Friday, October 18, 2019


Energy Supply System Requirements

In a few posts I’ve briefly touched upon the three basic requirements (as I see them) for any energy supply system which sustains a society, state, empire, or civilization, but I have always felt the need to describe it in a bit more detail and in a more formal manner. Such is the purpose of this post. The three requirements are:

1. The system must be self-sustaining. That is, it must pay its own day-to-day running costs.

2. The system must be self-replicating. That is, it must provide the energy for building (and rebuilding/replacing) its own physical infrastructure. These costs are capital expenditures, as opposed to running costs.

3. After satisfying requirements #1 and #2, the system must still have surplus energy with which to power the socioeconomic system.

Corollary to #3: The amount of surplus energy supplied to society determines what kind of society/civilization is possible. For example, civilizations based on wood and charcoal will be totally different from, and primitive in comparison with, those based on denser forms of energy such as fossil fuels.

This helps explain why industrial civilization is tanking. Not all fossil fuels are created equal, and we are steadily moving from higher-quality, easy-to-extract fossil fuels to lower-quality, hard-to-extract fossil fuels. This transition gradually decreases surplus energy (#3) because there is progressively less surplus energy left after covering the costs in #1 and #2. The situation gets increasingly desperate, as illustrated by, for example, shale oil, which is not even economically viable. Another example would be biofuels, which — because of their low EROI values — cannot satisfy even requirement #1. In other words, if biofuels produced in the first cycle were used to power the machinery, trucks, and biofuel production facilities in the second cycle, the biofuels would run out during the production process, leaving no energy for requirements #2 and #3.

This also casts a dark cloud over renewables like wind and solar. Intermittency, variability, and the need for storage, overbuilding, and vast tracts of land, as well as other problems, lead me to believe that they cannot satisfy the three requirements, or at least that they cannot supply enough surplus energy to maintain civilization at this level. And if civilization cannot be maintained at this level, that is bad news for renewables because their infrastructure is built by the industrial system.

Another factor is the key difference between fossil fuels and renewables. FFs are actually biofuels created by natural forces. Nature produced the organic materials which served as the feedstock for FFs, gathered them up in colossal quantities, put them in gigantic pressure cookers, and let them stew for millennia. When humans appeared on the Earth, they were already finished. All we have to do is extract them from their underground containers and perform the final processing. Because our energy input is relatively small, the FF energy supply system has yielded a fabulously huge amount of surplus energy. And that is the prodigious power that built our globe-straddling industrial civilization.

On the other hand, to make biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel we must do all that work ourselves. Nature’s only input is sunlight (in the case of FFs, geological forces did the rest), so we have to produce and harvest the feedstock ourselves. As such, our energy inputs are so large that there is much less surplus energy, and in some cases none at all! As I have conceived it, therefore, biofuels are a complete waste of the FF energy used to satisfy requirements #2 and #3. In terms of this energy system, the sensible thing to do is directly use the FFs, and forget about biofuels. The real test of any energy source or combination of sources is not its EROI, but whether it can satisfy the three requirements given above. In other words, it either pulls its own weight (requirements #1 and #2) and supplies surplus energy to society (requirement #3), or it’s simply not an energy source. Many people will say that technological improvements will be made, and they are likely correct. But no matter what improvements are made, they will not cause nature to magically do most of the work for us, as it did with FFs; we still need to supply the inputs ourselves, which means that renewables can never match FFs with regard to requirement #3, i.e., in supplying society with such a large amount of surplus energy.

Many people insist that we can completely stop using fossil fuels, and power civilization as we know it on renewables alone. Think about that for a minute. Renewable-energy hardware is currently made with FFs, but we are supposedly going to operate, build, and replace all those solar and wind farms, hydroelectric dams, and other energy-producing facilities and equipment with their energy alone, and still have plenty of energy left over to live the high life. I propose that if and when we actually try to do this, we shall find that even if all three requirements are met (which I strongly doubt), the amount of surplus energy will not be big enough to maintain what we have already built. In light of the corollary to #3, that is a very serious problem. It means a long downhill slide to a much simpler lifestyle. As Richard Heinberg would say, the party’s over.

Finally, there are several peripheral items I would like to briefly touch upon.

1. I have frequently mentioned “net energy decline.” Net energy is simply a system’s “energy take-home pay” after paying the system’s energy costs. Those costs are requirements #1 and #2. And the “take-home” portion is the surplus energy left to run the economy.

2. Governments and military forces all know that FFs, not renewables, will power the victors. Thus the focus on controlling major oil fields.

3. We often hear that new technologies are going to bless us with new sources of energy, i.e., technology begets energy. I propose that it is actually the other way around. In other words, energy begets technology. Although I concede that technology does aid in obtaining more energy or new sources of energy, it’s important to realize that scientific discovery and technological advances are very highly dependent on the amount of energy we can lavish on research and development. I leave it to readers to imagine how different the world would be if humanity had never gotten beyond the photosynthetic ceiling, and we were still limited to biomass for energy.

4. Hydrogen is not an energy source!

Thursday, October 17, 2019


News Links, October 18, 2019

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards/global cooling/deflationary collapse ##
'Awfully high' risks of a global recession in the next 12-18 months, Moody's chief economist says
Apartheid in the global governance system
In my research I have argued that rising global inequality is driven in large part by power imbalances in the global economy, in that rich countries have disproportionate influence when it comes to setting the rules of international trade and finance.

## Airline death spiral ##
Airlines slam proposals to ban air mile programs and tax frequent flyers

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Pro-democracy lawmakers heckle Hong Kong leader, disrupting her annual policy speech
Ironically, the true purpose of US sanctions and intervention is to seize control of Venezuela's oil. Ultimately, who will come out on top? -- RF
Electric Vehicle Adoption Overshadowed By SUV Boom
There are now 200 million SUVs on the roads globally, up from 35 million in 2010, according to data the International Energy Agency (IEA). In fact, 60 percent of the increase of the global vehicle fleet since 2010 came from SUVs.
The lesson here is that no one country can control the entire world. And that's a good thing. -- RF
Birol needs to have his head examined. -- RF
Better batteries and more charging stations will excite many people, but these are of relatively little importance. What really matters is the energy sources used for charging. -- RF
Nearly a million children could lose their automatic eligibility for free school lunches under a Trump administration proposal that would reduce the number of people who get food stamps.
Study: 95 percent of baby food contains traces of toxic metals

## Environment/health ##
Trump administration proposes increasing logging in Tongass National Forest

Note: It was not a nuclear propulsion system that was being tested. -- RF

• War on Julian Assange

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
Ecomodernism is just looking at the failing industrial system through green-colored glasses. -- RF
The Age of Radical Evil (Chris Hedges)
They are planning for earthquakes, but there is a far greater (virtually 100%) probability of financial collapse, triggering the collapse of regional economies, societies, and of course industrial civilization itself. Most people will never get any help at all. -- RF

## Japan ##
Typhoon Hagibis rises to 73; 14 unaccounted for in Japan
IOC wants to move Tokyo Olympic marathons, walking races to Sapporo
Amid concern about the expected searing heat in Tokyo, the IOC wants to move the 2020 Olympic marathons 800 kilometers north to find cooler and safer race conditions.
But the need to create more consumers and tax donkeys shouldn't be the reason for helping children in poverty. -- RF
Sham is smashed in the head with hammers and spanners by at least four assailants who then flee in a car
A recent Gallup poll found that while 80% of Americans live in urban areas, only 12% said they want to live there. Asked where they would live if they had their choice, the top response was a rural area.
IRS: Sorry, but It's Just Easier and Cheaper to Audit the Poor
Congress asked the IRS to report on why it audits the poor more than the affluent. Its response is that it doesn't have enough money and people to audit the wealthy properly. So it's not going to.
US State Department says the move is an effort to get Beijing to relax restrictions on American diplomats in China
America 2020 Through 2040...The Era Of The 80+ Year-Old
So, millennials are not going to solve the demographics problem, after all. And net energy decline ensures that fertility rates around the world will continue to be pressured. -- RF

And finally...

Tuesday, October 15, 2019


News Links, October 16, 2019

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards/global cooling/deflationary collapse ##
IMF Forecasts "Synchronized Global Slowdown" - Weakest Growth 'Since Lehman'
IMF deaf to suffering it causes across the planet
US economy being hit harder by the trade war than China, says influential Asian financier
Singapore's economy dodges technical recession after growing 0.6% in the third quarter
0.6%! Keep watching for that inevitable population exodus. -- RF

## War on cash/cashless society/cryptocurrencies ##
Crypto Nightmare: 97% Of South Korean Exchanges Are At Risk Of Going Bankrupt

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
Despite rising awareness of critical US sealift shortfalls, solutions are elusive
"One of the most expensive warships ever built."
Russia says it will prevent a clash between the Syrian government and Turkey
Russia on Tuesday said its troops were now patrolling an area separating the forces of the Syrian government and Turkey, a development that signals how Moscow is taking the role of key power-broker in the conflict there following the United States' withdrawal.
Russia says 'unacceptable' Turkish incursion into Syria must be temporary
Russia called Turkey's military incursion into northeast Syria "unacceptable" and said on Tuesday the operation had to be limited in time and scale, a rare broadside that suggests Moscow's patience with Ankara is wearing thin.

## Migrants/refugees ##
Hundreds of migrants corralled at detention center in Mexico

## Energy/resources ##
ProPetro Holding Corp this month cut about 150 workers, people familiar with the matter said on Monday, the latest sign of growing trouble in the oilfield services sector as U.S. shale producers reduce drilling.

## Intelligence/security/internet/cyberwar ##
What 'deepfakes' are and how they may be dangerous
New German rules leave 5G telecoms door open to Huawei
Germany has finalised rules for the build-out of 5G mobile networks that, in a snub to the United States, will not exclude China's Huawei Technologies.
China's big brother is watching your every move
State-backed Hikvision is now the largest surveillance company in the world with links to Xinjiang's detention camps
Twitter Paves Way For Trump Ban With New Content Rules For World Leaders

## Propaganda/censorship/fake news/alternative facts ##
Media Yells "Cut!" When Trump Forgets His Lines and Says Something Anti-War
When it comes to substantive issues that the elite all agree on (such as foreign policy), there is little to no pushback against the president, excepting when he utters statements that are read as critical of war and militarism.
WikiScanner: CIA, FBI computers used for Wikipedia edits

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
The Ultimate Heresy: Technology Can't Fix What's Broken
Technology can't fix what's broken, because what's broken is our entire system.
A must-read for those who are still members of the Church of Technology. -- RF
I'm on record as predicting that billions of innocent people will die before the dust settles. But I think that failure of the financial system is the most likely trigger, and that other factors will quickly add to the collapse and chaos. -- RF

More than 200 rivers overflowed and inundated the typhoon-hit areas, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation.
Don't kid yourself. Big cities in all countries are death traps. -- RF
Of course other countries are working on their own, similar systems. Critics can take heart because once power grids start to fail, such systems will become inoperable. -- RF
Families in England hit by 70% cut in school uniform grant
Cash-strapped councils stop financial support for clothing, pushing more parents into debt
Teachers living in sheds, cars and using food banks as demand for grants rises, charity warns
Number of applications for housing support increases by 67 per cent in two years
Ban air miles and stop frequent flyers to combat climate change, report urges
Travellers should be hit by 'escalating air miles levy' to put them off flying too much
But as detailed here and here, Sacoolas is not a diplomat. -- RF

Sunday, October 13, 2019


News Links, October 14, 2019

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards/global cooling/deflationary collapse ##
Just Weeks After the Collapse of Thomas Cook, Spain Launches First Bailout of its Huge Tourism Industry
Global Air Freight Decline Now Worst Since 2008 Financial Crisis
Mexican motor city 'getting desperate' as GM's U.S. strike takes heavy toll

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
Pompeo Can't Blame Iran For Attacking Itself
Houthis Vow Retaliation As Saudi Naval Blockade Sparks Fresh Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen
Saudi Arabia has stepped up its seizure and detention of ships carrying food and fuel into Yemen, sparking shortages that experts warn will push the country's civilians into even more dire straits.
Saudis ask Russia to probe oilfield attack
Putin agrees to investigate attack on oilfield facilities, but said he would not take sides in any disputes
Syrian Kurds, Damascus Reach Deal in Russia-Backed Talks
Kurds will hand key cities to Syrian Army to defend
• War on Venezuela
Real life and resistance in Venezuela – Ben Norton reports on effects of US blockade
Ben Norton speaks about his reporting in Venezuela, where he investigated how bipartisan US sanctions and Trump's embargo are making lives hell for civilians.
• War on Cuba

## Energy/resources ##
California power lines spark wildfires and prompt blackouts. Why not just bury them?
You get one guess. -- RF
Ultimately, technology can't beat geology. -- RF
I repeat: Ethanol is just a gimmick for shoving piles of money around. -- RF

This week, a CNN insider will blow the whistle and through Project Veritas will release dozens of recordings made of officials at the highest levels of CNN, revealing a political agenda, bias and misconduct hidden from public view.
The "Safe Drivers Act" Is A Real-Time National Driver Surveillance Program
A new Senate bill would create a real-time national driver surveillance program that would allow law enforcement to know anything and everything about a driver at the click of a button.
• War on Julian Assange

## Propaganda/censorship/fake news/alternative facts ##
Fake News in Trump's America

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
A blog post which provides a revealing glimpse of industrial civilization's decline. -- RF
San Francisco, Hostage to the Homeless

## Japan ##
19 dead, 16 missing, over 100 injured after typhoon rips through Japan
Behind Hong Kong's black terror (Pepe Escobar)
Deciphering who's behind the violence leads to a long list of possibilities

## UK ##
$35 Billion: UK Faces Huge Loss From Electric Vehicle Adoption
London Has A Massive Cocaine Addiction
A newly released analysis of waste water in European cities by King's College London has revealed the massive and unmatched scale of London's cocaine addiction.

## US ##
The grim reality of millennials who rely on their parents for money
Despite a decade-long expansion and record-low unemployment, studies suggest that between 60% and 70% of 18- to 34-year-olds rely on their parents for financial assistance.
Will Social Security Be There for You? Status of the Social Security Trust Fund in Fiscal 2019
"Don't rely on Social Security": Inflation adjustments are punitively low, and benefits become more inadequate as you age.

Friday, October 11, 2019


News Links, October 12, 2019

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards/global cooling/deflationary collapse ##
Infographic: The Countries Facing The Greatest Skill Shortages
Defaults in European Retailers and US Energy on the rise
WeWork Could Run Out Of Cash By Next Month, Seeks Immediate Bailout
Free money: The Hidden Costs of a Universal Basic Income

## Cut, baby, cut! ##
Amazon's delivery contractors announce upward of 2,000 layoffs even as the mega-retailer's logistics demand balloons

## War on cash/cashless society/cryptocurrencies ##
Facebook's libra cryptocurrency coalition is falling apart as eBay, Visa, Mastercard and Stripe jump ship
Digital assets subject to money-laundering, disclosure laws: U.S. regulators

## Airline death spiral ##
FAA failed to properly review 737 MAX jet anti-stall system: JATR findings
An international panel of air safety regulators on Friday harshly criticized the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) review of a safety system on Boeing Co's (BA.N) 737 MAX jet that was later tied to two crashes that killed 346 people.
FAA must ramp up staffing to oversee airplane certification after 737 MAX: panel

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
Iran says oil tanker struck by rockets off Saudi Arabia
Vietnam's dilemma with Chinese infrastructure investment: should it choose growth or security?
F-15s, air defense systems and thousands of U.S. troops heading to Saudi Arabia
Trump Brings Troops Back Home To Saudi Arabia (MoA)
Trump administration clears the way for sanctions on Turkey: 'We can shut down the Turkish economy'

## Migrants/refugees ##
U.S. migrant policy sends thousands of children, including babies, back to Mexico

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Protesters burn MAGA hats, police use pepper spray in tense hours after Donald Trump rally in Minneapolis
Migrant protesters occupy U.S.-Mexico border bridge, crossing closed
Cattle prods and welfare cuts: mounting threats to Extinction Rebellion show demands are being heard, but ignored (Australia)
Would you stand up to an oppressive regime or would you conform? Here's the science
Extinction Rebellion protesters call on BBC to 'tell climate truth'
More Paris roads blocked by climate change protests
Indigenous-Led Protests Rock Ecuador Decrying IMF Deal and Demanding Moreno's Resignation
Labeled "savages" in times past, today the mobilizing efforts of the indigenous have been associated with the work of "terrorist groups" and "criminal groups" by President Moreno.

## Energy/resources ##
Ecuador Declares Force Majeure On All Oil Operations As Protests Escalate
A worldwide material shortage is delaying cassette production
Coal demand to plunge to 42-year low

## Got food? ##
Fall blizzard hits Great Plains before harvest, burying crops
With more than a foot of snow blanketing parts of the parts of North and South Dakota and surrounding states, farmers are predicted to lose much of their soy and corn harvests.
The 24 Highest Calorie Vegetables for Your Survival Garden

## Environment/health ##
Study: Heat waves expected to be bigger, affect more people
Record-shattering Great Lakes water levels could be even higher in 2020
CDC says almost all vaping illness patients end up hospitalized
Wind-driven Los Angeles wildfire leaves one dead, forces 100,000 to flee

## Intelligence/security/internet/cyberwar ##
Spanish court investigates firm for spying on Assange for the US

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
Bimillenary of the death of Germanicus: The Defeat of the Roman Deep State
Zimbabwe's capital runs dry as taps cut off for 2M people

## Japan ##
Japanese firms see 'Abenomics' sputtering, tax hike hurting economy: poll

## China ##
Carmageddon for General Motors in China: Q3 Sales Collapse 30% from 2 Years Ago

## UK ##
Major Drugs Shortage in United Kingdom
There is a shortage of basic medication, according to a report, including painkillers, contraceptives and diabetes tablets, in the United Kingdom, reducing the ease of access to every major type of prescription.
Climate-change protesters block BBC headquarters in London
Police treat stabbings at UK shopping mall as terrorism incident

## US ##
Rising old used car prices help push poor Americans over the edge
For America's working poor, an often essential ingredient for getting and keeping a job – having a car – has rarely been more costly, and millions of people are finding it impossible to keep up with payments despite prolonged economic growth and low unemployment.
High Taxes Are Top Reason Illinoisans Want To Leave State
U.S. company supplying tear gas to Hong Kong police faces mounting criticism

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