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Gratuitous self-promotion!

Gratuitous self-promotion!

Here is a pic of ecologist and author Richard Heinberg signing copies of his most recent book: Power. On the bookshelf behind him you can find a copy of my novel, Olduvai, if you zoom in two books to the right of Dmitry Orlov’s The Five Stages of Collapse and next to The Moron’s Guide to Global Collapse.

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXVIII

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Today’s very brief ‘contemplation’ is a comment I penned on an article that discusses the limits to growth we have probably surpassed, Kuber-Ross’s stages of grief (especially denial and bargaining) that the world seems to be experiencing in the wake of increasing awareness of our existential dilemmas/predicaments, and a call for cooperation amongst the world’s people to address our plight.

I have repeatedly experienced the denial and anger that tends to arise when one challenges another’s personal beliefs. I should know better than to present countervailing evidence/narratives, especially given the defensive psychological mechanisms that arise to preserve such beliefs. We tend to look for confirmation of our strongly-held views by surrounding ourselves with like-minded voices, not disruptive narratives that can lead to cognitive dissonance. Such stories are denigrated and attacked (as the author of the article points out for the Limits to Growth authors).

I do believe, however, that the acceptance of our limits in many aspects leads to a conclusion that degrowth needs to be not only considered and discussed, but widely pursued if humanity is to have any hope of at least some of us transitioning through the self-made bottleneck that is directly ahead of us. Pursing the ‘wrong’ path will only make our predicament far, far more challenging and greatly reduce any opportunities for at least some of humanity to survive.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXVII

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXVII

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Discussing ‘renewable’ energy and its shortcomings with those who hold on to the belief that they offer us a ‘solution’ to the predicaments humanity faces is always ‘challenging’. Today’s contemplation is based on a recent dialogue I have had with a few people who seek to hold on to the belief that we can completely abandon fossil fuels and simply shift support for society’s complexities over to ‘renewables, and my response to someone who complimented my viewpoint (an unusual occurrence on the pages of the online media site (The Tyee) I frequent, whose writers/editors/commenters mostly support ‘renewables’ and the promises the proponents of them make). The story is not so straightforward and most don’t want to hear that. You can check out the conversation here.

Thank you. The root cause of our problem appears to be ecological overshoot brought on, primarily, by our exploitation of a one-time energy cache (fossil fuels) that has helped to ‘power’ amazing technological tools and processes that, in turn, have allowed us to exploit the planet and its resources substantially. This has led to a number of positive feedback loops, particularly exponential increases in population, waste (including greenhouse gases), and the speed at which we use these finite resources.

The crowd that insists ‘renewable’ energy (and it’s not truly ‘renewable’ given its dependency on finite resources, and certainly not ‘green/clean’ based on the processes necessary to produce them) can ‘sustain’ our energy-intensive complexities tend to be willfully ignorant of their negative consequences and deficiencies. In fact, my guess is that many have little experience with or knowledge of them (see Alice Friedemann’s work at Energy Skeptic and especially her most recent Springer Energy Series publication, Life After Fossil Fuels) and are grasping for solutions to our predicaments.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Craig Murray: The Decline of Western Power

Craig Murray: The Decline of Western Power

The really interesting thing about the G7 summit is that it wasn’t interesting. Nobody expected it to change the world, and it won’t.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other leaders of the G7 watch the Red Arrows fly over in Carbis Bay, June 12. (Simon Dawson, No 10 Downing Street, Flickr)

Boris Johnson sees himself as the heritor of a world bestriding Imperial mantle, but in truth he cannot bestride the Irish Sea. The overshadowing of last month’s G7 summit by the U.K. prime minister’s peculiar concern that Irish sausages should not be eaten by those in Northern Ireland who do not believe in evolution, was a fascinating examplar of British impotence as he failed to persuade anybody else to support him. It looks like Danish bacon for the shops of Belfast and Derry will have to be imported through Dun Laoghaire and not through Larne. Ho hum.

The really interesting thing about the G7 summit is that it wasn’t interesting. Nobody expected it to change the world, and it won’t. John Pilger pointed out the key fact. Twenty years ago, the G7 constituted two thirds of the world economy. Now they constitute one third. They don’t even represent most of the world’s billionaires any longer, though those billionaires they do represent — and indeed some of the billionaires they don’t represent — were naturally pulling the strings of these rather sluggish puppets.

It used to be that any important sporting event in any developing country would feature hoardings for western multinationals, such as Pepsi Cola and Nestle baby milk. Nowadays I am watching the Euros football pitches surrounded by electronic hoardings in Chinese. The thing about power is this; it shifts with time.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Commodities, Supply-Chains and Structural Changes in Demand

  • Talk of a new commodity super-cycle may be premature
  • Once GDP growth returns to trend, commodity demand will moderate
  • Fiscal and monetary relief are key to maintaining growth and demand
  • Structural changes in energy demand will prove more persistent

As the spectre of inflation begins to haunt economists, many market commentators have started to focus on commodity prices in an attempt to predict the likely direction of the general price level for goods and services. This indexing of the most heterogeneous asset class has always struck me as destined to disappoint. Commodity prices change in response to, often, small variation in supply or demand and the price of some commodities varies enormously from one geographic location to another. Occasionally the majority of commodities rise in tandem but more frequently they dance to their own peculiar tunes.

Commodity analysts tend to focus on Energy and Industrial Metals foremost; Agricultural Commodities, which are more diverse by nature are often left as a footnote. Occasionally, however, a demand-side event occurs which causes nearly all sectors to rise. The Covid-19 event was just such a shock, disrupting global supply-chains and consumer demand patterns simultaneously.

The chart below shows the CRB Index since 1995: –

Source: CRB, Yardeni

This chart looks very different to the energy heavy GSCI Index, which is weighted on the basis of liquidity and by the respective world production quantities of its underlying components: –

Source: S&P GSCI, Trading Economics

The small rebound on the chart above is not that insignificant, however, it equates to a 55% rise since the lows on 2020. The fact that prices collapsed, as the pandemic broke, and subsequently soared, as vaccines allowed economies to reopen, is hardly surprising. Economic cycles wield a powerful influence over commodity prices; short-term, inelastic, supply, confronted by an unexpected jump in demand, invariably precipitates sharp price increases.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Cooling effect of clouds ‘underestimated’ by climate models, says new study

Cooling effect of clouds ‘underestimated’ by climate models, says new study
 
*     *     *

Clouds could have a greater cooling effect on the planet than climate models currently suggest, according to new research.

The paper, published in Nature Climate Change, aims to correct a “long-standing” and “unaddressed” problem in climate modelling – namely, that existing models simulate too much rainfall from clouds and, therefore, underestimate their lifespan and cooling effect.

The authors have updated an existing climate model with a more realistic simulation of rainfall from “warm” clouds – those that contain water only, rather than a combination of water and ice. They find that this update makes the “cloud-lifetime feedback” – a process in which warmer temperatures increase the lifespan of clouds – almost three times bigger.

The authors note that the newest generation of global climate models – the sixth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) – predicts faster future warming than its predecessors. This is largely because the new models simulate a smaller cooling effect from clouds.

However, the lead author of the study tells Carbon Brief that fixing the “problem” in rainfall simulations “reduces the amount of warming predicted by the model, by about the same amount as the warming increase between CMIP5 and CMIP6”.

Due to this, he says that the key takeaway from the study is to “take the extra warming in CMIP6 with a grain of salt until some of the other known cloud problems are also fixed in the models”.

Cooling clouds

The impact of clouds on global temperature is a complex area of research that scientists have been working on for decades.

In a Carbon Brief guest post published in 2018, Prof Ellie Highwood – professor of climate physics in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading – explains how clouds can affect global temperatures:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XIX

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XIX

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Andrew Nikiforuk is an author and contributing editor of the online media site The Tyee. He has been writing about the oil and gas industry for close to 20 years. In his most recent article he writes about the lies being told by the Canadian government regarding its attempts to reduce carbon emissions. The Canadian government is certainly not alone in its misinformation (propaganda?) and one of the issues I believe is contributing to the lies is a (purposeful?) misidentification of our planet’s fundamental existential dilemma. Below is my comment on Andrew’s excellent discussion.

Thank you, Andrew. You’ve laid out the case for some very, very difficult decisions/choices/discussions that lay ahead of us.

I’m not convinced we will make what I consider to be the correct choices or even engage in some meaningful and productive dialogue since the changes that I believe are needed (degrowth) would be viewed as exceedingly painful to many as it challenges not only some core beliefs but what could be considered rights/entitlements/expectations regarding living standards (and it doesn’t help that we are genetically predisposed to avoid pain and seek pleasure). The brakes that need to be applied to some social practices/policies (perhaps most? all?) would also be challenged by some because I would contend the fundamental dilemma we are having to address is not necessarily carbon emissions, which I would argue is one of the consequences of the underlying issue, which is ecological overshoot.

The finite, one-time cache of easy-to-retrieve and cheap-to-access energy provided by fossil fuels has ‘fuelled’ an explosion in human numbers and sociopolitical/cultural/economic complexities unlike any other time in human pre/history. With this energy resource at our disposal we have constructed a complex, global, and industrialised world with technological wonders that would certainly appear magical to past generations.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh X

Monte Alban, Mexico (1988) Photo by author

Circumstances have kept me sidetracked from writing for a few months. As life has settled a bit, although the spring weather keeps me busy working in the food garden, I felt it time to post again. Here is a comment I wrote this morning in the Tyee in response to an article on corporate bailouts and a call to give government more power.

Almost all of us live within a narrative matrix that we exist in a fair and transparent world where the ruling class exists to serve the people of a particular territory, that government and its efforts/energies are directed primarily towards benefitting the citizens it is supposed to represent, and that the resources of the nation will be distributed in a way that is equitable and just. We are taught such a world exists through our government education systems and repeatedly told this via our corporate media. If glitches in the matrix occur, it’s because of some particular individual’s defect but never a systemic problem.

A look through pre/history and a gentle scratch at the surface of this general perspective, however, will show that this view is all bullshit. The ruling class exists to benefit itself, and this is always done at the expense of its citizens. They have created an elaborate narrative to market themselves as ‘representatives’ of the people in an ongoing and expansive attempt to legitimise their rule and power. And the vast majority of people believe the stories (primarily to reduce the cognitive dissonance that is created when the notion of living within a massive, propagandised world where one has little true agency in sociopolitical and socioeconomic matters collides with the sociocultural myths of ‘representative’ government and citizen participation).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Tsunami Warning

Tsunami Warning

Tsunami Warning


A tsunami is a wall of water that wipes out everything in its path, typically caused by earthquakes. But first, the water actually disappears from the usual shoreline, leaving land where there should be sea.

A tsunami is a wall of water that wipes out everything in its path, typically caused by earthquakes. But first, the water actually disappears from the usual shoreline, leaving land where there should be sea.

If you are on the shore and see that happen, the correct response is to run for high ground. Tragically, though, people often rush toward this new and unusual sight. It’s hard to blame them; we humans are drawn to the unknown. This impulse explains much of our progress, but it has costs, too.

Right now, the stock market is in the land-where-there-should-be-sea phase. What we don’t know is when the wave is coming. Maybe there’s time to venture out and see what treasure was hidden beneath the waves… or maybe not. Prudence would suggest that we go searching for treasure on higher ground.

This is an age-old investor conundrum. How do you balance risk and reward? You have clues, but you can’t be certain of what is coming, or when it will arrive, or what it will look like. You know you need positive returns, but you also need to avoid major losses. The answers are never easy. You take your chances, no matter what you do. Today we’ll see what some of my favorite market wizards see on the horizon.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

U.S. Oil Bankruptcies Shoot Up In Q1 2021

U.S. Oil Bankruptcies Shoot Up In Q1 2021

The number of North American producers that filed for bankruptcy protection in the first quarter of 2021 reached the highest number for a first quarter since 2016, yet the wave of bankruptcies has significantly slowed since the peaks in the second and third quarter of 2020, law firm Haynes and Boone said in its latest tally to March 31.

The Oil Patch Bankruptcy Monitor showed that eight producers filed for bankruptcy this past quarter, which was the highest Q1 total since 2016 when 17 oil producers in North America sought protection from creditors.

Texas accounted for 50 percent of the total producer filings in the first quarter of 2021, with four in total, Haynes and Boone said.

The law firm noted that there were no producers with billion-dollar bankruptcies in Q2 2021, which had not happened since the third quarter of 2018.

The total debt for producers that filed in the first quarter was just over $1.8 billion—the second-lowest total for a Q1 after $1.6 billion in Q1 2019, according to Haynes and Boone.

Even though the number of first-quarter 2021 bankruptcies was the highest for a Q1 since 2016, it showed the trend of slowing filings after 18 oil and gas producers filed in the second quarter of 2020 and another 17 in the third quarter, the two quarters in which the oil price crash and the crisis were most severely felt by indebted producers.

Apart from eight producers, the first quarter of 2021 also claimed five oilfield services companies that filed for bankruptcy, Haynes and Boone data showed. This number is the third-lowest Q1 total since 2015, and much lower than 27 filings in Q3 2020 and another 17 filings from oilfield services companies in Q4 2020.

The aggregate debt for oilfield services companies that filed in Q1 2021 was over $7.2 billion—the third-highest Q1 total since 2015, but one company, Seadrill Limited, accounted for 99.8 percent of the aggregate debt for the quarter, Haynes and Boone said.

The Real Reasons Why Millions Of Americans Will Defy Covid Mandates And Vaccines

The Real Reasons Why Millions Of Americans Will Defy Covid Mandates And Vaccines

I suspect a large portion of the public is at least partially aware when they are being pushed or lured into a specific way of thinking. We have certainly had enough experience with institutions trying to manage our thoughts over the years.  Governments and mainstream media outlets in particular have made the manufacture of public consent their top priority. This is what they spend most of their time, money and energy on. All other issues are secondary.

The media does not objectively report facts and evidence, it spins information to plant an engineered narrative in the minds of its viewers. But the public is not as stupid as they seem to think. This is probably why trust in the media has plunged by 46% in the past ten years, hitting an all time low this year of 27%.

Except for pre-election season spikes, mainstream outlets from CNN to Fox to CBS to MSNBC are facing dismal audience numbers, with only around 2 million to 3 million prime time viewers. There are numerous YouTube commentators with bigger audiences than this. And, if you sift through the debris of MSM videos on YouTube, you’ll find low hits and a majority of people that are visiting their channels just to make fun of them.

The MSM is now scrambling to explain their crumbling empire, as well as debating on ways to save it from oblivion. The power of the “Fourth Estate” is a facade, an illusion given form by smoke and mirrors. Bottom line: Nobody (except perhaps extreme leftists) likes the corporate media or activist journalists and propagandists.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Olduvai: Excerpt read by author, Steve Bull

Olduvai: Excerpt read by author, Steve Bull

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh II

Image for post
Monte Alban, Mexico (1988) Photo by author.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh

As I approach my 7th decade on this planet, I have reached the conclusion that we all interpret the world through mythical narratives; some of our own creation, many (most?) others ‘imposed’ upon us. The ruling class of society conditions us in numerous ways to accept stories that, for the most part, support and prolong their position of power and control.

From hereditary chieftains/monarchs to ‘democratic’ leadership, the ‘elite’ of society maintain a hold over the ‘tribe’ so as to ensure their revenue streams and wealth (some would argue this is a parasitic arrangement since this class returns little in the way of productive value to the system). They use the various tools at their disposal (e.g., education system, media, etc.) to inculcate/predispose us to accepting this arrangement and continuing to control and expand the wealth-generating/extraction systems that arise from everyday human economic interactions.

Power and wealth is concentrated significantly at the top of the pyramid; yet we are constantly exposed to narratives that we not only have agency, but that the ‘elite’ put our needs at the forefront of their policies and decision-making. I strongly believe these are false and propagated to influence/manipulate our thinking and beliefs.

Just like our financial institutions (especially the big banks) who knowingly engage in criminal activity and then receive raps on the wrist with minimal fines when caught (making their brazen thievery well worth it), the ruling class is more than willing to break ‘rules/laws’ (in fact, I would argue they are constantly doing so) because the ‘price’ for doing so is negligible (with the occasional sacrifice made to appease the masses).

I don’t believe there is a ‘solution’ to any of this (unlike most who do because, you know, hope–and reduction of cognitive dissonance) aside from complete sociopolitical collapse–which I would argue will eventually happen as it has for every complex society that has preceded ours. My response to this has been to accept it, and try and remove myself from the Matrix as much as is possible and prepare accordingly.

The world is not as we have been conditioned to believe by the narrative managers who weave the various storylines (read Edward Bernays book Propaganda for interesting insight on this). Awareness of this is a first step towards a better understanding of how messed up this world truly is and, possibly, doing something for your family/community to make it more resilient as the system inevitably declines/collapses.

The COVID-19 “Lockdowns” Are What Twenty-First-Century Mob Rule Looks Like

The COVID-19 “Lockdowns” Are What Twenty-First-Century Mob Rule Looks Like

mob

As of April 6, forty-one states have statewide “stay-at-home” decrees in place. These orders vary widely from place to place. In some states, there are long lists of exempted industries including marijuana dispensaries, liquor stores, hardware stores, and of course, grocery stores. In some states with these edicts, public lands, state parks, and beaches remain open. In some states, city parks are more crowded than ever as local residents, with little else to do, attempt to recreate. In other places—such as California—one can be arrested for paddleboarding all alone in the ocean.

Yet in all of these places, the current regime of rule by decree will have—and already has had—a devastating effect on many small and medium-sized businesses and their employees. As governments have created new arbitrary definitions of what constitutes an “essential” business, some businesses find themselves forced to close. Employees have lost these jobs. The owners of these enterprises will likely lose far more as debts mount and business investments are destroyed. As unemployment and poverty increase, the usual pathologies will arise as well: suicides, child abuse, and stress-induced death.

Yet the politicians—mostly state governors, mayors, and unelected bureaucrats—remain popular. In New York State, where the lockdown orders are among the most draconian in the nation, it is now claimed that 87 percent of those polled approve of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the situation. As Donald Trump’s administration has recommended ever harsher government limits on the freedom of Americans, his poll numbers have only improved. 

Meanwhile, among critics there appears to be a misconception of these lockdowns (which are very often only partially imposed or enforced) as being imposed over the howls of the local population, which is being silenced and cowed by jackbooted local police.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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