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World’s biggest economies pumping billions into fossil fuels in poor nations

G20 countries spent $142bn in three years to expand operations despite a G7 pledge to stop doing so, study finds

The world’s biggest economies have continued to finance the expansion of fossil fuels in poor countries to the tune of billions of dollars, despite their commitments on the climate.

The G20 group of developed and developing economies, and the multilateral development banks they fund, put $142bn (£112bn) into fossil fuel developments overseas from 2020 to 2022, according to estimates compiled by the campaigning groups Oil Change International (OCI) and Friends of the Earth US.

Canada, Japan and South Korea were the biggest sources of such finance in the three years studied, and gas received more funding than either coal or oil.

The G7 group of biggest economies, to which Japan and Canada belong, pledged in 2022 to halt overseas funding of fossil fuels. But while funding for coal has rapidly diminished, finance for oil and gas projects has continued at a strong pace.

Some of the money is going to other developed economies, including Australia, but much of it is to the developing world. However, richer middle income countries still receive more finance than the poorest.

The most recent G7 pledge, in the study, is to phase out all overseas fossil fuel funding by the end of 2022. The OCI study concentrates on the period from the beginning of the fiscal year of 2020-21 for each country, to the end of the fiscal year of 2022-23.

However, the researchers also found that Japan had continued to make new fossil fuel investments overseas in the past few weeks, up to mid-March 2024, exploiting loopholes in its promise to end fossil fuel funding.

The World Bank provided about $1.2bn a year to fossil fuels over the three-year period, of which about two-thirds went to gas projects.

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

The #1 Reason I Became A Doomer

The #1 Reason I Became A Doomer

We’re not doomed because of climate change, resource depletion, or biodiversity loss. We’re doomed because human nature made those things inevitable.

There are many reasons I became a doomer.

Climate change is accelerating and governments aren’t taking it seriously. The sixth mass extinction event is well underway and most people don’t care. Fossil fuels and other crucial resources are running out and most people don’t even know. Pollution in the form of microplastics and forever chemicals are rapidly accumulating in our bodies, lowering sperm counts and causing all sorts of health problems.

And all that is because of overshoot. We’ve already exceeded the carrying capacity of the planet, so it’s only a matter of time before the global population comes crashing down. But overshoot isn’t the main reason I became a doomer. In fact, I became a doomer about a year before I knew what overshoot means.

The main reason I became a doomer is because I realized that the challenge we’re facing is so monumentally large and complicated that humans are incapable of overcoming it.

This idea upsets some people. They say things like, “What about World War II? Look at how the U.S. mobilized the entire nation to help defeat the Axis powers.”

Yea, after they were attacked and only because they had a clear enemy. This time, we can’t simply declare fossil fuels the enemy and stop using them overnight. Doing that would cause civilization to collapse, anyway.

Besides, fossil fuels aren’t the only problem. As I’ve explained before, we would still be headed for collapse even if there were no climate change or pollution because we’re completely dependent on finite resources (forests, aquifers, fossil fuels, rare-earth minerals, etc.) that will mostly be gone in a matter of decades.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

The Delusions of Davos and Dubai – Part Three: Alternatives to Wind & Solar Energy

The Delusions of Davos and Dubai – Part Three: Alternatives to Wind & Solar Energy

If the delusional but dead serious demands coming out of the international climate crisis community are to be believed, and as documented in the earlier two segments of this report, achieving universal energy security in the world will require wind energy capacity to increase by a factor of 60, while solar capacity increases by a factor of 100. The mix between wind and solar can vary, of course, but the required overall increase is indisputable. As noted in Part One of this report, that would be a very best-case scenario, where extraordinary improvements in energy efficiency meant that total energy production worldwide would only have to increase to 1,000 exajoules per year, from an estimated 600 exajoules in 2022.

Finally, and as explained in Part Two, this is preposterous. Wind and solar energy cannot possibly increase in global capacity by a multiple of 50-100 times. It is utterly infeasible. As noted, “The uptick in mining, the land consumed, the expansion of transmission lines, the necessity for a staggering quantity of electricity storage assets to balance these intermittent sources, the vulnerability of wind and solar farms to weather events including deep freezes, tornadoes, and hail, and the stupefying task of doing it all over again every 20-30 years as the wind turbines, photovoltaic panels, and storage batteries reach the end of their useful lives—all of this suggests procuring 90+ percent of global energy from wind and solar energy is a fool’s errand.”

One may nonetheless argue that other forms of energy can supplement wind and solar in order to still fulfill the climate community’s goal to completely displace oil, natural gas, and coal. But what then, and in what proportions? Here are the alternatives:

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XLVIII–We Are Not Prepared For Shutting Down the Fossil Fuel Industry

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XLVIII

Monte Alban, Mexico (1988) Photo by author

We Are Not Prepared For Shutting Down the Fossil Fuel Industry

To be or not to be, that is the question…

Prince Hamlet’s well-known soliloquy in William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet is apropos to a question I have been pondering: should we shut down immediately the world’s fossil fuel industries, as a seemingly increasing number of individuals and groups are advocating, or not?

Why have I been thinking about this? Mostly because I would argue it is suicide for our global, industrialised society and its vast array of complexities that the overwhelming majority of humans have come to depend upon, especially if it is without well-considered alternatives to support the loss of such an immense energy source.

In fact, without the energy provided by fossil fuels there would be no ‘transition’ to a ‘cleaner’ world that these same cheerleaders of fossil fuel’s immediate death suggest is ‘just around the corner’ — certainly, not a smooth and non-chaotic one. Without fossil fuels our various complexities that sustain us would collapse in short order and a massive die-off would occur[1]. Of this I have little doubt[2].

As far as a post-carbon transition based upon well-considered alternatives, I’m not speaking of so-called ‘green/clean’ energy substitutes for our fossil fuel-powered world in order to continue keeping on keeping on with our high energy-reliant complexities in some idealistic seamless shift. There is far too much evidence that that narrative is a lie and is being pushed by those that stand to profit from it and by well-intentioned but misguided others who believe the propaganda that such a shift is feasible and must be pursued with all haste[3]. Alternative energy-harvesting and -producing technologies are so dependent upon the fossil fuel platform that they cannot be constructed or sustained without significant fossil fuel inputs — to say little of the continued and significant environmental/ecological destruction necessary in both the upstream and downstream processes needed in their construction, maintenance, and after-life disposal/reclamation, and the lack of actual physical resources to build out a replacement for fossil fuels.

I’m speaking of a concerted ‘degrowth’ agenda that may need to be extremely radical in its undertaking if we are to minimise the most negative impacts of our ecological overshoot and perhaps ensure more of us are to make it out the other side of the ecological bottleneck we have created for our species (and many others)[4]. I have my own ideas about what this should and should not look like.

The very first order of business needs to be a discontinuation of the pursuit of the infinite growth chalice. This includes population growth but especially refers to economic growth, particularly for the so-called ‘advanced’ economies that are responsible for the lion’s share of resource use and abuse[5]. Without this our fundamental predicament of ecological overshoot simply grows in severity, leading to a more monumental collapse.

Given that the ruling class in particular but certainly a sizable portion of the citizens of advanced economies benefit immensely from the status quo systems and their continuation, I’m doubtful in the extreme that they would willingly admit and contemplate such a shift. As I expounded upon in my last contemplation, our ‘leaders’ are not in this for the masses as they pretend to be; they are in this for power and/or wealth[6]. As such, we will continue to be exposed to narratives that growth is not only beneficial for everyone but necessary to counteract the obvious dilemmas we are experiencing (but are, in fact, directly caused by our growth). Don’t, whatever you do, believe your lying eyes as the reality of resource shortages bite; continue to believe in human ingenuity and our technological prowess. Ignore the machinations going on behind that curtain over there.

Frankly, there are some difficult if not impossible decisions to be made that will and do challenge virtually everything the vast majority of us hold as near and dear to our hearts and our perception of what it means to be human; especially for those that live in ‘advanced’ economies where the transition necessarily puts everything on the table for discussion as to whether it can or should be maintained. Everything.

Many if not most of the cherished ideals that have been developed during a period of monumental surplus energy due to fossil fuel’s energy density, transportability, relative ease of extraction, and quantities are likely to be lost as our energy contraction speeds up. It may be exceedingly difficult if not impossible to maintain our ‘humanity’ in the face of this. Black Swan events, which is what this is going to be for the vast majority of people, have by far the largest impact on societies when they occur[7].

One of my ‘hopes’ as it were as we stumble into an unknown and unknowable future is that the dangerous complexities we have created (e.g., nuclear power plants, biosafety labs, chemical production and storage facilities) are dismantled and their dangers safely ‘contained/neutralised’ before we lose the energy capacity and related resources necessary to do this. I see zero progress currently on this front; in fact, there are increased demands to do the exact opposite.

And then there’s the whole economic-energy nexus where our monetary/financial systems are predicated upon credit/debt growth that is for all intents and purposes a potential claim on future energy and related resource use and its exponential growth[8]. If that energy is not there (and it’s not in a finite world), the entire Ponzi-like structure of these human-contrived systems collapses completely; and some argue this has actually already started and has been ‘papered’ over by manipulations that include accounting shenanigans and narrative control.

It is the glaring impediments (and the growing denial of these[9]) to the dreams of a ‘sustainable’ and ‘green/clean’ transition that increasingly lead me to conclude that we are totally and completely fubar. There is no saving our complexities that support our current ways. Does this necessitate losing ‘hope’? Well, hope as I’ve come to realise is a wish for something to happen over which we really have zero agency.

So, what do you have agency over? I would argue primarily one’s own actions, particularly at the local, community level[10].

Relocalising as much as possible now is paramount but especially in terms of potable water procurement, food production, and regional shelter needs. To do this an awful lot of learning and work needs to be accomplished, quickly. There is no time to waste when exponential factors are at play and a Seneca cliff of energy contraction just ahead[11].

Starting your journey to self-sufficiency yesterday would have been prudent but starting today is better than tomorrow. Do what you can, even if it seems minimal. Plants a few pots of beans or tomatoes. Read a book on composting or seed saving. Find some like-minded neighbours and begin a community garden.

I’ve been busy prepping our raised beds for the seedlings we started indoors a few weeks ago. One of our greenhouses is almost cleaned up and ready to host a few dozen grow bags for our potatoes (discovered they do better in a greenhouse than the mostly shaded backyard areas I’ve tried in previous years). Some seeds of cool-weather plants are already in — lettuce, kale, sugar peas. Half of our compliment of twenty, 200 litre rain barrels are hooked up[12]. The two-compartment, concrete-block compost bin I built last summer has been extended higher and better pest screening added[13]. Almost all the fruit trees have been pruned. Mature compost has begun to be added to the various rows of raspberry and blackberry canes. Been sidelined today because of a mid-April snowstorm but another few dozen chores await, especially the replacement of rotting garden ties, that were used a decade ago to create foundations for our three greenhouses and form terraces on our side hill, with concrete blocks.

I close by repeating what I argued in my last post: “don’t depend upon your government/ruling class for salvation from the coming collapse of current complexities. Such ‘faith’ is significantly misplaced and will be deeply disappointing if not disastrous for those that maintain it. It is personal, familial, and community resilience and preparedness that will ease the decline; pursue this rather than believing you have significant agency via the ballot box and who might hold the reins of sociopolitical power.”

Please consider visiting my website and supporting my continuation of it via a purchase of my ‘fictional’ novel trilogy.

[1] There are some that argue this is exactly what we should do to ensure the survival of other species and not worry too much about humans. That is not me; at least not yet.

[2] Do not mistake this perspective of mine as one of supporting the expansion of fossil fuel extraction or our myriad of systemic complexities (especially technological) that have ‘evolved’ as a result of the growth brought about by this extraction. It is what it is and we need to consider it in its historical context and the dependencies it has led to. Given I believe that our fundamental predicament is ecological overshoot brought about by our increasing use of technologies, especially those that allowed us to extract ever-increasing amounts of fossil energy, I am all for curtailing such use; but it needs to be done thoughtfully and with targeted precision as our energy use contracts significantly.

[3] See this: https://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/14/15/4508/htm?fbclid=IwAR2ISt5shfV4wpFEc8jxbQnrrxyllyvZP-xDnoHhWrjGTQRIqUNfk3hOK1g

[4] An ecological/population bottleneck is where a significant majority of a species dies off due to a significant shift in environmental conditions. See William Catton Jr.’s Bottleneck: Humanity Impending Impasse.

[5] My current region has been on the forefront of both these growth frontiers within Ontario, Canada and as a result I have witnessed seemingly unending expansion of suburban residential housing at the expense of very limited arable land. The local politicians parrot the narrative that such growth is only beneficial and any seemingly negative consequences (most of which are dismissed/ignored) can be fully and completely mitigated. Apparently the supply chains that supply most of our food needs are guaranteed…forever and always, Amen.

[6] This may not be so for very small, local governments (and I mean very small, where ‘leaders’ socialise regularly with their constituents as neighbour, friend, or acquaintance) but it is increasingly so as governments get larger and the ‘leadership’ is removed from ‘normal’ societal participation and interactions, tending to fraternise within very closed peer groups that have little in common with the ‘average’ citizen.

[7] See Nassim Taleb’s The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.

[8] And we’re not talking small numbers here. We are looking at hundreds of trillions of U.S. dollars in global debt. See: https://blogs.imf.org/2021/12/15/global-debt-reaches-a-record-226-trillion/. This doesn’t even account for unfunded liabilities (e.g., pension plans) that would put the ‘true’ level multiple times higher.

[9] Refer to Erik Micheal’s Problems, Predicaments, and Technology site for more on this.

[10] To be honest, I am finding this difficult as well due to the widespread belief that growth only has beneficial aspects and a local town council that pushes this narrative at every opportunity.

[11] See: https://peakoil.com/generalideas/the-seneca-cliff-how-the-concept-evolved.

[12] We live on a hill with a basement walkout so I’ve utilised the grade to connect 15 of our rain barrels with each higher one feeding into the next lower one, and because of our very cold winters I unhook them all and flip them over every fall to prevent damage to the hoses and taps

[13] Damned chipmunks chewed through the metal insect screening I had wrapped around the outside and began pulling un-composted matter into the yard — concrete blocks are on their sides so the openings allow air into the pile to help with the decomposition of organic matter.

Israel, Gaza, and the Struggle for Oil

Israel, Gaza, and the Struggle for Oil

Aerial View of Haifa oil refineries. Photo: Meronim, CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed.

It was the sign that got to me. I was standing with protesters outside the Burlington (VT) City Hall at a rally organized by Jewish Voice for Peace. To my left I spotted a man, grim-faced and silent, holding aloft a piece of cardboard with these words scratched in black:

“Jews against Genocide.”

“So it has finally come to this,” I said to myself.

Why, I wondered, would Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Biden administration risk their standing in the world and ignore calls for a ceasefire? Did they have an unspoken agenda?

As  a chronicler of the endless post-9/11 wars in the Middle East, I concluded that the end game was likely connected to oil and natural gas, discovered off the coast of Gaza, Israel and Lebanon in 2000 and 2010 and estimated to be worth $500 billion. The discovery promised to fuel massive development schemes involving the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.

Also at stake was the transformation of the eastern Mediterranean into a heavily militarized energy corridor that could supply Europe with its energy needs as the war in Ukraine dragged on.

Here was the tinderbox waiting to explode that I had predicted in 2022. Now it was exploding before our very eyes. And at what cost in human lives?

Eastern Mediterranean, Oil and Gas Reserves

Map of the Eastern Mediterranean region showing the area included in the USGS Levant Basin Province assessment. Photo credit: USGS.

Reflections on the Israeli War on Gaza

The year 1975 was my last in beautiful, cosmopolitan Beirut, Lebanon, before it descended into 15 years of brutal civil war, killing 100,000 people.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Ten Things that Change without Fossil Fuels

Ten Things that Change without Fossil Fuels

It is now popular to talk about leaving fossil fuels to prevent climate change. Pretty much the same result occurs if we run short of fossil fuels: We lose fossil fuels, but it is because we cannot extract them. Practically no one tells us about the extent to which the current system depends upon fossil fuels, however.

The economy is extraordinarily dependent on fossil fuels. If there are not enough fossil fuels to go around, there is likely to be fighting over what is available. Some countries are likely to get far more than their fair share, while the rest of the world’s population will be left with very little or no fossil fuels.

If losing fossil fuels completely, or nearly completely, is a risk for some of the world’s population, it might be useful to think through some of the things that go wrong. The following are some of my ideas about things that change, mostly for the worse, in a fossil fuel-deprived economy.

[1] Banks, as we know them, will likely fail.

Before banks fail in areas with virtually no fossil fuels, my guess is that we will generally see hyperinflation. Governments will greatly increase the money supply in a vain attempt to get people to believe that more goods and services are being produced. This approach will be used because people equate having more money with the ability to buy more goods and services. Unfortunately, without fossil fuels it will be very difficult to produce very many goods.

More money will simply provide more inflation because it takes physical resources, including the proper types of energy, to operate machinery of all kinds to make goods. Creating services also requires fossil fuel energy, but generally, to a lesser extent than creating goods…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

It’s Not About Saving the Planet, It’s the Big Daddy We Need To Look For

It’s Not About Saving the Planet, It’s the Big Daddy We Need To Look For

Saving the Planet
Don’t tell Greta, but the hits keep coming for wind projects…

For perspective, $4 billion equals about 28 billion DKK. Orsted’s equity is 76 billion DKK, so that $4 billion hit is equivalent to some 37% of its market cap. How the hell did they get it that wrong? Perhaps we can just put it down to delusional expectations that pervaded in the wind industry and still pervade today.

Remember: your energy bills have skyrocketed in order to subsidise bird-killing wind turbines that don’t work. You may think it’s just silly and those pushing this agenda are simply delusional, but this is actually part of the Net Zero agenda to deliberately deindustrialise (and thereby impoverish) the West, while China and other countries unashamedly continue to capitalise on the huge economic prosperity afforded by the use of fossil fuels.

None of this has anything to do with saving the planet, and everything to do with demolishing our standard of living, demolishing our economic prosperity and transforming the former middle class into a neo-feudal peasant class.

  • From Wall Street Silver: “Net Zero was never viable. It is impossible to completely remove CO2 from our energy needs and overall economy. Politicians are just now beginning to realize that. Just about every modern technology requires oil, natural gas and/or coal in order to function. Many of the metals required need to be mined and new deposits are often remote with no access to the electric grid.”
  • Then there’s this from The Travelling Scientist: “The Paris accord interestingly promotes “non-fossil biocarbon-based” CO2 sources as being okay and counts towards net zero… so cutting trees and burning wood is no problem to the regulators, and becoming ever more popular to meet regulations companies are even patting themselves on their backs in their quarterly reports for doing so.”

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XIX–Fossil Fuels: Contributing to Complexity and Ecological Overshoot

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XIX

June 7, 2021

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Fossil Fuels: Contributing to Complexity and Ecological Overshoot

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.

Perhaps one of the most important consequences of this finite energy reserve has been our creation of exceedingly complex, fragile, and energy-intensive long-distance supply chains, especially for food, that have allowed us to expand and occupy quite marginal lands and completely ignore consideration of a land’s carrying capacity and ability to ‘sustain’ a local population; but also created a complete dependency by many on these systems. I use my home province of Ontario as an example. We have a population of about 15 million (and growing) but less than 9 million acres of arable farmland (and lessening), suggesting (based upon an estimate of the need of 1 acre of food production per person to supply adequate caloric intake) we are well past our natural environmental carrying capacity. It’s even worse than these numbers suggest since about 70+% of our ‘food’ production is dedicated to corn and soybean for animal feed and ethanol production. As a result we import about 80+% of our food. And many, many regions of the world are in a similar (or worse) predicament.

One of the ‘memes’ I have often used over the past few years has been ‘Infinite growth on a finite planet, what could possibly go wrong?’ We live on a finite planet with biophysical limits. These limits impact what we can and cannot do. Human ingenuity (i.e., science and technology) has allowed us to push on the boundaries of some of these limits to a certain extent but physics and biology can only be ‘delayed’, not vanquished. The energy-averaging systems we have in place (i.e., long-distance trade) to support occupation of marginal lands and expand beyond a region’s carrying capacity require huge amounts of energy to sustain. This has been possible via fossil fuels. In fact, fossil fuels have allowed us to push the apparent carrying capacity of the planet well beyond the biophysical limits imposed by a finite planet.

So what happens when this finite energy source begins to decline in not only actual physical quantities but in the amount of surplus energy it can supply us with due to diminishing returns?

The two extreme and relatively polar-opposite responses are simple. We could curtail our dependency on this resource and greatly reduce our complexities (something that was probably needed to begin decades ago). Or, we could create stories about how our ingenuity will provide us with a scientific/technological solution to avoid the tough path of degrowth — primarily through the magical thinking necessary to believe that there is a ‘green/clean’ energy source that we can tap into to sustain our energy-intensive living standards and global complexities.

I am increasingly convinced we need to take the first path but it seems quite apparent we are taking the second, a path that not only avoids the ‘pain’ that would be perceived by many as we reduce our complexities but one that weaves comforting myths to reduce our cognitive dissonance. The unfortunate thing is the easier path also puts us further into overshoot leading to an eventual steeper and calamitous decline that we cannot mitigate or manage at all. It is well past time to have the tough discussion (especially about how to do it equitably), if we are to have any hope of avoiding a future that will be much, much more challenging if we don’t.

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XX–Climate Emergency Action Plan: Electrification and Magical Thinking

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XX
June 9, 2021
Pompeii, Italy (1993) Photo by author

Climate Emergency Action Plan: Electrification and Magical Thinking

Today’s contemplation is once again generated by way of an article from the online media site The Tyee. It’s topic is the city of Vancouver’s (British Columbia, Canada) attempts to require ‘electrification’ of all new buildings as part of their Climate Emergency Action Plan and the pushback by the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating.

My first comment below was to bring to the surface the Overton Window that most media articles tend to display when discussing climate change actions and associated issues, particularly that it is only via ‘electrification’ of our society that we can adequately sustain our complexities and wean ourselves from the energy provided by fossil fuels; and thus ‘save our planet’.

The comment that follows is in response to another who responded to my comment with the tendency of some to buy into false (magical?) ‘solutions’. We tend to do this for any number of reasons, most (all?) of which are bio-psychological in nature.

The Overton Window established around policies/actions to address our ecological/environmental dilemmas is on full display here.

Want to reduce our impact on the planet? Stop adding to the problem that is the fundamental one: growth. None of the growth we continue to pursue (i.e., economic, population, etc.) is ‘Net Zero’ even if its needs are all ‘electrified’. ‘Electrification’ still requires ecologically-destructive sources to supply the energy; the notion that it is in any way ‘Net Zero’ is a comforting narrative that helps reduce the cognitive dissonance created when conflicting beliefs exist (e.g., growth can continue with little impact on the planet if we just ‘electrify’ it verses we live on a finite planet with hard biophysical limits that we have overshot in many cases).

The end of the fossil fuel age appears to be approaching and we need to acknowledge that the coming decline in the cheap and powerful energy it has provided will send our world (and most? all?) of our assumptions about modern, complex societies sideways in mostly unexpected ways. And this energy cliff we are beginning to experience is not because of our choosing to abandon fossil fuels (that is just the mainstream/dominant narrative being weaved); it’s because they are a finite resource that has encountered diminishing returns for some decades now and can no longer be economically accessed — to say little about the negative ecological impacts their use (and more recently, retrieval) have.

We can continue to weave comforting narratives such as ‘it’s just a matter of transitioning to a new, clean/green energy source and all will be well’, or we can confront the coming energy cliff and its significant knock-on effects (e.g., resource shortages, long-distance supply chain breakdowns, economic disruptions via bankruptcies/infinite currency devaluation-via fiat money ‘printing’, etc.) and attempt to build local/community resilience and self-sufficiency with our remaining (and finite) energy and material resources.

Which path is chosen (or some iteration of it) will impact how well a region/community fares as our energy-intensive living standards hit the wall that appears to be fast approaching.

I truly do believe many people are susceptible to/persuaded by misleading stories/narratives for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the most prominent of those being the deference to authorities/experts that we tend to display (think Stanley Milgram’s electric shock experiments). We tend to have trust/faith in particular people/professions and the marketers/propagandists (aka snake oil salesmen) are quite aware of this. So, a handful of academics/politicians/‘experts’ come out and declare ‘electrification’ of everything will lead us to the promised land…and here we are, only discussing the more comforting (and misleading/false) ‘solution’ and completely ignoring a more painful one that may be much more realistic in nature.

We are also genetically predisposed to avoid pain and seek pleasure, so a story of hope that can delay or bypass possible unpleasant consequences is much more easily believed and clung to than one that portends discomfort and difficulty. And one of the primary ways we reduce the psychological pain created by conflicting belief systems (that I’ve repeatedly emphasised) is to dismiss/deny/ignore the more painful one, such as having to forfeit comfortable living standards/expectations.

Another confounding factor in all this is the grieving process that people oftentimes go through when realising a significant loss (i.e., the lifestyle you ordered/expected is out of stock). Kubler-Ross’s original stages of grief is a great checklist for how many of us confront such loss. Denial (where the loss is imagined to not exist — many people are in this stage); anger (a lot of blame put on ‘others’ here); bargaining (when we begin creating ‘if only’ narratives — I would argue those in this stage become especially susceptible to the snake oil salesmen); depression; and acceptance. It is likely that until most of us are in the final acceptance stage will we be able to reach consensus on how best to confront the existential dilemmas we have created for ourselves and this planet.

What alternatives are there REALLY for fossil fuel use? – Dialogue with Mark Taylor

What alternatives are there REALLY for fossil fuel use? – Dialogue with Mark Taylor

Hint: it’s not solar

John: “What alternative to carbon-based fuels do you suggest, if not solar? Since the WPP is engaging in the process of policy development, we need one for transitioning away from carbon-based fuels. Any ideas?”

Mark:”First, to set the stage…”




Just contemplate the energy needed to power these scenes on a single night … and these are just three of the ‘smaller’ cities. How many solar panels would it take?

Here’s Mumbai…

Hey, maybe we better go nuclear … and really accelerate the insanity.

Nobody was a bigger fan of solar and wind energy than me, when I first learned about them. It made so much sense — hell, the planet is bathed in solar energy every day and wind blows and tides come and go. What’s not to like?

Well the gap between promise and reality, panels and watts, rooftop collectors and industrial waste, the disaster of precious mineral extraction, battery and panel recycling limitations and the human rights abuses the technology depends upon turns out to be huge.

The silence by the starry-eyed Green Deal left on the devastating human rights issue of “clean” energy is a sickening example of western liberal privilege. You can find lots of information on the issue, here’s a recent piece from Democracy Now!“Cobalt Red”: Smartphones & Electric Cars Rely on Toxic Mineral Mined in Congo by Children … 

The fact is, our urbanized high density industrial civilization rose and rides on easy availability of plentiful cheap, high density, high polluting energy. Without it we are stuck in the mud. The availability of the traditional energy sources are dwindling and all the pollution from 250 years of cheap high density dirty energy is choking us off.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Climate Change Has Come Full Circle

Photo by Mike Newbry on Unsplash

Our modern technological civilization was born out of fossil fuels. Coal. Oil. Natural gas. To this very day most of our industry, transportation and agriculture is still powered by these incredibly dense, portable, storable sources of energy. There is a fly in the ointment though: the burning of these ancient accumulations of carbon comes with releasing a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere. So far so good, however, I still regularly stumble upon commentators (and commenters) who question whether all this burning of fossil fuels is the cause of climate change (if it is changing at all). According to some this is a recent “woke” theory emerging from backroom discussions of the World Economic Forum, in order to make us all obedient and to deprive hard working people of the great gift of fossil energy. Well, let’s have a look at the history of the topic, to see if it’s based on actual measurement data and science in its classical sense or its indeed just a recent scare. Who knows, we might even gain some insight into some of the conspiracy theories while we’re at it.

Upuntil the late 1980’s the state of our climate didn’t seemed to be too much of a concern. One could even believe that we were headed towards another ice age without being labelled a climate change denier. Fossil fuels were deemed to be a universal good and very few thought that their use could put an end to human history. This state of blissful ignorance didn’t mean that there were no ominous warnings given beforehand. After all who could recall all the scientific studies made a hundred years earlier…?

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Renewables: Plug & Pray?

Photo by American Public Power Association on Unsplash

We are made to believe by PR articles and mainstream media pundits that “renewables” are just plug and play. Like computer screens. That all we need to do is to shut down old fossil fuel power plants and replace them with wind and solar. We are constantly bombarded with simplistic statements like “renewables are now cheaper than fossil fuel power plants”, as if such a simple one to one comparison could be made. All this hand waving, however, completely disregards the fact that the real life utilization of solar panels and wind mills are much lower than their nameplate suggests, and that they are a whole lot less useful in maintaining a stable grid than their polluting predecessors. It’s clearly not a plug&play game… Much rather, as it is played today, it’s all plug&pray.

There is a saying in contemporary German company culture: ‘Zahlen-Fakten-Daten’ — literally meaning: numbers, facts and data. It’s usually uttered during management reviews when someone makes a bold statement or starts to wax lyrical about an idea. It is meant to channel energies back to the task at hand and to request the necessary data to make a sound decision. So let’s see if statements pertaining the relative cheapness and usefulness of “renewables” really stand this test.

The latest report from the Energy Institute titled Statistical Review of World Energy (previously compiled by BP) provides us with just that: a ton of numbers and some rather inconvenient facts. Let’s start with availability. In case of regular fossil fuel power plants this metric is calculated by dividing the amount of time during which a plant is able to produce electricity over a certain period, by the total amount of time in that period. Let’s say your plant provides electricity 24/7, day-in day-out for 90 days but then it is down for maintenance for 10 days…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

The End Of Fossil Fuels Will Be The End Of Modern Capitalism

That which is unsustainable can not be sustained

Ed Yourdon from New York City via Wikimedia Commons

None of us are ready for the chaos of the we are stoking, caused by the rapacious growth of what Kurt Vonnegut Jr. referred to as “thermodynamic whoopee”. You might know it as Global Industrial Civilization-GIC. This is the beginning of how the world will sort itself out for the next 20 years.

An energy conversion from fossil fuels will not be possible to an equal extent in all world regions before peak oil occurs. It is likely that a large number of countries will not be able to make the necessary investments in good time and to the required extent.

The communities that live around those festering wounds and the toxic pools know this. And their anger and disquiet is growing as is their numbers. From sanitation employees in Paris to farmers in Punjab.

Even under the threat of our mighty military the other economies and nations of the world will make alliances, some out of necessity and some out of short-term gain, but the harder we push the more defined the battle lines will be. Our ruling class wants us to believe we can win this energy transition war. By any humanitarian definition of “winning” they are lying. They think THEY can win this war. They are wrong.

The contemporary financial system is at severe and worsening risk because of the gargantuan scale of the ‘excess claims overhang’ that has been created on the false assumption that the creation of money and credit in their various forms (known to conventional economics as “demand”) can somehow expand the real economy of goods and services. Demand can raise prices but demand can not create more oil in the ground.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

A Deep Dive Into the Future

Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

Thinking more than a couple of days ahead is not one of humankind’s greatest strengths, especially not beyond the scale and scope of our immediate surroundings. In the rare occasion when thinking of this type does happen, however, it usually takes two directions: the future will either be just like the past, perhaps even better, or an immediate and inevitable catastrophe will remove us all from existence, one day to another of course. Funny, but both visions have equal merit, and are equally true. There is a great caveat though: timescale.

Common wisdom suggests that tomorrow will most probably not be tremendously different from today, unless a sudden disaster hits. Based on this pattern of thinking, reinforced again and again by past experience, and by the myth that we have „defused” so many catastrophes in the past, many of us think that things will go on as usual forever, and human progress will march on inevitably. Indeed, it seems, at least on the short run, the optimists have the upper hand. On the long run, though, we see a thousand potential disasters still waiting to happen from climate change to novel viruses, or from AI to nuclear war… and the list goes on. Is it possible that our world is headed towards a sudden apocalypse after all?

Perhaps one reason why we think only in these two terms is that we often find it hard to reunite our personal perspective with the grand scheme of things, and to think on a much broader scale than our selves…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Our energy hunger is tethered to our economic past

Our energy hunger is tethered to our economic past

Civilization may need to “forget the flame” to reduce CO2 emissions.

Just as a living organism continually needs food to maintain itself, an economy consumes energy to do work and keep things going. That consumption comes with the cost of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, though. So, how can we use energy to keep the economy alive without burning out the planet in the process?

In a paper in PLOS ONE, University of Utah professor of atmospheric sciences Tim Garrett, with mathematician Matheus Grasselli of McMaster University and economist Stephen Keen of University College London, report that current world energy consumption is tied to unchangeable past economic production. And the way out of an ever-increasing rate of carbon emissions may not necessarily be ever-increasing energy efficiency—in fact it may be the opposite.

“How do we achieve a steady-state economy where economic production exists, but does not continually increase our size and add to our energy demands?” Garrett says. “Can we survive only by repairing decay, simultaneously switching existing fossil infrastructure to a non-fossil appetite? Can we forget the flame?”


Garrett is an atmospheric scientist. But he recognizes that atmospheric phenomena, including rising carbon dioxide levels and climate change, are tied to human economic activity. “Since we model the earth system as a physical system,” he says, “I wondered whether we could model economic systems in a similar way.”

He’s not alone in thinking of economic systems in terms of physical laws. There’s a field of study, in fact, called thermoeconomics. Just as thermodynamics describe how heat and entropy (disorder) flow through physical systems, thermoeconomics explores how matter, energy, entropy and information flow through human systems.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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