political, there’s an enormous amount of quasi religious dogma being poured into people’s heads by a well crafted propaganda machine, similar to what was done to sell the Iraq WMD bogus story.

    • GoneFishing says:

      ” there’s an enormous amount of quasi religious dogma being poured into people’s heads by a well crafted propaganda machine” Yes and funded behind the scenes by the Koch brothers and their cronies.

      • Doug Leighton says:

        Meanwhile: “Each of the first six months of 2016 set a record as the warmest respective month globally in the modern temperature record, which dates to 1880, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. The six-month period from January to June was also the planet’s warmest half-year on record, with an average temperature 1.3 degrees Celsius (2.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the late nineteenth century.”

        • Fred Magyar says:

          Doug, don’t you know?! NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York is run by those liberal scientists that are part of the global climate change hoax conspiracy perpetrated for the sole purpose of confiscating the wealth of god fearing Americans while destroying capitalism…

          But it doesn’t matter because next year the truth will come out when the New Ice Age begins!

        • Synapsid says:


          The Hydrometeorological Center of Russia said the same thing a few days ago but I didn’t keep the reference.

        • 2016 is the tail end of the 2014-2015-2016 El Niño. Right now the anomalies are coming down off those peaks.

          When we superimpose a small amount of warming with a strong 3-year El Niño, there’s bound to be a record. The key is to realize the bulk of the jump we see is an El Niño effect. There’s also data cooking going on, with the most extreme gerrymandering being performed by USA agencies.

          The Obama administration has pushed the pedal to the metal when it comes to political bias in science, they are the counterpoint to the Intelligent Designers and the Creationists.

          For example, I use the Danish Meteorological Institute data for the ice volumes, because the USA source appears to be tainted (the two do not agree). The NOAA sources are mostly tainted, and NASA is now becoming highly suspect.

          One source they don’t seem to have reached is the University of Maine’s reanalysis .

          Try the CSFR reanalysis, it’s good through May 2016. This means you can pick the region of the world you want, and plot the temperature going back 35 years for every May including 2016. The plot doesn’t look like the NOAA plots at all.

      • George Kaplan says:

        I wouldn’t want to add to the dogma of course, religious or not, but the weather is kicking the Arctic ice pretty hard this week: warm and wet southerly winds over the Siberian seas, really high sea temperatures around the main pack that has been broken up into pretty small pieces over the summer, a west to east flow pushing the floes into the warm Atlantic, and for the first time extensive melt in the multi-year ice close to the entrance to the Nare’s strait north of the Canadian Archipelago. It could be a new record this year, despite weather in June and July not really conducive to high melt rates, but more than that it might be setting up for extremely low coverage next year. Low ice in the areas seen this year has previously led to very cold winters in Siberia, but also the disruption in the jet stream can have extreme (hot or cold), and seemingly unpredictable, effects through Europe and North America, depending on where the crests and troughs fall.

        • GoneFishing says:

          Scream of the Arctic “I’m melting, I’m melting!!!”

        • GoneFishing says:

          PIOMAS shows Arctic sea ice volume hit a minima already and is increasing. Still well below trend line but not below the 2012 minima. Interesting that the volume is mostly below the trend line since 2006. Accelerating loss?
          “Fig 6. Shows the the anomaly for May 2016 relative to the 2000-2015 base period. While sea ice is thinner overall with particularly negative anomalies in the Beaufort, Barents, and Kara Seas, ice thickness is a bit thicker in the East Siberian Sea area. An area just north of the Canadian Archipelago, which displayed positive thickness anomalies last month, now also shows less ice than the 2000-2015 average. Greater ice thickness along the East Siberian Sea appears to be due to anomalous drift of sea ice from the Beaufort Sea to the East Siberian Sea (Fig 7.)”

          Volume graph:

        • It won’t be a record. The ice mass according to the Danes is holding up well. Water in the Pechora Sea is really warm, but the ice between Greenland and the tip of Alaska is quite thick.

          Meanwhile in Antarctica we continue to see lower than average temperatures, and the ice is fine. From what I can tell there’s a slight negative greenhouse effect over Eastern Antarctica, the wind is blowing hard, and the Antarctic circumpolar current is isolating the continent with a colder than average surface water ring.

    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Hi Fernando,

      The climate sensitivity is uncertain, I agree, there are studies that continue to show that it is about 3 C.
      Yes the carbon cycle is also not known with precision. The uncertainty is reason to be cautious, most engineers know this intuitively.

      When civil engineers are uncertain about the loading of a bridge, do they usually design the bridge so that it is at the low end of their uncertainty range or do they design it so it is unlikely to fail?

      Climate scientists recognize that their is a great deal of uncertainty, and believe that reducing the potential damage to a minimum is a wise course of action.

      In addition, reducing pollution from coal is a good idea even if the ECS is 2 C and supplies of oil and natural gas are not likely to be adequate so we need to develop non-fossil fuel energy, whether climate change is an issue or not.

      The base scenario presented (a high energy demand scenario) assumed no effort is made to reduce carbon emissions, the non-fossil fuel energy is just enough to meet the demand not met by fossil fuels. It is likely that population and the world economy will grow more slowly than in the scenario presented and that energy efficiency will continue to improve after 2050 so that overall energy demand will be lower. In a lower energy demand scenario where population follows the UN’s low fertility scenario, the economy grows more slowly, and energy intensity continues to fall after 2050 (at a continually smaller rate of decrease), non fossil fuel energy demand would be lower.

      • Yes Dennis, studies pour forth repeating the dogma received from above. Other papers say it isn’t so. The key is to keep watching the plots comparing model predictions with real data, and make sure the real data isn’t being distorted to fit a story line. There’s a lot of data distortion taking place.

        My call, as of today, is that the model ensemble used for CMIP5 is running hot. If the El Niño fades (it’s pretty much gone by now), and temperature increases return to the say 2000-2013 trend, then the models have to be rebuilt.

  32. texas tea says:

    Dennis i direct your attention to the short video at the bottom of this link, it touches on this post regarding energy transition.

    • GoneFishing says:

      From the guy who says there is no greenhouse effect and there are no greenhouse gases. I guess planet earth is a giant snowball and never melted. Ho Hum, there goes my expensive physics education again.

      From Wikipedia about Tim Ball
      Ball has said he opposes the scientific opinion on climate change and has stated that he believes global warming is occurring but he believes that human production of carbon dioxide is not the cause.[20][21][22] Ball rejects not only greenhouse gas–induced climate change but the existence of the greenhouse effect itself.[23]

      This guy probably does not believe in infrared radiation, infrared spectroscopy or any inconvenient science. I mean you can’t see it, right?

      • Fred Magyar says:

        This guy probably does not believe in infrared radiation,

        Have him sit on a nice hot stove for a bit… it might be quicker and cheaper than getting an expensive education in physics or any other scientific field for that matter, eh? 🙂

        • GoneFishing says:

          Look Fred, the heat from the stove is not human caused and has nothing to do with CO2. It’s caused by natural gas or wood, so it’s just naturally happening. Though he might get some global warming from it. 🙂

    • Fred Magyar says:

      – Peter Ferrara, senior fellow for budget and energy policy, the Heartland Institute

      Full quote: “The United Nations loves [climate change] because it inspires fantasies of the UN growing up to be a world government, with real government powers of global taxation, spending and regulation, all “to save the planet.” Scientists who go along with the cause are rewarded not only with praise for their worthy social conscience, but also with altogether billions in hard, cold cash (government and environmental grants), for their cooperation in helping to play the ‘useful idiots.’ “

      If I were to start all over again and pick a career I’d become a climate scientist and go to work for the UN, I’d be a billionaire in no time!

      • Raymond Sloop says:

        Well it is quite plain to see the official scientists working on the government (taxpayers) payroll would have more of the incentives let’s say to lie to the public. As you have described before there are a lot of science minded folks with a decade or more of college education plus maybe a few more years of learning beyond that. However they have very, very little to show for all of it. Beyond that there’s the problem of how they need to produce research to keep their careers, yet going against the grain of what’s determined to be mainstream science can keep you from tenure or faculty membership. Which all means that the typical scientist’s work output doesn’t really speak highly of actual academic abilities or experience in the real world outside of academia. I’d also say most of these people are likely resentful of the success of others who didn’t spend the same amount of time in education but wound up with better jobs. “Getting back” at these others by punishing their success would probably be a natural instinct, as long as a suitable mechanism is found. Well in climate change they have one, because taxing carbon or restricting capitalism under the rationale of saving the planet from climate change would most certainly unreasonably punish the successful citizens of the world.

        • Oldfarmermac says:

          ” I’d also say most of these people are likely resentful of the success of others who didn’t spend the same amount of time in education but wound up with better jobs. “Getting back” at these others by punishing their success would probably be a natural instinct, as long as a suitable mechanism is found.”

          I would say, based on knowing quite a few guys and a couple of girls who have gone into pure science that they ALL know they will never make much money doing basic research, such as climate studies.

          BUT if money is the motivation, just about all of them are well qualified to move into industry, or research and development on their own if they can find venture capital, and make a lot of money.

          For my part I used to teach because I wanted to,helping my farm kids get ahead in the rat race. I got tired of the low pay, and spent a few hours brushing up my welding skills so I would be sure to pass the first try, and went a few miles down the road and got a four hundred percent raise immediately, working at the nearby nukes.

          But having said this much, I do agree that there is a solid nut of truth in the argument that if you want a job in climate science, you had best keep your contrarian opinions to yourself when applying for a position, lol.

          I also agree that organizations such as the UN are life forms, in a sense similar to the sense than an ant COLONY is a life form, or a sovereign government is a life form. Such life forms either grow or die, long term. The ones that last tend to grow, as each and every person involved has a direct or indirect incentive to help the organization grow. Growth brings power, influeence, security, and money, lol.

        • Fred Magyar says:

          Which all means that the typical scientist’s work output doesn’t really speak highly of actual academic abilities or experience in the real world outside of academia. I’d also say most of these people are likely resentful of the success of others who didn’t spend the same amount of time in education but wound up with better jobs. “Getting back” at these others by punishing their success would probably be a natural instinct, as long as a suitable mechanism is found.

          I realize that being the absolute fucking asshole that you are, it would never occur to you that the people you are talking about are nothing like what you suggest! You must be confusing scientists with attorneys, bankers and people in finance!

          • HuntingtonBeach says:

            I don’t know Fred, but maybe this is going to become a weekly thing that we disagree. An “asshole” is a very useful and important idem. Matter a fact it’s about time this morning I exercise it and take a sloop. I would have used the word IDIOT.

            Now Raymond, all kidding aside. Has it ever dawned on you that maybe the oil and coal industry has a much bigger invested interest in lying to you than 97 percent of the worlds individual scientists ?

        • Caelan MacIntyre says:

          Specialization– many, glorified obsessive compulsive disorders perhaps– doesn’t seem to be working anyway.

          It may be that specialization is best left to arthropods and the like.

  33. Adam Ash says:

    ‘As B. W. Hill recently noted, “The world is now spending $2.3 trillion per year more to produce oil than what is received when it is sold. The world is now losing a great deal of money to maintain its dependence on oil.”’


    • Caelan MacIntyre says:

      Large-scale, centralized so-called government appears to be doing its darnedest to stay alive. The time may be nigh for the end of it. It looks like it’s between a rock and a hard place. Picklicious.

  34. Doug Leighton says:

    I guess this is Energy Transition (sort of),


    “Increased burning in recent years has meant that more stored carbon has been freed from these ecosystems, which acts as a feedback, leading to more global warming, and hence more wildfires. In addition, the black carbon, or soot, emitted from the fires can land on snow and ice in the Arctic, hastening melting….

    Already, the boreal forest biome has seen some of the most rapid and largest amount of warming of anywhere on earth, with a significant decline in the number of days with extremely cold temperatures, and increases in summertime overnight low temperatures and the length of the frost-free season….”

    • Doug Leighton says:

      Of course I realize the above information may be rubbish from official scientists working on the government (taxpayers) payroll creating more of the incentives let’s say to lie to the public.

      • Doug Leighton says:

        Meanwhile we have this happy thought,


        “The melting of Arctic sea ice is unlike anything we’ve see, going back over 160 years, a new map shows the thawing underside of Greenland’s ice sheet, and the melting in Greenland’s extreme northwest is setting up to release cold war-era hazardous waste. Back in the mid-1960s, in the midst of the Cold War, the US Army shut down a base located in northwestern Greenland, known as Camp Century – home to Project Iceworm, a plan to house mobile nuclear missiles, transported via a railway in tunnels under the ice of northern Greenland…When they abandoned the base, the army left behind an array of potentially harmful biological, chemical and radioactive substances that were expected to remain encased in the ice forever. Now with climate change causing unprecedented losses from the Greenland ice sheet – amounting to some 1 trillion tons of ice lost between the years 2007-2011 and another trillion tons lost between 2011-2014 – “forever” is not likely to be for as long as the US Army had hoped.” Oops! I guess, like love, forever isn’t as long as it used to be.

        • Fred Magyar says:

          Doug, I’m really starting to worry about you you are starting to sound downright ‘Alarmist’! You should try a nice relaxing chant to meditate by and just chill out man 🙂

          Ommm, The New, Ommm, Ice Age, Ommm, is Coming, Ommm!
          Ommm, The New, Ommm, Ice Age, Ommm, is Coming, Ommm!
          Ommm, The New, Ommm, Ice Age, Ommm, is Coming, Ommm!
          Ommm, The New, Ommm, Ice Age, Ommm, is Coming, Ommm!

          • Doug Leighton says:

            Fred, do you think I should chant Ommm or Odin, that cool dude who incites otherwise peaceful people to strife with sinister glee. Odin, as you know, presides over Valhalla, the most prestigious of dwelling-places. After every battle, he and his sidekicks, valkyries, comb the field and take their pick of half of the slain warriors. Freyja, who’s totally into love, sex, beauty, fertility, gold, war, and death, grabs the rest. Maybe I’ll chant Freyja. Ommm doesn’t really appeal to me man.

            • Bob Nickson says:

              It is Skaði you must importune. Her own interests are at stake.

              • Doug Leighton says:

                Okay, Skaði it is. Ski-goddess right?

                • Fred Magyar says:

                  Hey, I’ve always been willing to convert to the best deity whenever convenient! Odin and Skaði probably work better in Ice Ages than Buddha…

    • George Kaplan says:

      For the last 6 days global sea ice has been at lowest recorded levels:

      There used to be an argument put forward that Antarctic sea ice was increasing and therefore warming couldn’t be happening, even though there explanations put forward for the increase in coverage Ie.g. mostly different wind patterns and possibly increased fresh water at the surface (from snow, rain or melting) which has a higher freezing point than seawater. But it looks like that has to be shelved, at least for this year.

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